Sustainable Consumption

I grew in the hilly, leafy suburbs of South East London where trees scattered through the high rises and Victorian homes. Up high the London skyline lingered with St Paul’s and the Post Office Tower dominating the horizon. It was a time when petrol was leaded and rosewood and mahogany furniture filled my parents home. The world was small, London was less developed and I didn’t think about my future, let alone the children I would one day give birth to.

That was in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. My home now is very different to my parents and most likely very different to most of the middle classes, especially those who drive their Discovery Land Rovers. I am conscientious of my material, land, carbon and water footprint, unlike my parents but probably like my grandparents.

As a consumer my greatest dilemma in the philosophy of sustainable consumption is that it feels unclear whose role it is to ensure that the limited resources on our planet are used with the care and understanding that the air we breath, the water we drink and materials we extract from the earth are finite.

Capturing carbon is virtually non-existent in the square mile of the City, with a few trees fighting for survival between the concrete and paving slabs. The main roundabout at Elephant and Castle in South East London has a brick wall dedicated to carbon capture but it is the only wall I’ve noticed. London’s ability to clean the air we breath is stuck in the Victorian era where horse drawn carriages once transported people.

There are few water fountains too, my thirsty self always ends up with a new plastic bottle of water to quench my thirst, part of our throw-away culture where it will end up in a land fill or depending on the London borough your in, will be recycled. I’m always mindful of the fact that the bottle has been created from the resources of Earth. I struggle with buying a bottle of water.

This blog is a record of my life, living in a culture that struggles to live sustainably. It’s a micro analysis of how I try my hardest to preserve the limited resources of planet Earth. I have rejected greed and made lots of sacrifices in my life to be a responsible consumer in the hope that corporate greed will one day realise that although humanity is, at the moment infinite, the resources of this planet are not. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

Will Geo-engineering Save Planet Earth

This film is my attempt at mitigating climate change. On my six mile hike across the North Downs I came across this forest and I filmed my journey through it. I began thinking how the trees capture the carbon from earth’s atmosphere, with the M25 in the not far off distance. My life is busy and I dashed through this wooded area. Next time I will move slowly. This was the first time I’ve filmed in a wood and it won’t be the last.

Trees are the greatest technological resolution to reducing carbon emissons. I’d like to say, surround your home with them, so they may cleanse the air that you breathe. Don’t leave it up to someone else to rescue you from Earth’s changing climate, be proactive and lets keep the fate of humanity moving.

 

 

Ecotherapy

p20140429-180557When I joined the University of East Anglia, on a master of science in international development and water security, I had left behind me, three years of studying to become a psychotherapist. My psychological interest in the earth, led me there. I wanted to understand humans geopolitical and economic relationship with our planet. After a year of studying, my mind felt more confused and left university not really knowing how I could apply all the knowledge I had gained.

The one certainty I left with was the integral relationship between our psyche and capitalism and the environment and our economy. Ecotherapy is a tool that has the potential to develop a new relationship which can bring together our psyche and our environment and reject aspects of capitalism and the economy. I am not an anti-capitalist, I do however take a political ecology approach to the environment and believe there are many unnecessary inequalities that exist globally. These inequalities need to be acknowledged and understood if we are to resolve the issue of climate change. A political ecologist will question everything and believe nothing. For example, I recently highlighted on Twitter the relationship between the luxury leather business and deforestation in the Amazon. Greenpeace ensured me they were happy to speak about their climate and agriculture campaigns and confirmed they receive no corporate donations. Another contentious issue is the chocolate industry and the inequality between the amount of money made by the farmers and the amount made by those who import the chocolate into the West. I will explore this further in another post. I am sickened by the divide between the rich and the poor. I am neither rich nor poor, just a humble individual trying to preserve this planet for my grand-children and their children.

I graduated in 2013, since then I have been attempting to reconnect with my earth. I have been a conscientious consumer, purchasing second hand where I can. I’ve thought about the chemicals I use to clean with and I have attempted to not pollute my waste water. I have an allotment which is rich in alluvial soil, here I grow my own vegetables and fruit. I make my own aromatherapy products too which has given me a great sense of connection to my ancient past.

For me, ecotherapy is about discovering aspects of our self through our connection with our natural environment. Trees and their roots, fungi, grass, mountain ranges, plants, flowers, bees, they can all help us to find our self in a chaotic world that sometimes, we have no control over. Being in an ancient forest gives me a space to feel at home in when I am feeling unloved in the world. Stay with me on this journey. I’m not here to make money, just share my experiences of the natural world, my inner self and how I understand the chaotic world we live in.

