Changes over time

I am old enough to remember the snow of 1947 and how I still walked to school in it. I remember jumping into drifts and the snow coming over the top of my wellies. I remember the snow of 1978/9 as well when I had no heating as everything was frozen. Eventually a friend in the village took me and my two young children in and warmed us all up and cared for us until everything was repaired. I also remember what seemed like long hot summers when as a child I played out all day.

I remember when I was a young child that we had no washing machine or fridge. We did have a gas cooker but water was boiled in a kettle on the hob on the coal fire. We had a meat safe, a wooden case with mesh wire to let in air but not flies and a marble slab in the larder to keep things cool. We also only bought exactly what we needed for the week. No large bags of potatoes with either too many or not enough but loose potatoes which went straight into the shopping bag. It was the same with all the veggies and things like butter and cheese were cut in blocks to the size you wanted before being wrapped in greaseproof paper.

When I was older and had my own family we eventually owned a washing machine and a fridge and later a freezer but this was like 30 years later in the 1970s and 1980s. Sliced bread had also arrived by then and made life easier for many. I still prefer a loaf of bread I can cut myself! Plastic also came along and there were Tupperware parties where you could buy the latest plastic item that you might need. But I still knitted and made some of my own clothes. My early training with my mother saw to that. I still do for that matter.

But now you can buy anything you need, washing machine, dryer, cookers and fridge freezers which generally arrive with a coat of some kind of plastic.Phones and cars are there for all. I can’t remember when I finally had a landline phone but it was not until about 1975 or so. We used the phone box down the road. I have never had a car and never wanted one really.

So to today, cars queue up by the traffic lights and emit fumes which choke you. Everything is covered with plastic much of which is not recyclable. We see mountains of plastics in the sea and rivers. The air we breathe is contaminated and gives us lung disease. The rivers are polluted and our water supply is not as good as it used to be. Too many houses are being built on floodplains and green belt land with no thought for extra doctors, schools and hospitals. Is this what we really want?

The recent climate conference has just ended and many promises have been made. Many people understand that we need to change the way we live but there are many who although they agree are not prepared to change the way they live their lives. My son was trying to park his car where I live but could not get into a space because someone had left a Range rover in the centre blocking all the spaces, with its engine running and the doors open. If we all did one small thing it would help. But I suspect that is not going to happen until it is too late. Our local Co-op is now collecting what are called soft plastics for recycling but how many are going to do that? If one person per household did something like that and reduced their plastic waste, it would make the world a nicer place to live.

Come on people, change your ways so we can all have a better world.

It’s not just about plastic!

Whether you believe in climate change or not, scientific facts show that over the ages of the earth, the climate has gone cold then warmed up then gone cold again. A few years ago I attended a lecture about this and saw all the evidence. However this current rise in temperature is more steep than ever before so it is believed that we have something to do with that. But I want to look at other things. Take our rivers for example, it wasn’t until about 1960 that polluting our rivers was made an offence, but the rivers were still polluted for another decade. It is still an offence but out rivers are still polluted in many places. Accidents happen at factories which discharge water into the rivers and canals. When this happens fish die and all the other life in the water as well. River water is often used for our domestic supplies after some filtration but the drugs we take which pass into our urine don’t disappear so that some of these drugs, hormonal ones for example, affect the life in the rivers as well.

And look at our oceans, full of plastic, stuff that has been thrown overboard from cruise and cargo shipping. Natural disasters like tsunamis also pollute the oceans filling them with debris washed from the land.

So what about our air, the air we breathe? In some cities air pollution is so bad that people wear masks to help stop the polluted air from entering their lungs. One day last week I walked into town down a fairly busy road. It was a busy time of the day and the fumes from the petrol and diesel filled the air and I felt I was choking. Now where I live is only a small town so what is it like in larger towns and cities? School runs are bad for this. When I was young there was little choice in which school you went to. You went to the nearest one and walked or cycled. Central heating and factories all put out pollutants into the air. At least we now have cleaner air than we had when I was a child and the factories belched out dense smoke every day. Other air pollution is caused by radio waves especially those used for your mobile phones. Mobile phone masts are a huge source of air pollution and radiation.

