Less consumption

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mudwoman, Oct 24, 2004.

  1. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    Green Alien's post reminded me of our short stay in Sidney, Australia and how that drastically changed my way of thinking. Thought I would share some things to show what could be done in this country differently.

    At the local grocery store, there was no "Plastic or Paper?" Was not available. Everyone brought their own cloth bags for carrying their groceries.

    Australia recycles an enormous percentage of everything. So, canned goods at the store were all in Ball type glass jars. NO metal cans. Glass is recycled.

    Meat was all at a meat counter and packaged in paper. NO styrofoam. No plastic wrap

    Milk still in glass jars.

    Even McDonalds was served on a plate that you took back to the counter to be washed if it wasn't "to go".

    NO prepackaged foods. NO cake mixes etc. You had the choice of baking from scratch or go to one of the wonderful bakeries all over to buy fresh breads, cakes, pies, cookies, muffins etc.

    All clothing was made from cotton, linen, silk, or wool or a combo of these. Worn out clothing is purchased by the pound and then recycled into wonderful upholstery fabrics and rugs and carpets.

    Most all furniture is purchased to have slipcovers. All high quality meant to last a lifetime. No cheap throw away stuff here.

    Garbage cans everywhere had signs for "glass" "paper" "aluminum". Aluminum canned drinks had a 5 cent deposit that would be returned upon returning to a recycling station.

    They still had men out with brooms in the early mornings sweeping the streets and Sidney was the cleanest city I have ever been to. Amazing.

    They still repair appliances. This was not long ago and a 20 inch color TV was over $1000. They don't just throw stuff out and buy new like we do because it is cheaper for us.

    They think of us in terms of being "Peddlers" and that we make HUGE amounts of trash. The truth hurts.

    Just a different way of thinking and living and you start to get a grasp of how we consume 20% of the world's resources and yet make up only 5% of the world's population.
  2. Ann-NWIowa

    Ann-NWIowa Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 28, 2002
    I bought cloth bags a number of years ago. The grocery stores do not like them as they are hard to bag. I've been using them for library books for 20 years and they are still in good condition. I shop at Aldis and bought their 15¢ plastic bags which I've been using for years. When I get home from Aldis and unload the bags, I fold them all into one bag and put them back in the car so I always have them with me.

    The plastic bags that I get from the other stores I use to line waste baskets. When I get too many I give them to Goodwill or Salvation Army who are always glad to have them. We recycle glass, cans, newspapers, magazines, cardboard & plastic milk cartons. Compost vegetable scraps. Pop cans are donated to local organization for their 5¢ deposit. All in all we usually have one 1/2 full kitchen size garbage bag go out for garbage collection each week for two people.

  3. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

    Jun 8, 2004
    I have recently been trying to explain to family members that 'care packages' to my Peace Corps Kid need to be stripped of 'trash'. Unwrap it, remove labels, no bubblewrap or styrofoam peanuts. She has no 'trash pick-up' where she is now.

    People on both sides of the family just don't seem to get this. "She can burn it", they say. "She can bury it'. I tell them, no, she can't. She is supposed to be setting an example of how to do things, not teach them our horrible throw-away habits, and turn the country she's in into a trash dump. They don't get it, but they'll do it. For her.

    Do you think folks will wake up when the landfill is climbing through their windows?

    A friend of mine is doing a study on garbage. She has discovered a guy who has taken cores of garbage dumps. They get so tightly packed, with no air (nobody turning the compost heap, here) that he has found 20 YEAR old corncobs deep in the dump, along with numerous other things that would have composted easily, with a little air. Amazing what we're doing to our world.

    Meg :)
  4. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

    Aug 26, 2003
    Great post. Always interested on here how people in other parts of the world live day to day. Its sick how many plastic bags stores use. Where do these bags end up? yup. landfill or in my case, the most polluting energy producer in the country for its size(energy company has a boiler that burns garbage!--or they like to call it RDF). Once oil x4 in price, you'll start seeing changes.
  5. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    SE PA, zone 6b
    There are several issues that I think will be critical in the near future. It would be so much easier if every person would be aware of them and begin acting.

    1. Price and availability of oil. This has a huge impact on our economy! Watch as Chinese are able to own more autos.

    2. Pollution and availability of ground water.

    3. Not enough jobs to accommodate the population.

    4. Disruptions of our food supply. Transportation costs, collapse of big mega corps of food production. They are only profitable because of gov't subsidies.

