Thursday, May 1, 2014

What's Happening Out There

Long time followers of Footprints know that my favourite blog is The Non-Consumer Advocate. I also belong to the Non-Consumer Advocate group on Facebook and am always inspired by the people in the group. They’re not all non-consumers as such. Their reasons for being in the group are many and varied. Some want to save money, others are part of The Compact, some are trying to help the environment, others want to be ethical and some just love the challenge and the satisfaction of trying not to buy new things. Regardless of the reasons, we have become a vibrant on-line community. I’ve learnt a lot about what people are doing. At times, I feel like I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg of what I could be doing and need – at those times - to remind myself that anything I do helps.
Some people are willing to take their non-consumerism to lengths I’d never considered, doing things I’d never even heard of and I’d really like to share with you, in this post, some of the things that people are doing. Naturally, there is the usual: growing one’s own veggies and from that, canning and/or freezing and sharing surplus, bartering, buying second-hand, borrowing instead of buying, repairing and mending, taking advantage of special offers, buying in bulk, finding new uses for old things and simply deciding that the desired item isn’t a necessity. The list goes on.

Here are the things I want to add:

Oil Pulling
A couple of my cousins are doing this. It involves swishing and pulling oil – preferably unrefined organic coconut oil – around in one’s mouth for twenty minutes daily. It’s meant to remove bacteria and impurities from the body via the mouth. I’ve read articles on-line in favour and against. All I know is that the people who do it swear by it, saying it makes them feel better. If it works, it would go a long way towards keeping down medical and dental costs and be good preventive medicine. I haven’t tried it yet but am thinking of giving it a go.

Oil Cleansing
While I’m writing about oil, I’ll cover this one, too. Using a combination of the right oils can deep cleanse the face and remove excess oil from the skin. The idea is that oil attracts oil. I tried it but used the wrong oil. Interestingly, it dried out my usually combination skin. Used correctly I think it would be quite effective. It would certainly be a money saver for people who spend a lot on facial cleansers and would be a much more natural way to clean the face. I’m not sure if I’ll bother to try. I have a confession to make. I stopped using cleansers on my face as an experiment many months ago. It occurred to me that I was stripping the natural oils with cleanser which I would then replace with moisturiser. I decided to just use water and see what happened. Absolutely nothing. Nada. My face is clean with the right balance of oils. How’s that???

No Poo
This uses the principle of what I just wrote about my face and applies it to hair. The “poo” in no poo is shampoo. Some people have stopped using shampoo. Shampoo strips the scalp of its natural oils so the skin compensates by producing extra, thus leading to oily hair. People using no poo use a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead. Initially the hair goes through a greasy stage of adjustment. I’m really attracted to trying this but don’t want to go through that stage. I’ve thought of cutting my hair really short and taking it from there. I like the idea of not using shampoo. I use ones which don’t have SLS but I’d still prefer not to use it at all. It would certainly save money, cut down on packaging and help keep our waterways cleaner. My mother once joked when she had cancer that the upside to chemo was all the money she was saving on hair care.

Wet Wipes
From shampoo to real poo. There are people that use wet rags to wipe themselves after going to the toilet. Some only use them for wees, others for both. Then, just like with cloth nappies, the rags are put into a bucket to soak. Imagine how many trees would be saved if we all used old, unmendable t-shirts and linens to wipe ourselves. I love the idea – in theory. I certainly used cloth nappies for both of my kids. I think that’s one of the reasons I wouldn’t use wet wipes. I’m not grossed out or offended by it and I think it would get one’s bottom much cleaner. It’s just that I’ve been there and done that already with the kids. I don’t want to do it again.

