Silly Saturday – Season of Sustainability

Are you ready to recycle Christmas? Whether you want to save money or the planet the Xmas season is to be avoided. Our consumption of pastry and plastic increases drastically at this time of year, followed after Christmas by throwing most of it away. Even that which we cannot see, gas and electricity, is used in abundance. This is partly the fault of the earth’s axis in the northern hemisphere; it is winter and the nights are long, we need heat and light, but do we need all our houses lit up like Las Vegas with generators pumping air into giant inflatable snowmen? Bring back Scrooge…  Most people complain that their councils haven’t put up enough lights, not too many. Of course it is the colourful lights that make dark winter afternoons more bearable…

2

Perhaps you can still have fun with a guilt free Christmas. One of the few things Prince Charles and I have in common is that our worries about the environment were laughed at in years gone by… My favourite part of Christmas is unwrapping presents carefully and folding the paper ready for ironing and reuse next year. Now even wrapping paper is bad, shiny and plasticised, we have to use plantain leaves instead.

And what gift is wrapped inside? Our love of cute and fun presents has encouraged the passage of thousands ( I don’t claim the statistics to be accurate ) of container ships full of plastic rubbish. Let’s all make our own presents and decorations or buy them from charity shops and give aunty back the vase you gave her last year which she dumped at the Red Cross shop. Last year we did Secret Santa for the adults, this year we are doing the same except we have to get gifts from charity shops – I’ll let you know in the new year if it’s a disaster!

79351415_760342234482593_3445685926087360512_n

Last year I crocheted an advent calendar for a little person; I don’t claim to have designed it, I do claim it does not look quite like the picture in the Christmas crochet book I bought at the knitting shop. I made another one this year for his little brother, which looks even less like the illustration. The key point; it is in line with government policy on child obesity, there are no chocolates in the pockets; I cut little pictures out of recycled Christmas cards. My next project is knitted crackers – the sort with a joke inside, not the sort you eat with cheese.

45005967_492968894518462_576590623524519936_n(1)

The best decorations are those our ancestors used for Yuletide, totally organic and natural, holly and ivy. If the holly in your garden bears no berries, creep round to your neighbours after dark and surreptitiously snip off some branches. You can also pick up odd branches that have fallen off the trees in the park during windy weather and stick a few sprigs of holly in to make a table decoration.

Whether you knit grandma a scarf with huge needles and chunky wool or create exquisite treasure boxes with your wood turning skills, home made presents show you care – or that you are flat broke. If you are an author you can give friends and family autographed copies of your own books, whether they want one or not. Cyberspouse says at least it’s one way of getting rid of them.

DSCN2720

If you don’t fancy DIY gifts there are still environmentally friendly alternatives. Have your children got too many toys? It’s probably a bit late for this Christmas, but start next year stashing away surplus toys; by next Christmas they will have forgotten them and you can rewrap them.

One year we gave the elderly relatives (who were always saying they didn’t need anything ) gifts from World Vision, but they were a little confused. This idea can backfire if the receiver is upset they aren’t getting a real goat to keep, or insulted that you have given them a toilet.

https://www.worldvision.org.uk/ways-give/buy-gift/

For more ideas to help the environment follow Carol Taylor’s regular blog.

https://carolcooks2.com/category/environment/

What are the best or worst home made presents you have given or received? Are you making your own decorations?

liebster-award

 

 

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – Snakes and Stairs

Play the Gaia Game; how are you scoring at saving the planet, will you climb up or slither down?

21

Round One: Life

1.Have you been born?

Slide down the Adder for adding another carbon footprint.

2. Have you given birth to more than two children?

Slip down the Viper

3. You have assisted in the conception of four children, but they have become doctors and environmental scientists.

Climb the stairs, you have contributed to humanity.

4. Have you lived more than three score years and ten?

Descend the Python.

5. You have lived four score years, but ride your bicycle to the allotment where you teach the local school children to grow vegetables?

Take your nimble legs up two flights of stairs.

red colorful orange black
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Round Two: Home

1.Do you live in a city penthouse forty floors up?

Take the lift down to the basement – wait, you don’t own a car because you can cycle and walk everywhere in the city? Take the lift back up again.

2.Has your remote jungle village been discovered yet?

No? You are not contributing to world pollution. Take the escalator to the top floor. Oh, you haven’t got an escalator…

3.Have you installed solar panels on the roof of your house?

Take a flight of stairs.

4.You have concreted over your garden to park three vehicles and a caravan.

Go down the Cobra.

15

Round Three: Food

1.Would you describe yourself as a subsistence farmer?

Ascend the marble staircase… but you chop all the trees down for firewood?

Sorry, slide down the Anaconda.

2.Are you vegan?

Climb up to the moral high ground.

3.Are you vegetarian?

Stay where you are.

4.Do you eat meat?

Slip down the throat of the Boa Constrictor. No wait, there has been an appeal. You farm hill sheep and preserve the countryside and use some of your land for a wind farm.

5.Do you grow your own vegetables and keep chickens in your suburban garden?

Yes, but you’re so busy you use disposable nappies. Miss a go.

green and white snake on branch
Photo by Stephen Joel on Pexels.com

Round Four: Transport

1.Do you own a car?

No, climb two flights of stairs, easy for you as you are fit from walking everywhere…. but your partner has a car and chauffeurs you around? Topple down a flight.

2.You cycle everywhere and wear one of those vests that says one less car on the road.

Excellent, you earn enough points to eat meat.