    5. More and more shortages of real estate driving the prices even higher. See #3 above.

    6. More and more countries are growing their own economies now. China, Brazil and others now growing corn and wheat, etc. to rival our own mega-food corps. In fact, some of them are participating in these new markets. Just wait til Russia really gets going on grain production.

    7. I am very concerned about "regulations". In these forums, I see many people affected by some regulation or other that seems to curtail more freedoms. I wonder where we should be drawing the line between the ability to market our products and the safety of the general population. There is zoning, food safety, taxes, etc.

    8. I think terrorism will be with us for quite awhile, disrupting the status quo.

    I think (thanks Gene Logsdon) that as many of us as possible need to be working toward less consumption, food self-sufficiency, solar and wind power, cisterns for rainwater, etc. I don't want to be unduly pessimistic, but the above issues are already starting to affect each and every one of us. Americans have always had the ability to cope with problems and find ways to solve them. I count on that, but also think it will be folks like those of us on this forum that will lead the way. I foresee a future when buying locally will no longer be just an option, but will be a necessity. Many of the things listed in the first letter in this thread can be implemented individually beginning immediately. These problems will be solved individually more than by the gov't taking care of us. Again, see #3 above. Gotta have taxes and income to pay for the gov't goodies.

    None of this should drive one to fear, but instead to doing something about it now, rather than some point in the future.
  6. kosh

    kosh Well-Known Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    What a great thread. We all need to start being less of a 'disposable' society if we want a clean environment for our children. Everything about our society is Fast Fast Fast, Super size and Disposable. Part of this is teaching our children the value of our world being clean. I am slowly working towards being more and more sustainable, and we all can. My next jump will be to a gas/electric hybrid vehicle. I hope to be able to get one of those hybrid Ford escape suv's. Not as good gas mileage as a hybrid car, but a lot better than a regular suv or truck, and I need to have a truck or suv. Another way we can all help our environment is by organically growing as much of our own food as possible and if we buy food at the store to not buy food with lots of packaging, and trying to buy as much local food as possible. Also commercially grown/raised food that is lower on the food chain, grown organically, has a much smaller impact on the environment than does non organic foods and animal products. Using environmentally friendly cleaning products, personal care products.. and in general more products that are 'all natural' and not made from petrolium products and chemicals that we cant even pronounce.

    What are other peoples ideas on ways to live more sustainable and less taxing on the environment?

  7. buellkat

    buellkat Active Member

    Oct 14, 2004
    West Mid Michigan
    I have also heard locally of stores changing from the plastic bags for the environment. How many have you seen "hanging" along the roadside stuck in a branch???

    Oil barrel prices are rising so maybe what was posted previous will help the change take place too.
  8. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

    Oct 14, 2004
  9. Janon

    Janon 993cc Geo Metro

    Aug 25, 2002
    Southern Ontario CANADA
    I heard the other day that we in Canada dump $27 million worth of pop cans into landfills every year. We have no deposit on cans.

  10. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

    May 9, 2002
    Manitoba, Canada
    We have a deposit on cans here in Alberta -- and we did in Saskatchewan and BC, as well -- and when we lived in Ontario (up until 95) we had recycling... of course, that was in Toronto and may have been a city program, rather than a provincial one. I have no idea of where you are in Ontario, but I can assure you, where my Dad lives in Muskoka, they have a recycling program for cans and bottles, and most plastics.

  11. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 9, 2002
    Janon have you not heard the one intelligent thing our Liberal Premier has said? He's thinking we need a deposit on aluminum cans. Well kudos to McGuinty but I'd bet on a hot winter before I believed he'd do it. Good post Mudwoman, but Americans are not alone, Canada is no better in this regard.

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

    Oct 17, 2004
    South Dakota
    I had to get in on this one....

    The trash problem is real simple..... Pass a law. Hell congress is good at that.
    Make it fully illegal to create trash and poof no more landfills, no more polluting vast acres of environment.

    Some of you are saying BS to this idea but think it over first. Everything that comes from the store can either be recycled or composted so why not do it?

    Glass - Recycle
    Paper - Recycle/Compost
    Metal - Recycle
    Plastic - Recycle
    Styrofoam - BAN THIS CRAP NOW
    Food stuffs - Compost

    Whats left?