 

 

 

Grove Street, SE8

This is where my photography journey began. My dad belonged to the team of professionals who regenerated Deptford in the early 1990’s. It’s his photo really because he was the one who encouraged me to climb to the top of one of Deptford’s many high rises. With my hard hat in tow and the wind blowing vigourously in my face we both climbed in the builders lift together.

My photography tutor at Goldsmiths College introduced me to the term ‘thatcher’s needle’. It was an appropriate term, seen as my dad was a socialist and I can proudly say we had a picture of Lenin in the hallway of our family home in Forest Hill.

Little did I know this would be the last home he lived in (depicted in the far right cluster of homes, ironically). He died in Kenya on Sunday 17th November 2013 and this photo is in his memory. This is when he was the dad I loved and cherished and before the life he chose, that broke him.

Nature Deficit Disorder

p20130518-155346I have fond memories of playing in the ancient forest that sat on the opposite side of the main road, from my house in Forest Hill, South East London. It was the same forest my dad played in as a child with his friends and brother. It was veiled in the mysticism of queens and war planes and if you listened carefully you could hear the trees breathing. I can remember the sun glistening through the gaps, revealing the blue sky beyond. My self-sufficiency would have me and my friends take a jam sandwich and watch the gardeners attend their allotments. And with my parents, a game of hide and seek was enjoyed as a family which was a happier time for my Dad.

I loved nature as a child even though the city of London ran through my mum’s veins. She loved London more than anything and given the choice of nature or a trip to the west end it would always be the latter.

Born in the early 1970’s I was a very much a screen child. Hopping between my television, hand-held computer games and my Commodore 64. I was obsessed with gaming, waiting for my tapes to load, Hungry Horace, Daly Thompsons Decathlon and Damsel in Distress were some of my favourites. Gaming was isolating then, it was stand alone and I spent most of the time in solitude, not communicating with anyone. Gaming now is very different, I often hear my son cackling inappropriately into his Xbox 360 mic.

We all need balance in our life, a life that has equal parts. Climbing trees, running through forests and splashing across streams nurtures the psyche. Trees feed tranquillity into our very being, they ground our existence on this earth. They have the ability to transport us to other worlds, with queens and war hero’s. A child’s imagination can run as free as their body through a forest that sparkles with sunlight.

Most of our possessions in the home come from the earth, in some format or another. Nature is the perfect way to help children understand the process of consumption and the impact that process may or may not have on the environment. The wooden chair I sit upon once stood rooted to the ground with branches and leaves.

Spending time watching a bumble bee collect pollen and explaining why we need bumble bees allows children to understand the connectedness of every living being. Finding a dead animal and talking about the ecosystem that’s right before your eyes encourages how the reliance of every living thing impacts upon each other. If one is out of balance, nature allows us to explore the impact on the rest of the chain.

Climate change sees local streams flooding and when we visit the same wild place regularly we can see the impact of climate change on an environment that is changing. We can connect with others and understand how their lives have been affected by devastating floods and typhoons, for example, those people in the Philippines. It encourages children to empathise with the rest of the earth and it encourages a debate that children need to have with themselves about the causes of a changing climate across the globe. It’s not about frightening children’s existence, it’s about creating a dialogue that needs to happen for the sake of humanity.

With earth, comes fire and spring is the best time to camp up around the fire pit. Some ancient cultures use the smoke from fire to communicate with ancestors, those who once roamed the earth. Our ancestors are important to our sense of who we are and a fire is a great opportunity to discuss with children those who came before us. My own children love roasting marshmallows, independently. My daughter has been proficient in fire pit safety since aged five, negotiating danger is important to children. It’s important because if they’re ever in danger they need to be able to know how to get out. If they’re never in danger they’ll never know how to get out of it.

Being outside and listening to silence embraces the presence of being human, the silence has the ability to touch the psyche in a way that the hustle and bustle of the city cannot. I live on the edge of the M25 and I find it difficult to listen to nature go about it’s daily business. As the lorries roar past, I feel their power in my chest. I’ve lived in silence, of an evening we would sit outside, around the fire and listen to owls hooting and bats swooping. I miss the silence tremendously.

Balance in life is key and it can exist but it can only exist if we allow it to. Sacrifices in life are key and we all make them, only some are different to others. What sacrifices will you make today? And who will benefit from them?

Pepys Estate, Deptford, SE8

My two beautiful children. I took this the last time I saw my dad alive. My children were so happy we had moved back to the south east from East Anglia. Their smiles are genuine happiness.

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