Now you are married
Try to love the world
As much as you love
Each other. Greet it as your husband,
Wife. Love it with all your
Might as you sleep
Breathing against its back.
Love the world, when late at night,
You come home to find snails
Stuck to the side of the house
This is only an excerpt from Jenny Bornholdt’s poem, the rest of it follows this blog because it’s great and you really should read it all. I love her image of sleeping breathing against the world’s back as if it were our beloved. It should be our beloved. it’s our home yet the seas are overflowing with single use plastic and my children have asthma because we live in London - a city that has already reached its legal air pollution limit for the entire year. And. Breathe (if you can). So this Valentine’s Day I’ll be doing my best to love the world a little more. There are some really easy things that I'll be doing. The first is:
The easiest mindfulness practice (in my opinion) is to be aware of what’s around us: a bird singing, snow drops or crocuses in flower. This awareness is called ‘nature relatedness’ and environmental psychologists believe that the more we relate to nature the happier we are. A Canadian study showed those walking a route by a river lined with trees were more happy than those walking to the same point underground. It also showed students and hospital patients who could see nature from their windows were more well than those who couldn’t. The reasoning behind encouraging people to tune into nature is that it makes us care more about the things that make us feel good and take actions to protect it. This time of year is one of hope, it is the point before Spring when London is still pretty grey but there are hints of blossom, of birds returning, of bulbs flowering. Look out for them, appreciate them. Do you feel your heart rate and stress hormone levels lowering, your blood pressure dropping, your immune system boosting? It’s not the same as Japanese Forest Bathing but when one lives in a city we take what we can. Another easy thing to do this Valentine's is:
Seek Experiences instead of Possessions.
This Valentine’s my kids and I plan to make a picnic of heart shaped biscuits, sandwiches, fruit etc and make cards for my husband. Alex and I will get take out for dinner. We don’t need stuff to show our family members that we love them. The minimalists have a great maxim: love people, use things.
Miriam Tatzel is a researcher who concludes that happy people share a love of experiences over things. She argues the easiest way to decrease consumerism and the associated “pollution, climate change, degradation of natural resources,” is to emphasise the happiness found in doing over owning. “When people spend less time working and spending, they have more time for relationships and personal interests,” Tatzel says. This is a little simplistic I agree as interests such as rock climbing and fun experiences such as a walking holiday (in Glen Coe if anyone wants to come too?) cost money and require some equipment purchases. But the overarching philosophy is a good one. Of course we could borrow or buy second hand versions of the things we’ll need. Which leads me to:
Being Aware of the Environmental Cost of Creating Clothes
McKinsey Consultancy advise that making 1kg of fabric generates 23kg of greenhouse gases on average, and according the blog trash backwards 65% of the fabrics manufactured worldwide are synthetic. Those synthetic fibres are being shed into our environment through our grey water. Eek. That means that it is important to donate or recycle the clothes we no longer want and while we’re at it, try to buy second hand (natural fibre) clothes too. Trash backwards explains textile recycling in much more detail but very simply put: there are 2 types of textile recycling: fibre recycling and polymer recycling. Fibre recycling is when natural fibres are shredded and woven into thread for new fabric or carpets. Polymer recycling is the shredding and melting down of polyesters that are turned into plastic pellets and re-spun into fibres. About 65-70 percent of global polyester production is used for textiles. Most of the remaining 25-30 percent is used to make PET beverage bottles. Yes. More PET goes into the production of polyester fabrics than plastic bottles. Oh dear. When icebreaker merino was founded in 1995 all outdoor performance clothing was synthetic. Their goal was to develop natural clothing that was just as warm. They pride themselves on their biodegradable, renewable, ethically sourced product and we are loyal customers. And, there are loads of:
Clothing Companies with Good Ethical and Environmental Credentials. For example Patagonia have amazing ethical practices. Their philosophy is: At Patagonia, the protection and preservation of the environment isn’t what we do after hours. It’s the reason we’re in business and every day’s work.
People Tree are a more “fashion forward” business that also invest in local communities and work with organic farmers. My children like to try on their clothes before we buy them, so a UK High Street store that has good ethical practices is POP. Luckily consumer pressure is creating a demand for better practices in the fashion industry so a quick check on ethicalconsumer.org or rankabrand.org will give you the information you need to make an informed purchase. Of course when you do decide to go shopping Is there any chance that you could:
Walk or Take Public Transport?
London has brilliant public transport so I get annoyed at all the Range Rovers and their exhaust fumes blocking the narrow streets of our neighbourhood during school drop off and pick up. According to Living Streets the school run generates two million tonnes of CO2 every year and - surprise - converting car journeys to walking improves local air quality and contributes globally to a reduction in carbon emissions. Living Streets also points out that children who walk to and from school meet Government exercise targets, are alert and ready to learn. They also point out that walking is money saving but also increases business for local shops. It is also a lower health spend for local authorities. If I’m honest I’m not so fussed about local authority spending, one thing that Living Streets forgot to list is that walking with kids is a very natural springboard for conversation.
While I’m not stressing about traffic, I can focus on my children as they decompress or talk through tricky social situations from their day. From time to time they even tell me some of the things they learnt that day. The other thing about walking is that we are fully in control of our time. Walking can be paced up or down depending on when we need to be somewhere. When one is stuck in traffic, you just don’t know what time you’ll be at your destination.
It might just be my husband and I who find the thought of being late incredibly stressful. Humans are drawn to people who value the same things as us so Alex and I together make a slightly stress-y (but very organised) pair. Luckily we are happy together and I am very glad that I married him. Here’s the rest of Marriage Song. We had it as a reading at our wedding - this is a photo of Pipi and Susie performing for us*
Love your neighbours.
The red berries on their trampoline
Their green wheelbarrow.
Love the man walking on
Water, the man up a
mast. Love the light moving
across the Island Princess.
Love your grandmother when she tells you
Her hair is three-quarters ‘café au lait’.
Try to love the world, even when you discover
there is no such thing as The Author
Love the world, praise
God, even, when your aerobics instructor
Try very hard to love
your mailman, even though her regularly
delivers you Benidicto Clemente’s mail.
Love the weta you find on the path,
injured by alteration.
Love the tired men, the burnt
house, the handlebars of light
on the ceiling.
Love the man on the bus who says
it all amounts to a fishing rod
or a lightbulb.
Love the world of the garden.
The keyhole of bright green grass
Where the stubborn palm
used to be,
bees so drunk on ginger flowers
that they think the hose water
is rain your hair tangled in
Love the way,
when you come inside,
insects find their way out
from the temporary rooms of
your clothes. – Jenny Bornholdt –
Happy Valentine's Day.
* For any readers from the rigging community we know that rigging from trees is WRONG we will never do it again. It was a long time ago and luckily all was well and no-one was hurt.