So how can we change this? If we were not so greedy and wanting so many material items, such as clothes, new phones and other gadgets, there would not be the need for them to be made. Mobile phones are made using rare materials which will run out eventually. Why do we need to devastate forests to make items for our use? Do we need these items or are there alternatives that do not destroy our forests? We have to look at what we wear, eat and use. Do we really need a lot of clothes that we might wear once a year? Do we need to eat foods that have to be imported? Do we need to fly to exotic places for holidays? Do we need to have large petrol guzzling cars?

I’m sure you can think of many other things but these are just a few for your to think about.

Saving the planet – some random thoughts

I keep seeing adverts for doing things to save the planet. One I saw was about becoming vegetarian as that will save our planet. There are many others around as well. But it is much more complex than that. There are many things that we can all do to save our planet. It’s not just about plastic pollution either.

Here are some of the things that everyone of us, in the western world at least, can do to help:

we can look at the way we use water, washing clothes, in the toilet and shower or bath, buying bottled water to drink (why not use a filter for tap water);

we can use energy efficient light bulbs;

we can recycle things we not longer need that cannot be repaired and we can compost;

we can repair items that can be repaired, we have become a throwaway world and keep buying new items when we could repair the old ones;

we can look at the ways in which we produce food, how far we transport it and how we cook and consume it. Do we really need to import so much food from afar which costs so much in fuel and air pollution?

we can moderate our meat consumption and buy locally not just meat but other food items.

we can walk or cycle to places and leave the car at home, dry the washing outside, and use paper wisely.

These are only a few random thoughts and I am sure you will have many more but what I want to mention now is to me a very important part of saving our planet. We are all human but we are all unique and we need to learn to respect each other and to love each other unconditionally. We need to learn to work together and not be divisive. Co-operation is a good word. I know of areas where people have come together making a co-operative and buying, selling and making produce to sell. There are shops which sell preloved items which people find they no longer need. There is nothing wrong with buying used items. We also need to look at our clothes. The fashion world keeps changing ‘fashions’ every season and many feel they have to buy the latest type of clothes. Is this necessary? Keeping up with the Joneses has long gone. This also applies to gadgets. Do you really need the most up-to-date mobile phone?

There are a lot of things we can think about and if we look at what we eat, wear and use in our daily lives, maybe we can make some changes that will be of benefit to the planet. Choose wisely, our earth is precious to us and keeps us alive and also those that live on it, plants and other animals. Bear in mind also that plants too are sentient.

The Air around us

As a druid I love the element of Air. I love to be outside breathing deeply of the air around me. Of course that air needs to be clean not polluted and that brings me to my blog today. I am continuing the theme of life before pollution. Or was there no pollution in the air when I was young? Actually the air was more polluted then where I lived in my childhood than it is today but a lot of the pollution was different. I lived on the edge of a very industrial area, potteries, mines, steel and brick making plus many other types of manufacturing. The smoke was horrendous and you did not put your washing out on the line when the wind was blowing the wrong way bringing the smoke into your garden. Bronchitis was common as was asthma. Then the Clean Air Act came into force and things changed.

Now we have different kinds of air pollution. Farmers spray chemicals on their fields and a lot of it stays in the atmosphere. Even liquid manure gives off ammonia, a poisonous gas. But what about the silent polluters, the radio waves and other electromagnetic waves of our mobile phones, their masts and the electricity pylons. I am sensitive to such things in the air. I can’t walk by an electricity pylon as it makes me ill. The same with mobile phone masts and there are many of them now. They seem to spread like wildfire.

Many years ago Rachel Carson wrote the book ‘Silent Spring’ mainly about the effects of the insecticide DDT. A recent book has been written about the electronic silent spring, the pollution of our technology. But there is also air pollution in our homes caused by things like scented candles, not all of which are natural, and those air fresheners which many people love but which cause me to cough and splutter for a long time. Many of the fumes from these are toxic and affect our nervous system. We need to think about the items we use in the home and outside in the garden and be aware of what happens to our bodies when we breathe in these toxic fumes.

