Hi!

Just on to let you all know that I am very much alive.

I had my auntie and cousin/best-friend come to visit us for a few days, was a little naughty spending too much, heading off into the big city and not forcing them to be stingy with the water and electricity.

Absolutely knackered and back to living on as little as possible now, feels good to know that I’m no longer consuming more than need be.

I’m happy to say that I saw sense and didn’t spend money on any new or secondhand gadgets. I wasn’t seeing the wood for the trees, it’s calls I need and not messaging.

Quite frankly, my friends will just have to accept the need to call or text (SMS) me. Why should I be stuck with something I don’t want nor need just because they prefer to use some messaging app or another? If this means they don’t communicate with me, well then perhaps they aren’t such good friends. :-P

What else, so the vegetarian diet is going well. I am eating a little bit of chicken once a week, but this is from my partner’s plate. That means no extra costs, dead animals or environmental impacts… or so I tell myself. This will only continue until I am sure that I have this meatless thing figured out and I will go on eating eggs and some cheese for the foreseeable future.

Next though is milk, I have tried alternatives before without much success but this time I am more determined. That said, this is not a cheaper option and is very much a matter of health before bank balance situation.

I am also cutting back more on my hours, but I’ll explain that and update you all more in the next post as I still need to catch up on my sleep.

G’night!

Tick, tock

I feel like bit of a yo-yo, determined that I don’t need or want a smartphone and any gadgets, gizmos or devices that consume more than is necessary.

Then I swing, like pendulum?, back to thinking maybe a smartphone and some devices that allow me to communicate for free isn’t such a bad idea. When I do the maths, if I had no mobile contract then I would make my money back in a little over a year!

Not bad, given the mobile I am looking at is designed to be repaired and live 5+ years. As for the portable-personal antennas, well I’d hope they could last just as long with proper care.

If I am going to spend my days wandering, foraging and losing myself in the forests and mountains, then there is a lot to be gained from an emergency communications system too. I can already negate the need to charge these, having sorted my renewable/free supply of power for a handful of things.

A ‘less-money’ lifestyle is very much a balancing act, sometimes spending in order to save. Ideally a little investment for a big return.

I wish these companies would make a repairable dumb phone which worked with your own antenna network, that would be ideal. So many of these new ideas for socially, environmentally and sustainable technologies all have one too many gimmicks, an app for your smartphone. Common, society needs to sort itself out. People need to divorce their mobiles and re-engage with reality.

At the moment I no longer have many electronics, less than I started with and the list is steadily growing short. The number of devices I use daily has dropped dramatically.

I use my camera when the mood to snap photos hits me, this was my partner’s camera so I feel that I should get brownie points for having a secondhand one. I only have my dumb phone now, having sold my tablet and smartphone, which I use a lot for work. And I have my computer (laptop) which I use for work, watching videos, reading the news and blogging. Then of course there’s the washing machine, fridge-freezer and occasionally the electric hob. Oh yeah and my eReader, I’d read about the environmental benefits of these once before. Given that any books I want will need to be shipped to me, often from the UK, I am very confident that once I’ve finished all 48 books, previously bought, then the carbon footprint has been balanced out. That said, I would in future prefer to buy secondhand books. Can anybody recommend a cheap-yet-green courier?

Having previously used a smart weighing scales, pedometer, fitness tracker, smartwatch, smartphone, tablet, laptop, printer, wireless mouse & keyboard, smart lights, TV, games consoles (one portable and two regular), VR headset, internet radio, action camera, coffee machine (2), kettle, oven, microwave*, hairdryer and a landline handset. Phew! What a list.

Don’t worry, these have or will all be sold, donated or recycled. Hence another swing to this indecisive pendulum, I do not want to increase my impact on the environment anymore, especially in terms of e-waste.

It’s not too late to pledge again on Kickstarter, but the clock is ticking. What to do!?!

 

*We haven’t bought one since moving house, I am yet to do some research and find out if it is a good/cheaper/greener option than the oven and hob. Although not as good as the wood stove, but sometimes starting a fire to heat milk is such a pain in the ass.

