Monday, January 23, 2006

simple living

I read this blog on plain dress a few days ago and have kept going back to read the comments that have come flooding in. I've been wanting to respond but too much is going round my head to coherently add anything that isn't already there. What speaks to me is it being a faith based decision/way of life. There is very much a spiritual basis to my reasoning on such things, rather than a political one which is probably more where I started. The two aren't mutually exclusive of course - but different, overlapping, paths in a similar direction.

I got asked the other day to either run a session or contribute articles to the Meeting's newsletter on simple/plain/environmentally friendly living. A few weeks earlier I'd been asked to help with a weekend at the Settlement in 2007 (!) on food choices...

The whole thing of living simply with respect for the environment, for the quality of life of those producing the goods is something that has grown with me for some time now. I try to buy what I need rather than what I want (but don't need) - to the extent that stocking up a food cupboard with a week or twos supplies instead of a few days was actually hard work for me (but I don't 'need' 4 tins, I just need 1, and I don't like buying tinned products anyway!), but here need is a bit different - no I don't ordinarily need it but should the infamous 'big one' (earthquake) hit, there be even worse rain caused landslips on the (only) main road into Wellington than there have been in the last couple of years, or a tsunami reach us then I'll be very glad of a few extra tins and stuff in the freezer.

I cannot isolate one aspect of my purchasing power (limited as it is as I'm not really earning anything right now) from another - I apply similar criteria to my food as my clothes, to my stationery as the cleaning materials and loo roll supplies I get in. Since I've got here I've limited myself to just buying local artists cds (which considering Bic Runga, Crowded House/the Finn brothers, Stellar, Dave Dobbyn et al are all Kiwis it isn't exactly a hardship!) but that is more to curb my spending than overly ethical reasons (but I have managed to keep to just spending christmas/birthday money, not the money I have to live off for the forseable future!) My only other 'pure self indulgence' spending has been on the books that have somehow made it onto my bookshelves, and counter to all my 'promises to self' to Bookcross them are still there (but I will read them again and again, honest....).

It is odd for me to find myself being considered ahead of the game on such matters as I don't feel that I am - also this country has such a good 'green' image internationally it seems even more odd to be asked as an incoming Brit to raise awareness about these issues and explain what others can do too! But both requests came from Kiwis so I guess I'll see what I can do. My difficulty now is finding a way that I feel comfortable with. As someone who has been involved with Quaker outreach over the years and really struggles with those people who fight shy of it and consider it as 'evangelising' I feel remarkably reticent to be seen to be trying to 'convert'! I'm far happier leading by example (an example which has obviously been noticed or I wouldn't have been asked!) . I guess as long as I make it clear that the 'wear it as long as thou canst' philosophy can be applied to pretty much everything then I'll be ok, after all I didn't get to where I am overnight either.

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