3.You flew on holiday to Disneyland, return to Go.

4.You took your private jet to the other side of the world to help refugees?

Gaia says return to Go.

4

Round Five: Power

1.Do you write about the environment in your blog and sign petitions? Does your computer work on solar power? No – miss a go.

2.You got arrested for protesting about fracking. Climb the ladder.

3.You live as a hermit on a remote island.

Excellent, but before taking your next go describe your contribution to society.

dscn4725.jpg

Winner

The winner, Mr. Everly Green, has a small house just the right size for his wife and two children. His roof has solar panels, he has eight rain water butts, grows fruit, vegetables and bee friendly flowers among which roam chickens to fertilise the garden and provide eggs and roast dinners. He walks to work and does not go on holiday as he can’t leave the garden.

But hold on, his win is being contested; that bouquet of flowers he ordered from the florist for his mother’s birthday was composed of cut flowers flown in from Kenya and his prize winning front garden display used plants that came in plastic pots and trays on a pantechnicon from Holland.

Mr. Green must take the serpentine descent of shame.

gray snake on black rock formation
Photo by Ajayvir Pal on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction 500 – Biodegradable

Cauldrons bubbled, paddles stirred, pumps rose and fell. The dye selector scurried along seeking indigo and sunflower to make that special shade of green for Familyfresh.

Malcolm Rust loved machinery and money, in that order. Childhood visits to industrial museums had given him a love of pistons and presses. The only history he was interested in at school was of Victorian valleys filled with furnaces and engineering entrepreneurs making a mint, so they could build great houses on top of hills looking down on their wealth. His weekends as a teenager had been spent scouring the country for redundant factory equipment and thinking of money making projects to fund his hobby.

He had no interest in the environment, except as the provider of water courses to power mills, until he met Melissa. She worked with his mother at the new Veganarium that had replaced the cheese and bacon shop. His mother needed a job, but for Melisa it was her whole way of life.

As far as Malcolm was concerned food was fuel, the same as coal, wood and diesel for his beloved machines. But as Melissa chattered on about recipes for allergen free biscuits and biodegradable wrappers, he thought he might find a way to her heart. Why not make the biscuits and packets with the same recipe? It was time to investigate corn starch and fructose.

DSCN3520

Now he was no longer Mr Rust, but Mr Green, inventor of the edible carrier bag and three days ago Melissa had become Mrs. Green. Channel Four was making a documentary about their plans for a perfect Ecohouse with living walls.

But no sooner had the carrier bags become familiar in every supermarket than the first criticisms began to appear on social media. Members of the public no longer had to feel guilty about plastic or litter; discarded sweet wrappers, takeaway boxes and shopping bags would all be eaten by wildlife, from snails to deer. In fact the carrier bags were so delicious, passing dogs were liable to take a bite out of your shopping.

Then came the first news story from the Familyfresh Fairtrade supermarket. Overnight, all the bundles of new carrier bags had disappeared from the store room. The first clue to the mystery came when three large rats scampered across the feet of the store manager. He ran out into the main store, only to see several more rats slip away from the checkouts. The second clue was the remnant of a carrier bag hanging limply, serrated with huge teeth marks.

A meeting of COBRA * was called after pest exterminators made urgent reports of supersized rats, gardeners posted pictures on Facebook of giant snails and a photograph appeared on breakfast television of a fox the size of a deer hound. Malcolm was summoned to reveal the ingredients of his carrier bags…

33500818_2101460066550439_5825106909107060736_o

*Cobra stands for Cabinet Office briefing room A. Cobra meetings are held in Downing Street to plan government responses in times of emergency.

Friday Flash Fiction – Summer of Eighteen

Summer of Eighteen

 It was the Summer of Eighteen, the summer we thought would never begin, then never end. Flowers bloomed in a blaze of late glory then withered under the relentless sun; first there was the hosepipe ban, then the pipe ban. The ferryman was out of business, people could walk across the river at low tide. Until they emptied the municipal pool, to send tankers to market gardeners, it had been a duck and swan rescue centre. Everyone became a fisherman till the last gasping fish was scooped off the river bed.

The heath fires never went out, they joined up. After the power cuts people gathered at the edge of the heath to bake the last of the vegetables in the embers, though there was no shortage of venison. When the wild fires started on the cliff top the promenade was put out of bounds. At high tide we made our way down the narrow river channel round to the cove where we trod on burning sand and pebbles.

The leaves dropped from the trees, but autumn never came.

35886313_2139447919418320_9163025049106513920_n(1)

As I surveyed the cracked river bed I noticed him, Ben the Boiler, Evan the Inventor, we’d called him at school. Nobody had wanted his inventions so he went to work for Plumbprompt Services. Now, nobody wanted heating and there was no water to fill the boilers. Benjamin Evans was rolling logs under a stranded boatwreck. He wiped sweat from his brow, more from habit than any chance of relief.

‘How’s the sailing going Ben?’

‘Laura? Green Laura Green from school?’

‘Yup.’

I picked my way across the baked ruts; a river bed does not look how one imagines.

‘Did you get your degree in environmental science Laura?’

‘Got a first,’ I retorted ‘work for the National River Authorities now.’

He laughed. ‘Made redundant then.’

‘Planning to sail across the world?’

‘Only to the Isle of Wight.’

‘Conditions are no better there, Tennyson’s rolling green downs are the colour of toast and Freshwater Bay has none.’

‘It will soon, I can turn sea water into fresh.’

dscn4175.jpg