…live sustainably, discerning what is enough.
“We’re Full!” reads the sign in some of our charity shops for they are currently overwhelmed with donations and they simply cannot accommodate any more as supply exceeds demand. This situation is a symptom of a combination of a multitude of factors that culminate in the acquisition of more things than we want, let alone need.
One of the IBVM’s Calls is to live sustainably, discerning what is enough and we can all rise to the challenge of applying this in our lives and reducing our consumption. Through deliberate discernment prior to making purchases to avoid impulse buying, borrowing something rarely used rather than buying your own and declining free, promotional merchandise that becomes clutter, are all effective strategies at reducing our own consumption.
Inevitably, some functional items do become obsolete in our homes. As children grow too big for their clothes and too old for their toys, people downsize and as hobbies are abandoned we can be left with a lot of items that are still in good or even great condition. When donating to a charity is not an option, Freecycle is a thriving online community that facilitates the re-homing of such items, and more, to people who will give them a longer life.
In just a few generations, we seem to have lost the ‘make do and mend’ mentality shared by our older relatives, as well as the skills and time required. In addition, the cost of replacing items is typically lower than paying someone to repair the item. The internet is a great resource for tutorials on how to fix broken or damaged items and restoring items to their former glory can provide one with a sense of accomplishment as well as keeping items out of landfill. For those who lack the skills or confidence, taking items to a Repair Café or Fix-it Café is an option. There is a growing wave of such cafés popping up over the Sydney area, including Lane Cove, Marrickville, Parramatta and Granville. Skilled volunteers provide their services free of charge to fix a wide variety of household items and mend damaged clothes.
When we leave a potential purchase in the shop, we can know that ultimately one less item will be bought to replace the stock, one less item will be shipped, one less item will be manufactured, a little less fuel and energy will be used, a little less carbon dioxide will enter the atmosphere, fewer resources will be extracted from our beautiful planet and a little bit less damage to ecosystems will occur. A culture shift is needed away from consumerism and to ecological justice and we can all play our part to magnify the ‘one less’ and ‘little bits’ to make the impact on the planet much more significant.
… the real question is how human cultures organise themselves, relate to the world around them…the ecological crisis is both caused and solved by human cultures. Ecological issues invite both a complexity of interconnection but also a simplicity of possible responses. Because we remain only human, and our greatest tool is culture.
Mrs Elizabeth Cranfield