THE JUGGLING ACT: Womble woman
THE JUGGLING ACT: Womble woman

I am becoming a Womble.

In fact I may already be one. For those unaccustomed to Wombledom: a definition. A womble is "a fictional pointy-nosed, furry creature that lives in burrows and helps the environment by recycling ... in useful and ingenious ways" (thank you Wikipedia).

My introduction to wombles came as a very small child. They starred in their own kiddy TV series in the 1970s and 80s.

For the record, I'm not sprouting fur in unusual places, nor have I taken to living in a hole in the backyard. But the whole womble-like waste-not want-not verve is alive and well in my household. Not that it has ever been dead. But over the past six years, it has been gaining momentum.

Old yoghurt tubs are given new life as paint pots or as containers to grow seedlings. My children's artwork serves as wrapping paper. The pictures on old Christmas cards are dutifully cut out and used as gift tags the following year. Cereal boxes are taken to kindy to be turned into robots, treasure chests and rocket-boosters.

My eco-mania really took hold in the yard during the drought. We had a water tank installed and used grey water from the washing machine in the garden. Then came compost bins and a vegie patch. And, we have worms. Well, a worm farm to be more precise.

Between the worms and the compost bins, all those fruit and veg scraps and garden clippings are now being returned to the soil in a decomposed and nutrient rich state. Worm poo truly is wonderful.

Around the same time, I also became serious about sorting for the recycling bin. I now know instinctively which items can be recycled and which can't, and I can be ferocious if someone (and he knows who he is) puts things in the wrong bin.

It has got to the stage where our recycling bin is the one that fills fastest. The main bin is often less than half full when the garbos come calling.

As a child, my family was very much of the conservation persuasion. We always had to turn lights off that weren't being used, and never had many of the electrical household appliances that my friends took for granted.

There was no clothes dryer, dishwasher or VCR machine. Though the reasoning for it was probably more economic, than eco-friendly.

Fast forward a couple of decades and I still don't own a clothes dryer or a dishwasher. A colleague recently exclaimed in exaggerated horror "oh I didn't know you were poor". The thing is, what you've never had, you never miss.

I love sunshine-smelling clothes and sheets. They always seem brighter and fresher than anything I've seen come out of a clothes dryer. And, while it's not to everyone's preference, I relish the roughness of line-dried towels.

As for stinky dishwashers, it takes as long to stack and unstack one as it does for me to wash a sink-full of dirty crockery.

While I'm probably not quite as water wise as I was, for the past couple of years I have been on a mission to become "greener" and reduce the carbon emissions created by food production, transportation, and manufacturing processes.

Our fruit, veg and eggs come straight from local producers . My daughter (thanks to three nieces and the girl next door) is the hand-me-down queen. We walk to school. Books (and DVDs) are borrowed from the library. Leftovers are re-made into new meals. Things we no longer need are sold, given away or repurposed.

I have joined the ranks of those who use vinegar and baking powder as household cleaners (though not exclusively). My vintage dress collection is growing. And, my inner-nanna is coming to the fore with a very crafty streak. I made an awesome patchwork quilt for the Sassy princess' bed (even if I do say so myself).

Right now, I have a serious case of solar panel envy. My neighbour just got one installed, but hubby has put the kybosh on one for us for the time-being.

To some, I know I will sound like a raging hippie. But has it ever crossed your mind whether we should blindly keep pursuing economic growth at all costs.... or whether economic sustainability is the road to follow into the future.

Scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki raises interesting questions in his recent book The Legacy. He believes with the population growing the way it is, we're on the brink of disaster if we don't urgently change our ways. His reasoning is compelling.

"Our (humanity's) great boast is the possession of intelligence, but what intelligent creature, knowing the critical role of air (water/ land) for all life on Earth, would then proceed to deliberately pour toxic materials into it? We are the air (water/ land), so whatever we do to it, we do to ourselves. (Suzuki, 2010, p.76)**

Food for thought indeed.


** reference

Suzuki, D (2010) The legacy: an elder's vision for our sustainable future, Vancouver: Greystone Books.

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