Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book - Living the Good Life

My latest purchase in my ever expanding 'green' library is 'Living the Good Life' by Linda Cockburn (photographed here with Henry the Green Camel. Henry lived with my Dad for many years until finally after many admiring glances on my part he was allowed to grace Bumble Bee Cottage with this camelly smirkiness. Thanks Dad).

Linda, her partner, Trev and their six year old son, Caleb, document their six month experiment on living sustainably. In doing this they live mainly off the food they grow on their own block of land, bartering for items they were unable to grow themselves.They have water tanks, solar panels, a friendly but noisy goat and trade their car for the pedal power of bicycles.

Linda says, 'We didn't want to turn our back on the world, just reduce our environmental impact as far as possible without making our lifestyle unlivable.'

By the end of this book I was in awe of what they had achieved, the fact they had stuck it out to the bitter end (with only a few minor slip ups along the way) and had managed to save a whooping 44% of their income.

Throughout the book Linda gives definitions, and explanations about various environmental and lifestyle practices. Linda's expansion on 'The last day in the life of a hapless soon-to-be-headless battery chicken' made me cry (unashamedly) as it was so truly horrible. I buy free range eggs and this horrific tale made me very, very glad I do, although I suppose this may well happen to free range chickens as well. It also made me long to keep our own chickens for eggs once again.

I do not know if I have the level of commitment they showed to their chosen lifestyle but I have certainly taken inspiration from the wonderful story.At the end of the six months Linda says while they will not be sticking to such a restricted diet and lifestyle in their 'normal' lives they have changed the way they live both in terms of money and the environment.

Reading this book made me want to leap out into the garden and start planting out our vegetable garden, unfortunately I will have to wait a little while until the 4*C Guernsey Winter days warm up :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Taste the Waste

When I start to think about the world and what is has become I am overwhelmed, sometimes. A fresh year has begun and with it a promise to myself to renew the principles and ideals I held many years ago, when my life was slower, less full of people, namely of my own creation :)

In attempting to re-educate myself about the modern green movement, sustainability, planet care and grow your own I came across this video. I knew this happened but to see it in 'real life' is still a shock.

During the past week I have been systematically going through my cupboards and using up all the food I have purchased over the past year; dried beans, lentils, spices, tinned products etc. in an attempt to use the food I have bought and not waste it. It has been a very educational exercise as our grocery bill has been more than halved. Instead of taking the easy route of finding a recipe I fancy, writing out a list, crossing out a few ingredients we have and then purchasing the rest, I have been finding recipes using what I have in the cupboard and then buying the few items I need. After all why did I buy this food in the first place if not to cook it and eat it?

I have been making Mr Bee frozen lunches of lentil soup, lentil curry, pea and ham soup and beef madras curry. All have been healthy recipes, cheaper than buying lunch and far tastier (so Mr Bee tells me). I used to make his lunches all the time and then gradually over the years I have stopped with the usual excuse of 'no time'.

As part of this new year I have decided to 'make' the time and just see what I can do with it :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book - Low Cost Living

The more I read about permaculture, living sustainably, living 'greener', lowering your carbon footprint and simple living the more I want to read. I bought John Harrison's book 'Low Cost Living' to give me some ideas on where to make a start so I can change the way our family lives for the better. This book was a good starting point for me as it reminded me of things I already knew, but hadn't thought about for a while, and it gave some common sense suggestions for some changes I can make in the future.

There are twenty-two chapters in this book: 1. Low-cost eating, 2. Beating the Supermarkets at their own game, 3. Cooking your Food, 4. Food Waste, 5. Storing Vegetables, 6. Storing and Preserving Food, 7. Making your Own Chutneys and Jams, 8. Baking Your Own Bread, 9. Making Your Own Butter Cheese and Yogurt (something I am very interested in), 10. Making Your Own Wine, Beer and Cider (something Mr Bee showed quite and interest in), 11. Food for Free, 12. Growing Your Own, 13. Keeping Chickens, 14. Bees in the Back Garden, 15. Pets, 16. Cleaning, 17. Energy, 18. Water, 19. Transport, 20. Recycling, 21. Skills and 22. Money.

It is not a huge book, 220 pages, but it does give a very good starting point which you could elaborate on yourself quite easily with a little research. Reading this book has made me look into my shopping habits and see where I can make a difference in both the types of food I have been buying and the cost of those foodstuffs.My shopping habits are reasonably good and I have always been an 'aware' shopper but over the past few years I have become lazy and a few highly processed foods have found their way into the shopping trolley.

We already recycle the majority of our waste, plastics, glass, cardboard, cartons, compostables but I think I need to consider each product I purchase and the amount of superfluous packaging it comes with. This book has given me much to think about and act upon.

It is time we started to 'Live Better, Spend Less.'

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book - Choosing Eden

A change and a rekindling of old interests began in July last year, whilst we were home in Brisbane. We were wandering aimlessly around Indooro (Indooroopilly Shopping Centre for those not from Brisbane) just enjoying the fact we were shopping 'inside' as opposed to the cold and windy High Street of St Peter Port, when I came upon a book sale. It was one of those sales in the middle of the shopping centre floor space where they have just thrown up trestle tables and covered them with merchandise. It was here amongst the teetering towers of discounted books I came across 'Choosing Eden' by Adrienne Langman (photographed here in my lovely clean, tidy and toy free conservatory). It was only $5.00 AUD.

This book is the story of Adrienne and her husband, Larry's decision to sell up and move from Sydney suburbia to a twelve acre property in Nana Glen, three hours north, in northern New South Wales. When I purchased this book I was unaware that their story was made into a television program 'The Real Seachange' (even though this is actually written on the back of the book, but who has time to read all the blurb when the Bumble Bee'rs are loose in a shopping centre).

Adrienne writes about why they made their decision and the story follows them over the course of their first year of their 'greening' adventure. The basis of their decision is Peak Oil. They want to be prepared, for both their own sake and that of their family, to be able to deal with the changes they believe Peak Oil will bring to modern society.

Peak Oil is not a new term to me. My Dad has been talking about it for years and years. It has been a running joke in our family 'Oh Dad's talking about Peak Oil....again!' Well I'm not laughing now Dad. XX

While I  do not agree with Adrienne's quite extreme view of a complete break down of society, I can certainly see the logic in both her choices, preparations and adoption of a permaculture 'lifestyle'.

I feel I need to investigate this concept further.