Tag Archives: carbon

Costing the Earth

Here’s a handy list of things to avoid if you want to reduce your carbon impact.

Don’t own or use private jets.

Don’t own or use massive private yachts. The kind of little yachts that have sails are fine.

Don’t own a large company that is involved with ecocide. Don’t extract fossil fuels, don’t frack, don’t cut down rainforests, don’t pay people to do those things for you. Don’t own a massive agrobusiness. Don’t steal water from people or poison their water supplies. Don’t use massive fishing nets and industrial fishing boats.

Don’t lobby governments on behalf of any of those ecocidal companies.

Don’t invest in cryptocurrency.

Don’t go on cruise ships.

Don’t own or drive an SUV.

Don’t throw your clothes away after only wearing them once.

The odds are of course that only the last four things on that list are even options you have. This is because the vast majority of us are not the ones doing the vast majority of the harm. However, not doing the last four is still relevant and important, and it’s always worth doing what you can do.

The biggest job, for the majority of us, is changing the culture that celebrates poisonous over-consumption and pushing for laws to restrict it, and to end ecocide. 

In search of greener clothes

Clothing has a huge environmental impact. Throwaway fast fashion puts out a lot of carbon and adds a lot to landfill. Plastic fabrics put plastic particles into the environment. Cotton takes a lot of water to produce. Wool can be good, or can have land and animal welfare issues associated with it. Hemp and bamboo fabrics seem to be pretty good, but they’re also much more expensive.

Cheap clothing is made in awful conditions and there’s a huge social justice angle to changing how we buy and use clothing.

In terms of personal impact on the environment, we can make a lot of difference with our clothes choices. Never throw away clothes that could be given away and worn by someone else. Don’t buy clothes with the intention of wearing them once or twice. Try to buy the most durable clothes you can. Buy second hand if you are able to  – not everyone has time, energy or a conventional enough body-shape for this. Keeping fabric in use isn’t hard.

I’ve got into upcycling. The skirt I’m wearing in the photo is made from school shirts. The shirts in question were unusable as shirts – worn at the collars, marked, stained and otherwise damaged. I threw away the ruined fabric and made a skirt from the salvaged material. My knickerbockers were made from a pair of trousers that died.

The shirt I am wearing was salvaged from landfill by an innovative lad who is exploring more responsible approaches to fashion. A lot of stuff is thrown away before it even gets to the shops, but this can be salvaged and used, and in this case, has a steampunk weasel printed on it. (Weasel designed by Tom Brown). When I can point at a store for this, I will.

I have a lot of fun keeping cloth out of landfill. It creates interesting challenges and I end up with unique items of clothing. I have a horror of looking like the sort of person who has bought all their clothes from a supermarket, but I don’t have a huge clothing budget for fancy gear. This approach saves me money, which means when I buy new I have more scope to make more sustainable choices.

Making personal changes to fight climate chaos

How much would you be personally willing to change your life in order to help avoid climate chaos? 

I feel strongly that we really need government action. We need the fossil fuel industry brought to heel and the voices of its lobbyists rejected by those in power. We need rules that hold those with most influence to account – rules about built in obsolescence, single use plastics, and what goes to landfill, for example. We need the right to repair. Those kinds of things have to be organised by governments. We need governments to tackle pollution and infrastructure. Banning massive cruise ships and private jets would be a good idea.

Every one of the 100 companies that most pollute the planet does so because people buy its products. So long as they feel like they can get away with it, they will. 

Making it the job of ordinary individuals to fix things is a cop-out from politicians, and totally unfair. But at the same time, if we aren’t prepared to change things in our own lives, how can we expect change to happen?

For us regular folk, there are four areas of life to particularly consider. These are only going to be an issue if you aren’t living at the margins.

Transport – including luxury journeys, holidays, flights. If you’re stuck with a commute, can you liftshare sometimes, or work from home one day a week? How much travel do you feel entitled to? 

Food – how much food do you waste? How overpackaged is your food?  How far has your food travelled? What are the carbon and water costs of your food? Are you eating unsustainable animal products? If you don’t really know where your meat came from, then the odds of it being a massive driver of climate change are really high. 

Heating – is your home insulated? (not a question for renters, obviously). How are you sourcing your energy? How much energy do you use on luxury things? 