There are many more ways of polluting the air but I am sure you know most of them. So let’s think about how to make our air cleaner as well as our seas, rivers and streets. A big job but if we all did our bit then it would improve. One last thought, many of us have central heating. What is in the steam that is emitted when the boiler is on? That steam goes out into the air we breathe. What effect does it have on that air?

Before cling film, aluminium foil and most plastics

There is so much in the news nowadays about our overuse of plastics and similar items. So today I am going back in time to my childhood and early adulthood to see how I lived without cling film, foil and plastic.

First of all I’ll look at the way my mother and I shopped for food. We had a shopping bag that was only for the use of vegetables and when we visited the greengrocers each item was placed directly into the bag. Potatoes went first as they were generally dirty, followed by carrots, parsnips and then other veggies and fruit. At the butchers, meat was wrapped in greaseproof paper and then other paper. This applied to such things as cheese and butter as well. There was no margarine around at that time! Sweets were weighed out and then put in a paper bag as were many other things.

I remember the large brown stewpot we had for stews. There were no casserole dishes around then, no slow cookers or microwaves either. There was no foil for cooking so any roasted items made a mess in the oven which was my job to clean as a teenager. But we were never ill! Sandwiches were wrapped in greaseproof paper and then perhaps placed in a tin. Cakes and pies were cooked and saved in large tins. I do remember the days before refrigerators. We had a larder, a small walk in cupboard which had a marble slab in it for keeping food cold. We also had a smaller cupboard with a mesh door in which we kept meat, covered with a dish or plate and other items. In hot weather, milk stood in a bucket of cold water in the larder.

We bought soap in bars and had one kind for the kitchen and another for the bathroom. The bathroom soap came wrapped in a thin roll of cardboard and some paper. Soap powder for laundry purposes was just that, soap powder and it came in a cardboard box. Milk was brought by the milkman with his ‘float’ or cart and horse (in my childhood) and the milk bottles were washed and returned to the milkman. Bottles of beer and lemonade could be purchased from the local pub outside sales and the empty washed bottles returned. We often had to pay a deposit on the bottle but got it back when we returned it.

Recently I have seen some large supermarkets start to use paper bags to put veggies and fruit in instead of using plastic bags. This is a good start. In the UK too much packaging is used. I know of a cake manufacture who places two slices of cake in a plastic tray, covers the tray with more plastic then puts three of these, covered in more plastic inside a cardboard box. This is far too much packaging.

So what can we do about all of this. We can start by refusing to buy products with too much packaging, work on persuading more companies to protect their products with reusable or recyclable packaging. I have been told that some larger supermarkets will also take from you items such as bread wrappers, plastic potato and other vegetable bags and recycle them. I am sure you will have plenty of other ideas but I find that as a druid I must protect our planet as much as I can. It’s not easy but we can all do our bit and then maybe others will follow and we will get rid of all the pollution we have.

Thoughts for the end of the year

This year has had many happy parts but also many sad parts too as friends and family have travelled to the Summerlands. Some themes have been strong in my life though and I have tried to help others to think about the way they live their lives. I have written about the wonders of nature and how I appreciate it. I have written about complacency and uncertainty recently too.

During this festive season gratitude has been foremost in my mind. I am so lucky to have a roof over my head, to have enough food and clothes and also to have a few good friends and family around me. I think about refugees from tsunamis and those feeling oppression in their country and I am thankful that I do not have those kinds of things to deal with.

I have also been thinking about how some people seem to want more and more material things and rush off to the sales to get as much as they can carry whether they need it or not. There is a big difference between wanting something and needing something and I always try to think if I need something before I buy it. Of course I do buy some things I don’t really need as we all do but I try not to do this often.

Over the last few days I have seen posts on social media about the amount of food and drink people have partaken of recently. Is this necessary? Does an excessive amount of food and drink do your health any good? Why not give the excess food to those in need.

Then there is the pollution debate. Plastics, air pollution, water pollution are all there up at the front. I try to do as much as I can about all of these. I try to only buy plastic that can be recycled or reused, I try to keep the air around me clean, I don’t have a car and I stopped flying to other countries many years ago. There is so much we need to think about in the world of today if we are going to make the world a better place for everybody. Next year gives us 365 days of challenges to do this. Think of something you can do each day to make the world a better place for at least one person. That is my plan.