Fanny Rags
If you know the expression “on the rag” you probably know that women once used “fanny rags” instead of disposable pads during their periods. Some have gone back to it, put off by all the chemicals in sanitary pads, the fact that they fill our dumps and waterways, as well as to save money. We must spend a fortune in our fertile lifetimes on those products! It’s a bit like using wet wipes in that soiled ones are put into a bucket to soak. Some people make cloth pads themselves, others buy them from companies such as Moonpads. There are also various internal, washable, reusable cups that can be used instead of tampons. I have no problem with any of the above-mentioned products whatsoever and am not grossed out at all. I have a couple of moonpads and like them. In fact, if I weren’t coming to the end of my child-bearing days I’d completely change over. For now, I'm just marking time.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Not Giving In To Consumer Temptation

Husband and I very nearly made two impulse buys recently. We just about talked ourselves into both of them  on the same evening. Fortunately, good sense prevailed and I was very proud of us, living out our Footprints principles.

Our children spent a lot of time away from home this past summer. Teenage Son owns the first four seasons of The Big Bang Theory and Husband and I, in the children’s absence, began watching them one night and ended up watching several each day. In no time we’d finished all four seasons and wanted to watch the fifth. Immediately. No delayed gratification for us.

That same night, we tried the home made frozen yogurt I’d made the previous day. It was my first attempt. I thought it would be a great way to use up some over ripe bananas and peaches, and some yogurt that was about to expire. My first attempt was none too successful. It was too hard and very icy. We decided to get an ice-cream maker. Since that was anti-Footprints, however, we decided to get the ice-cream making attachment for our mixer instead.

It was settled then. We’d go out the next day and buy the attachment and the next season of TBBT. Right? Wrong! As soon as we’d made the decisions we realised how stupid they were. Why contribute to the problem of conspicuous consumerism and go against our own values? Instead, we rented the DVDs from our local DVD rental store. Yes, we had to wait a couple of days but does that really matter? We have everything at our finger tips these days. Surely, waiting for a day or two won’t kill us. It didn’t.

As for the frozen yogurt; it was my first attempt, for goodness sakes! I’ve made many a recipe in my life that I’ve had to tweak and perfect over a few tries. Where’s the challenge and satisfaction in running out and buying an ice-cream making attachment? I’m not bagging ice-cream makers or anyone who uses one; I’m simply saying that I don’t think my reasons were valid.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Eulogy for a Childhood Home

As a child, I never lived in a house longer than five years. Sometimes, we only moved suburbs, other times states, and when I was seven we moved halfway across the world to Adelaide, where we continued to move house.

My maternal grandparents and their house at 153 Canal Street in Mobile, Alabama, were a source of constancy, however. The house originally belonged to my great-grandmother, who lived there at one time with her sister, several grown children, their spouses and children. By the time I arrived, nearly fifty years ago, only my Nana and Papa lived there.

The heart of the house was the kitchen. Nana was always in there. It was where she cooked, ate, read the paper, watched TV, listened to her police radio, drank coffee and entertained family and friends. And entertain she did. My childhood memories are full of great-aunts and great-uncles sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee, telling bawdy jokes and gossiping. They were fun, funny and completely irreverent.

My favourite part of the house was not inside, however. I spent long hours on the large front porch swinging on the swing as I watched the world go by, reading or chatting with anyone who came out to join me. I think it was Papa’s favourite place, too. He used to rise early and sit out there, with the dog at his feet, watching the sun come up.

My Nana and Papa died within eight months of each other and my mother sold 153 Canal Street. That was over twenty years ago. The house has still been known all these years, however, as “Aunt Mil’s”. There was a family reunion 18 months ago and a carload of relatives drove past to see where several of the descendants of “Johnny Murrill” (my great-grandfather) had lived.

I had fantasised about, one day, driving past with my children during a reunion and showing the house to them.  That really is just a fantasy now because I woke this morning to learn that 153 Canal Street had burnt down on Saturday evening.

Of course, the house would have just been an old house to them. They’ve never met any of my long-dead great-aunts and great-uncles. They can’t hear their laughter and voices as I still can. Neither do they know how it felt to be held tight cheek to cheek with Nana and feel her wrinkles against my cheek as she said, “Good morning, sugar.”

Ultimately, it was just a house. I’m still deeply saddened, though, that it no longer exists but overwhelmingly grateful to have such sweet and lasting memories of time spent in it.