Clothes – fast fashion is a terrible industry with massive impact on the planet. Too many people throw clothes away after wearing items once or twice. Overwashing has a huge environmental impact. Clothes production requires a lot of resources. We urgently need to use less and throw less away and really all this takes is care and effort and those who can afford to buy disposable clothing not doing so. This is the easiest area for change to occur, and the one where there are no real excuses. 

Changing your life requires effort. Often, in my experience that effort brings its own benefits and you can end up improving your quality of life by making better choices.

Where do dreams come from?

Whether we’re talking about what happens when we sleep, or what happens when we daydream, dreams are significantly informed by our every day experiences. What we’re exposed to gets in. This means what is around us in our immediate environment. People we spend time with. Stuff we do. Things we watch. Books we read. It all goes in. From it we weave the often irrational seeming dreams we have at night, and we also create our ideals, hopes, aspirations and desires.

It’s worth pausing now and then to see what is coming in and where it comes from. What are you feeding your mind with? How much of that is advertising designed to sell products? How much of it normalises western consumer culture? How many of your daydreams come from what your society encourages you to want – fame, fortune, the fast car, the white carpet in the immaculate living room, the exotic holiday…?

Are you dreaming, and daydreaming as a Pagan? If you look at the imagery of your dreams, you’ll find the answer soon enough. If you can see your Paganism in your night time dreaming, it’s a good indicator that you are living it while awake. That doesn’t have to mean deities and mythic content – in my case it means that my dreams are full of landscape. Often when we analyse dreams, the temptation is to try and find meanings in specific symbols. However, it can be well worth looking at dreams over time, to pick up trends. The overall shape of your dreaming over a period of weeks or months can tell you a lot about what’s influencing you. A dream diary can be a good way of exploring this.

We’re being sold commercial dreams designed to lock us into patterns of work, consumerism and frantic, carbon guzzling leisure pursuits. These advertising-induced dreams keep us working, struggling, getting into debt, running after things we can’t have, and destroying our home and habitat as we go along. Reclaiming our dreams is part of how we change this. Taking back control of our longing and desire, and taking back control of what feeds our unconscious dreaming gives us a lot more options.

Perhaps one of the key things here, is how we handle instant gratification. Often, instant gratification – in the buy now pay later mode – is offered as a bad thing. But, life is now. It’s not next year, or when you retire. The dreams we are encouraged to aspire to are so often set just out of reach. When we get the promotion, the pay rise, or some other distant thing happens, then we can have the stuff we really want. The simpler our desires are, the easier it is to gratify them. An afternoon pottering in the garden, a night out dancing, a meal with friends – these are things you can have quickly. These are the kinds of things a good life is made of. If we’re always working towards some big dream, we may never get round to being happy in the moment, satisfied with what we have, or able to enjoy life.

Your dreams – especially your night dreaming, are in some ways very natural. That doesn’t mean dreams are immune from human influence. Dreams are made of what we absorb. Dreams can tell us a lot about what we expose ourselves to and what effect that has on us. Question your dreams and make sure they really are yours, and not someone else’s marketing strategy.

More about dreaming in my book, Pagan Dreaming, available from most places that sell books…  https://www.bookdepository.com/Pagan-Dreaming/9781785350900

Weighing your heart

There’s a concept in Egyptian myth about how, in the afterlife, the heart of the deceased is weighed against a feather. A heart that is too heavy with sin and guilt will sink and is eaten, and thus endeth everything for that person. I have absolutely no certainty about what happens to us when we die, but I have read a few things that interest me around how the consciousness we develop might impact what we get when our bodies pack up.

So, with no assumptions about the literal truth of any of this, what might make our hearts weigh heavy, and what might lighten them?

It would seem obvious to think about the weight of pain we have caused to others as balanced against the love, joy and compassion we have brought into the world. How does that balance up? The odds are we do not really know. We can look at our intentions, and whatever feedback we get, but quite how we affect anyone else remains a mystery. Doing good things is no guarantee, because there are people who take offence at bleeding heart do gooder types. In being nice to people we can reinforce their most destructive behaviours. In insisting on thinking the best, we can become enablers of abuse. If we do not know the consequences of our actions, how does that weigh on our hearts?

‘Sin’ is a word I find difficult. The idea of sin is so often religiously based and doesn’t have as much as it might to do with how we treat each other and the planet. Which leads me round to the thought that prompted all of this. I woke this morning with the idea of a carbon balance in my mind. If there are gods who weigh and measure, what if the current balance is all about our carbon? How big is your carbon footprint? How many trees have you planted? How much carbon is there, weighing on your heart?