Just before my son was born in the late eighties, I bought a book written in the 1960’s about saving the planet. It talked about the growing population worldwide, our reliance on coal and gas and our growing use of the car and building roads that cut through the British countryside. The destruction of hedgerows, farmland and the pollution of rivers etc. The book went on to say we needed to rethink our attitude to our precious planet.
In the early 1960’s, in the house where I was born and spent the first six years of my life, we never had an indoor toilet or bathroom. A tin bath before a fire on a Saturday evening was where my mother bathed my brother, two sisters and I. She did her washing in the backyard washhouse which was shared by the other houses in the terraced-row where we lived. When I was six years old, we moved to the mill in Chelmsford. At last we had an indoor bathroom and toilet but no central heating. When we had a bath in the winter months, mum put an electric heater in the bathroom to warm it enough to get undressed quickly to have a bath and get dress again. The only fire in the house was in the living room. We had no heating in our bedrooms, and the window would frost up on the insides. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties, when I was able to come home to a warm house as my ex-husband had installed storage heating in our first home together.
So where am I going with this post? As you must know the world leaders have gathered to save the planet. Personally, I feel they’re cutting it a bit fine deciding to do something now. I expect they feel its better late than never. Myself, I feel attitudes need to change across the western world. Our views on possessing material goods that have no real function to our lives must stop. My husband is a natural born hoarder, where I’m not. I hate being surrounded by unnecessary stuff. I hate having to search among boxes of clutter to find what I need. If something doesn’t serve a purpose then I want to get rid of it. I love order, not clutter. I possess to many clothes. Apart from underwear, most of my clothes have been bought second-hand. My grandmother got me hooked on charity shops in the early 70’s and this has help me to help others while keeping a roof over my son’s head and food on the table while being able to dress well.
After my first marriage broke down, I went back to working full-time. It was a struggle paying the household bills, mortgage, a loan on a car and child-minding. The house needed new windows, doors, fascias, guttering, a new boiler and work on the roof none of which I could afford to do. I had to tape the glass into the window frame in my son’s bedroom. My son and I lived a hand to mouth each month and I topped up our food by growing a few vegetables in the garden. As long as I wasn’t a penny overdrawn each month I was happy. I made sure my son understood why I couldn’t just buy what he wanted when he wanted it. Birthdays and Christmases were the times for receiving gifts and money not all year round.
Once the car was paid for and my son no longer needed a child-minder my second husband and I were now able to take out a loan to pay for the work needed on the house. We made sure the house was well-insulated and the windows and doors were the best on the market. We had invested in a new eco-friendly washing machine, cooker and boiler but now we have realised time has moved on. What we thought would see us through to the end of our lives will need replacing. Our green life-style isn’t green enough and we need to spend a large sum of money to replace the boiler, car and to buy solar-panels.
I’ve told my husband we need to start playing the lottery as my writing isn’t going to pay for the changes our government are wanting us to invest into our homes to meet their green targets they are setting at COP26. It makes me sad to think my simple way of living isn’t green enough to save the planet.