Low-impact living: your gift to your planet

At this time in my life, I live alone in a small but comfortable space. I try to keep my life footprint as small as possible, understanding our disastrous impact on the planet and the dire future our descendants face as a result of humanity’s excesses. 

The water crisis in Cape Town is predicted for the whole country in the near future.  Acute awareness of this means the following is the norm for me:

  • two minute showers
  • only flushing the toilet when necessary
  • saving washing up to do all at once
  • only doing a laundry load once a week
  • everything unnecessary unplugged and all plugs not in use switched off
  • lights only switched on when needed
  • no heaters, nor aircon (though in winter an electric blanket is essential and I have been known to use it on the couch or under a rug on the floor when it’s icy)
  • reusing as much as possible
  • cleaning up, putting away, wiping and dusting as I go
  • only driving when it’s too far to walk, too heavy to carry or transporting a grandchild.

My children think I am weird, but all this gives me deep satisfaction and even a great sense of achievement.

The one area that has confounded me in my quest for low impact living of late is the necessity to eat a few times every day. In winter, I often cook up a big pot of a favorite soup or stew to eat over several days and freeze when it gets tedious.  Plant pots on windowsills offer a few herbs and vegetables but after a lifetime of providing daily meals for many, I now have little desire to cook.

Saving on grazing

On a lighter note, I have found that I can forage successfully from my daughter’s fridge. They do not always eat their leftovers nor keep a close watch on what is about to be past its use-by date. This can expediently give me several meals a week.

In the interests of health and diversity though, I have been wondering lately about the impacts of cooking for one, ordering in or eating out.  None of the sites I have found factor in the true costs of these options.  Most are sure that preparing meals at home is cheaper, but they do not include the drive to and from the shops, disposing of the packaging and other waste, the gas or electric energy required to cook a meal, the water to clean and wash up, as well as the time that could be spent on other things.

What I have started to do since I live within a short walk of shops is to buy only enough for a day or two at most. In this way, there is no waste and I am doing my bit in reducing the one-third of food produced globally that is wasted.

More research on this is obviously required and will be shared in future posts.  Meantime, I would be glad to hear from you.

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