Sunday, 26 October 2008

Getting back to basics

Rhonda Jean
Down to Earth

Have you ever thought about the cost of convenience? I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and wondering why we fell for it. When you think about it, most of us believed the hype that we could be super people, super mums and dads, wives and husbands and still have time left over for ourselves. And we could, when we bought convenience. I'm talking about the convenience of have pre-washed salads, precooked cakes, pre-marinated meat, pre-cooked chicken and any other type of food you can think of; unlike in days gone by, we buy most of the food we eat. We've fallen for shampoo and detergent when they're almost always made with some kind of petro-chemical. We’ve stopped making our own clothes and, instead, buy cheap dresses and jeans from Asia.

We now buy really expensive large homes and pack them with furniture that was made miles away and shipped in. When I was young, it was commonplace to move into a small flat or apartment, often with nothing more than a bed and a sofa, and work your way to what you wanted. Credit cards were unknown then. What did we do with the time that convenience bought us? We worked to pay for the convenience. Every time you pay for service – such as cooking, cleaning, dressmaking, or whatever else it might be, you pay, because it takes someone’s time to do that task – that price is added to the total cost of your goods. So what you’re doing is moving the work to someone else so you have the time to make the money to pay them to do it. I know it’s not as simple as that, and I know that life is never so black and white, but I’m trying to make a point. I am trying to show that every thing we buy has a price and that by paying that price we give away our independence.

And we forget.

We forget how to do those things that helped us live well – we forget recipes, skills, methods of production, short cuts and tradition. Essentially, we are forgetting our heritage.

I am receiving a lot of emails lately from people who are scared of the current international financial crisis. There is a lot to be scared about because there will be job and home losses, hardship and a lot of hard times ahead but there is also opportunity if you look for it. I see this crisis as a huge correction in the way we have come to live our lives. We all have this opportunity now to look at our lives and modify them in significant ways. That might involve being greener, living more simply or getting rid of as much debt as you can. Anything is possible now, take advantage of this time of change to make it work for you. There is so much free information and inspiration available in blogs for each and every one of us to cherry pick from and apply to our lives. My hope is that you will find some of that information at the co-op. All our writers here are living the life they write about, there are good examples of what is possible and what already has been done.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing about ways to modify the way you spend and shop, how to conserve your resources and how to change in ways that will make a real difference to your life. Stay tuned, and let me know if there is anything in particular you need to know about.