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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Live Simply that others may Simply Live

Having spent my formative years in a convent there are certain things which I find I cannot ignore. Lent tends to be one of them. I try to find something that will make me a better person, or the world a better place. . . . not easy in this day and age**, but I am not of the belief that giving up chocolate really encompasses all that Lent is!! (Although giving up chocolate and donating all the saved money to charity is a good option!!)

**That reads like I can't be made a better person and as I am fundamentally flawed in many aspects I wouldn't want anyone to think that I thought myself perfect, but I hope you understand the broader meaning!!!**

Anyway, whilst visiting a friend’s website I came across a campaign taking place across the Catholic Church – Here . I am not Catholic, although I do have a fundamental belief in God, but this campaign seems so much more than religion, it is about living in harmony with the world around us. It is about being aware of the value of life and not the materials within it. It is about respecting our world and being aware that we can destroy it with our thoughtlessness, as easily as leaving a light bulb on.

I am a passionate believer that we over-consume! I look around my house and own so much that I don’t use, and of the stuff I use, a fair proportion of that I do not need! Trainers, shoes, coats, clothes, PC equipment, TV and associated paraphernalia, a cupboard full of DVD’s, mobile phone, kitchen equipment, garden tools, craft stuff, (Plus the list of “I wants” that I keep in the back of my diary for when I have a little money to spare. . . . hair straighteners, new hair dryer, guillotine for card-making, log maker, carpet shampooer (well so would you if you owned a Springer in the rain!) yarn, card, DVD’s, magazines, tracksuit for my race for life training (!).) OK I do use some of it (I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my PC!!!!) but as to needing it, well yes some of it….. but not all of it……. Not by a long shot! My amazing next door neighbour is 85 years old and has lived in the house all her life, she has only 6 electric sockets in the whole house, and no central heating. Now I'm not suggesting we should all live like that, but I use more electricity than that to fire up my PC!!!! It's shameful really!

Then there is food. . . . animals are slaughtered to provide us with food, but so much is left to waste as modern society doesn’t know how to use the odds and ends of the animal. I can remember watching that Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall programme a while ago, where he had groups of people stay at River Cottage HQ and he was trying to teach them to use the chicken carcass to make stock.. One man went off on a total tirade to camera about “Who does he think we are – paupers? we don’t need to cook like this any more, I am better than this” – or words to that effect! – It struck me that he had kind of missed the point! Money was one issue indeed, Hugh was trying to show that with a little ingenuity a chicken can go further than a Sunday Roast, but the whole other issue was how much was being thrown in the bin – indeed a whole extra meal’s worth, and that is just shamefully wasteful!

When I gave up work, I had to re-evaluate my budget to a rather large extent! – and consequently thought I had rid myself of the need for material possessions, but it has not proved so, when I have a couple of extra pounds in my purse I find myself heading to eBay and perusing the bargains often just to spend for the sake of it, I have money, so I will spend it! . . . . it is indeed too much part of our modern-day life to ignore!

So my Lent pledge is to buy nothing that I want, and only that which I need and to pay a fair price for what I buy!– It shouldn’t be so difficult – it’s only 40 days. . . . . . but I have a feeling it’s going to be far harder than it should be! Wish me luck!


  1. good luck. I agree about the things we seem to "need" to buy. In fact, we've lately been having a big clearout of all unwanted books/toys/clothes etc and giving them to the local charity shop :)

  2. What a great blog for the day! Your sentiments are clear as is your purpose in our over consuming world.
    Water in Australia is becoming the greatest threat to the economy at the moment, the government has taken up the challenge suddenly. (well it is an election year)
    What concerns me is the same attitude you mentioned with the chicken in reference to water, that Sydney will not recycle water and opposes desalination, yet so many Sydney Siders demand the amount of water that goes with the lifestyle. It misses the point. Living on rain water that we collect gives a simple philosophy, you over use it and its more water, so we are very aware of this.
    We replaced light globes with the more energy efficient ones some time ago, and sad to say installed an air conditioner that was a freebie, and it does mean that I can work at home and not die in the new heat. However it is only used on extreme days, not run 365 days a year 24hrs on one setting as so many others do.
    How we stop the consuming is simple I fear...we will run out...and suffer the consequences of our actions.
    Australia with a 5-6 deg temp rise and sea levels up by metres no matter what we might change now, is a future reality, and yet the rush is now on to make as much money as possible whilst it still lasts.
    I commend you on your plan and wish there were many many more like you.

  3. Well done an excellent choice I think, I wish you luck and hope that you succeed!

  4. Good luck! A very worthwhile goal.

  5. Anonymous10:40 am

    Your writing and thinking embody the very essence of Lent and should make us all think deeply of our selfish wastefulness. However, let us also not forget that our wants. although not necessarily needs, enable someone else to earn enough for their needs. So I wish you luck for this 40 days and hope that we can all use this time to think of the future of the planet, and human and animal kind.

  6. that's a great idea for lent and I wish you well with it.

  7. What a thought provoking post.
    I wish you good luck, and will certainly try to cut down on my wastefulness.

  8. I am the same for hitting the online shops on payday, always spending frivolously and without the need for what I buy! I've been making a conscious effort to stop wasting money, and donate a little to charity instead, and while I shan't be giving anything up for lent, I shall be trying to be less wasteful in the long term;-)
    good luck:-)

  9. Well done! I am realising with a bit of a shock that ALL the stuff I have in storage back home is stuff I obviously don't need as I am living perfectly well without it. I do miss my books, but everything else I could just as well have sent to thrift shops.

    I have given up cake and sweet biscuits for Lent which I have done before. It's a hard one but good for me in more than religious ways ;-)

  10. Good luck with your lent abstinance. I really enjoyed your post and whole heartedly agree with your comments.


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