Monday, 6 June 2011

Sun 5 June - The Money-Less Man & A Little Bit of Tobacco

With each passing day KP has been getting more and more excited until he has almost reached feverish peak.  I, too, caught in the wake of his unadulterated enthusiasm, became quietly optimistic and enthused.  I think he finally gets it.  And the source of such animated passion?

A fascinating book from Mark Boyle called The Money-less Man - A Year of Freeconomic Living (The Money-less Man).  Absolutely brilliant.  A very fresh, a very radical, a very witty and different way of looking at and living in our world.  

It also looks at and questions our lives and the way we are all caught up on the hedonic treadmill, and its not making us happy.  

The Hedonic Treadmill:  

We work long hours to buy those things that give us a burst of pleasure - a new phone, a new car, but the pleasure doesn't last.  To get another pleasure fix, another phone, another car, we must work more long hours to earn more money.  We have our pleasure fixes, we have our acquisitions.  But we have no time or energy to enjoy them.  Our relationships get strained, we move on, we still keep searching, keep buying, keep getting that fix.  

There is an alternative.  There is another way.  

The Positive Psychologists have discovered that the happiest people are those who have raised their baseline in ways that didn't need repeated doses of new acquisitions.  The happiest people had four factors in common:  strong social connections, meaning in their work, they were able to work with, and use, what they considered their strongest talents, and they had some sense of a higher purpose.  

Simple.  I could see us hovering on the cusp of a return to the old values.  I don't mean being quite as far out and revolutionary as Boyle, who spent a year living without money (not a single penny passed through his hands), but it was certainly time to stop procrastinating and start practising what we preached.


Stage 1

Food waste
(A)  Keep it local - keep out of those damned supermarkets, the source of many woes.  A key player in taking us away from small scale local production and supply, seasonal produce, buying what we need rather than what we're told (tricked) that we need.  These giant corporates have driven us to accepting and fueling, intensive and very dangerously destructive, farming practices.  E-coli, case in point.  
We buy things we don't need, we cause massive waste and food piles by demanding the perfect shape and size, and we don't give a second thought to the season, or the miles it's travelled, or the labour and conditions in some far off country where the food has been produced.

This way?
Or this way?
We don't need the supermarkets.  So get rid.  I've done it before, can do it again.  Bit harder this time though.  In a foreign country.  In a place where the shop keeper behind the counter fulfils your products for you.

I can see some amusing times coming on as I try to use my best, but very bad, Italian, in reading out my shopping list.  Things like rubber gloves, washing powder and toilet cleaner oddly enough don't seem to appear in my phrase book.  And where on earth do you find ant powder?  But I won't let it put me off.

(B)  No more using the car for journeys less than 5km.  We're fit, we're cyclists, so why do it?  No brainer.  Easy.

(C)  No more tea bags.  Should also be no more coffee too, but that would be a step too far, too soon.  I am only human you know, and I do rather like my coffee.  Maybe in time, but not yet.  The goals must be achievable.  

Tea is far more simple, we drink a lot of it but the means of making it are in abundance all around us.  Nettles and mint.  Why add to all the thousands of horrendous food miles involved in the production of this everyday commodity when all we need do is go out into the garden:

Common garden mint
Mint or nettle tea:  pick a few leaves, bruise them and infuse them for 5 minutes in hot water, add a little honey or sugar and there you have it. Simple and delicious.

Our musings along the line of growing and drying leaves did also take us dangerously down the road of considering a little tobacco growing cottage industry, but I'm not sure we really ought to go there.  One to be parked me thinks.

(D)  Food for free is all around us.  Learn about it, seek it out, write notes, find recipes.  Forage.  Time consuming initially, maybe.  But do it.  

So there you have it.

Stage 1 starts on Monday.

Stages 2 and 3, involving compost toilets, chickens, rabbits and bartering to follow.

1 comment:

  1. Plenty of Ant powder here. Would not be keen to carry through customs ,border controls etc: (white powder....)

    Otherwise....this post.

    A great way to go.