A few pics…

A few pics of the furniture we (mostly my husband) made from a selection of wood, pallets and old furniture parts that people were literally about the throw in the bin when we stopped them and asked for it… who doesn’t love free furniture?

Wait, reset.

I feel that I’ve already gotten off topic on a few of my posts here, sure I wanna be self-sufficient and sustainable for the good of the planet. I have always been an environmentalist to some degree, even during my less green and more wasteful moments.

The reason I haven’t dedicated this blog purely to green issues is that it depresses me. I see waste and destruction everywhere, always have done. That’s why I studied Environmental Science and that’s why my family told me I think too much.

Perhaps they are right, and rather than get depressed about it I need to not over think things and simply act on them. I will try.

Focusing on my health, happiness and living within my means, on a much reduced salary (partly by choice), is the best way that I can help the planet.

I have fallen back into some old habits in such a short time and need to remind myself of why I started this blog, money and my hatred for it. Perhaps it is naive or immature to only blame money for creating the environmental destruction we see today. But you have to admit money creates the perfect conditions for the social and environmental apathy that riddles our societies today. Well, not counting those who do more harm by trying to do good. Yes, you. You social media junkies.

I wanted to support alternative companies and convinced myself that a Fairphone and some GoTennas were acceptable purchases, one is sustainable and socially responsible and the other allows me to save money and make use of the first.

No, no, no. Damn! We are all so brainwashed to buy, spend, dispose and buy again. It is crazy. I do not need nor want a smartphone (no matter how like-minded the manufacturer and I are). Neither do I want or need to use social media. Where better to share my photos and ideas than right here.

It was my patient partner who made me realise that I’d fallen into the trap of commercialism when he made our new dinning table, from pieces recused from being dumped. One main piece was a beautiful antique but very weather-beaten set of legs, the others were a mix of pallets, wood and chipboard used to transport fittings for a new shop.

There’s that waste issue again, so much wood wasted after one use. Need to shake of the sadness and anger. The positive, an entirely free and repurposed dinning table for us. :-)

So as before, I have cancelled my funding for GoTenna on Kickstarter and my order for a Fairphone 2. It’s a little late to return the fancy cooker that generates power (a BioLite BaseCamp), but this is something that I need, use and can just about justify. Good luck to those who need fancy devices, there are some great companies out there producing products that are better for the environment and good for people wanting to be more self-sufficient/to go off-grid. But let’s face it, everything we make is bad for the planet no matter how green it is. I, however, am happy with my modest dumb Doro phone.

The egg & chicken

So, I have officially started my permanent vegetarian diet. Already I feel the benefits and am relieved that I no longer need to fill my body with artificial substances to try combat the pain in my foot.

Being spontaneous does have some drawbacks, I don’t have all that much food in the house and today is a local holiday. It’ll be tomorrow at the earliest, depending on my foot, before I can get out and replenish the pantry.

I can’t wait for our vegetables and fruits to get established and hope that at least part of our shopping bill can be cut. I realise that there are somethings that are difficult or not possible for me to grow and expect that weekly trips to the supermarket will remain part of our life.

However, how sweet it will be to only buy non-fresh items that cannot be produced at home. We’ll (hopefully) have red peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, peas, courgettes, figs, berries, onions, ginger, mushrooms, herbs and more that I forget.

One of the things we could easily source from home is eggs, and this was something I was excited to do. However with initial set-up of a coop and getting the hens costing somewhere between 500 and 800 euros, this isn’t exactly a cheap option.

Given the cost of half a dozen eggs is about 1 euro, that’s 800 weeks until we get our initial investment back. And not counting the cost of feed, bedding and necessary items for healthy hens. That surely is not very self-sufficient?

Sure, we could source supplies and build our own chicken coop and yet that doesn’t seem to be a worthwhile investment of time or energy either.

I know a friend, with a larger piece of land, who raises chickens and she sells the excess eggs. The local farmers’ market is full of organic eggs too. When I say farmers’ market it truly is full of local farmers as we’re surround by farms of all sizes here.

I know that by raising the chickens yourself, you can be sure that they are 100% organic and happy. Then what happens when your little chooks get too old. Kill’em? Cook’em?!
Not sure I could or would like to do that.

