In my search for good news to lift my spirits in the face of the gloom and doom we’re fed daily in mainstream media, I didn’t have to look far to find that not only are big changes happening in our local communities where people are getting together and acting co-operatively to set up reading groups, community choirs, voluntary associations to support vulnerable people and the rest, but that many people are beginning to think differently.
Although it might sound a tad overdramatic to suggest that ‘human consciousness is evolving’ but many, many, writers believe that this is exactly what’s happening.
Many of us are beginning to see the world and our place in it differently. Perhaps most importantly, we are challenging the idea we are fed daily that the ‘good life’ – the ‘American dream’ – depends on excessive material consumption and that this takes priority over everything else. Do we really need to work long hours often giving up fun time with family and friends so that we can have new kitchen, wear the latest fashions and buy the latest gizmos?
Many people are changing the way they see their material possessions and this new approach is well-documented in New Materialism’s Living Manifesto which sets out six points:
Liking ‘stuff’ is okay, healthy even – we can learn to love and find pleasure in the material world
Wherever practical and possible develop lasting relationships with things by having and making nothing that is designed to last less than 10 years
Get to know things – before you acquire something, find out at least 3 things about it
Love stuff – mend, maintain and re-use things until it is no longer possible, then recycle them
Get active – only acquire something new if you are also learning a new, useful skill
Share – look at all your things, think about what your friends might need or could benefit from, and share at least one thing a week
How does New Materialism’s Living Manifesto play out in real life I wonder?
It didn’t take long for me to find out that …
In the early decades of the 21st Century saw a massive rise in sewing machines and haberdashery items and the BBC’s ‘Great British Sewing Bee’ became prime time viewing.
There are now 1,500 repair cafes worldwide where people get together to repair broken furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery or whatever needs mending. At a repair café you’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields.
The global Swishing movement took off in the early years of the 21st Century with a website giving advice on how to hold a swishing party where friends could get together to swap clothes they no longer want. A party holder put it this way:
‘Grab something from your own wardrobe – something that looks good and is in at least near-tip-top condition, but you don’t wear anymore – and take it along to a Swishing party. Then have a look through what everyone else has brought and choose something you like! It really is that simple.’
These are just a few examples of what people are doing to reduce their impact on the environment. Every new item which is produced uses up the Earth precious resources, including energy, and adds to the carbon emissions which are massively contributing to climate change. We live on a planet of finite resources and we have to reduce our consumption. Governments, continue on the ‘economic growth above all else’ path which suits the wealthy elite but an increasing number of people are finding a different way of living. And – I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating – it’s better!!
Vincent Van Gogh