No matter how much I like the idea of keeping our own chickens, plus the free fertiliser the littler darlings produce in large quantities and knowing that our food scraps will not be going to waste, well I just can’t rationalise that hefty bill or the bloody end our little feathered friends will meet.

I haven’t forgotten the idea of selling our excess eggs, but I would not feel happy about that. I would likely give them to friends as gifts and thanks for their help.

Perhaps I should think again about bees, a cheaper start-up and much cheaper maintenance costs. The beeswax would come in handy and I guess I could grow to like honey.

Can anyone offer some advice?

Vedo, Vedon’t

I had previously planned out a post explaining my plans for trying veganism for a few weeks, with the idea of then reintroducing some animal products into my diet to become vegetarian longer term.

I didn’t want to rush into this, and hesitated for a long time in publishing that original post. I wasn’t going to do any prep, and wanted to share my discoveries, cock-ups and wins as they occurred. I’ve never tried this lifestyle before, so there were sure to be plenty of the above.

I felt more and more inspired to try the vegan-thing longer term, especially after seeing a documentary called ‘Cowspiracy‘. I was determined that this would be the last thing I watched on the last day my Netflix subscription was active. I had other documentaries that would possibly be a good watch too, but this one appealed most and had been in my to watch list for the longest.

Holy cow! Wow, what a mess. We really are fucking up the planet, aren’t we.

I was shocked by how bad it was. Eggs, no? Even they are not efficient, never mind self-sufficient or sustainable. That was that, I would go veggie ASAP and ease myself into a permanent vegan diet. I started working on it immediately, I even cancelled my plans to establish a chicken coop and try to produce my own eggs.

We never eat that much meat but I cooked up what little we had so that I could start my new meatless meals the next morning.

It could have been that slight indulgence of a meat-heavy meal (no chance was I wasting any more food) or it could have been when I stubbed my toe or when I polished off the beers… I can’t be sure. One or a combination of these actions has left me in bed and/or hobbling in agony with an attack of gout for a week.

Yeah, yeah. I know most people assume gout is the result of a luxurious diet and a lifestyle to match and yet that isn’t always the case. Sure I could lose some weight, but I had been doing so since starting this lifestyle. Less time on the sofa watching telly and more time exploring/foraging in the forest and tending to my garden in preparation for growing some fruit and veg. That in itself could have been another reason for the attack, although I hadn’t lost weight too quickly.

No, it turns out that I am genetically predisposed to having such a problem. :-( Bollocks!
And it turns out that vegan diets can be pretty bad for people with risk of gout attacks.

Vegetarian diets are potentially the best and most effective way to avoid recurring, agonising, potentially ruinous pain. A week without being able to find firewood, prep the veggies or stand up for long periods. Gout is certainly not for the self-sufficient.

So I searched out a low purine diet or gout diet. The first two items on the green list? Eggs and cheese. Double bollocks!

Sometime between finishing the documentary and feeling like my foot had exploded, I saw an article pop-up on the BBC. ‘What would happen if the world suddenly went vegetarian?

Basically the article goes into details of ecosystems that have developed and thrived as a result of animal farming, of cultures that depend on their cattle, on jobs that would be lost and other negative impacts of giving up meat on a global scale. It too mentioned the benefits, also mentioned in Cowspiracy, the need for less agricultural land and a return of more wild spaces. It did point out one simple truth. A field will not necessarily become a forest if it is merely abandoned by farmers. Sometimes plants and animals need humans to reintroduce them and help them get reestablished.

For 7 billion people to suddenly make the switch overnight, as I did, is not a very likely event. To demonize all animal husbandry is not the answer either.

Perhaps the better solution is a progressive move from a meat-eating world to a semi-vegetarian one and soon, sometime in the very near future.

Who knows, moving forward again and a switch to a semi-vegan world with a smaller proportion of omnivores and a majority of vegetarians could just work.

As for myself, I will be going vegetarian from this very moment. I will look again toward getting my own chickens for a personal, organic and healthy supply of eggs.

What about cheese? I’m pretty sure I’d lose my house if I tried getting a goat. I’ll be off to the farmers’ market to seek out some organic producers, once I can walk without screaming the walls down.