Divorce the Supermarket

I believe for a Happy, simply society and planet the less (or none) we buy from a big supermarket the better…

80c applesThis is a thought that has been kicking around in my head for a while and then a great blog (not mine) finally got me to put them on the page. Have a look at the blog I am referring to here from 1 Million Women:  http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/2014/01/14/how-to-break-up-with-the-supermarket/

I have been thinking about this a lot while in Africa, especially while I was in Kampala, Uganda and saw huge supermarkets popping up all over town to the reverence and joy of the locals feeling like they were seeing ‘development’.

My point is to not to stop this development as that is not really my role to decide what is best for the people of Uganda and I know a giant supermarket represents easier and more variety in their shopping and hence diet and lives. BUT I am more concerned about the huge impacts big supermarkets have on society.

100_1093All of the giant supermarkets growing in Africa are from Kenya, South Africa, USA, UK, etc and even the African owned companies will not be investing back into the local economy like a small permanent resident retailer will.

In summary my concerns for big supermarkets and benefits of local stores:

  Big Supermarket Local Store
Profits Generally go to a fat man in another community/country Generally goes back into the local community
Community Deterioration of community connectedness – the person serving you at the supermarket is likely to not be from your local community A local store is often where they also live and you often know them or they know you from a young age or for many years
Social interaction You are less likely to have a chat with a random checkout person who is often under pressure with a line up behind You are far more likely to have an extended chat with your local store on the local politics, weather, etc
Jobs- less jobs Less livelihoods and economic sustainability for people in the community as you need less people per customer in a supermarket More impact on others and their community when the jobs are directly supporting a family
Jobs – less money Supermarket jobs are usually poorly paid and often for younger folks More money reaches the owner, their family and their community
Energy and environment Big supermarkets use far more energy and less locally sourced products A local store will sell less variety but more seasonal and local
Source of products Supermarkets will usually buy from the cheapest internationally. Less middlemen and less local Local stores will usually buy from the cheapest locally. More middlemen and more local
Enjoyment The shopping experience at a supermarket is far more inhuman, individual and sterile A local store you are interacting with people, family, community and your environment so much more
Local stores in amongst the community in Maputo, Mozambique

Local stores in amongst the community in Maputo, Mozambique

Basically I believe big supermarkets are a cancer on society and this is proven in a country like Australia where big supermarkets replaced speciality stores. These stores were often owned by local families and injecting the money back into their, and your, local community through their own pockets.

The chance of this model of the local community circle being complete is virtually impossible with big supermarkets as the money that goes to the grand executive of the big supermarket is very unlikely to be spending their money in your local community…

I also believe there has been a degradation of society where supermarkets now reign. There is less contact, communication and care in the community compared with where smaller local retailers are still the norm.

It is very difficult and not really my place to stand in the way of big supermarkets in a place like Uganda, other than sharing with them the traps a country like Australia has experienced with advent of supermarkets becoming common place.

On a positive note what I (and maybe others) can do is support local stores and divorce ourselves from the supermarket! Again refer to the 1 Million Women blog to see some tips on how to do this! http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/2014/01/14/how-to-break-up-with-the-supermarket/

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Global Citizen

Hey Folks – I’ve been busy in the past month doing my education, advocacy and campaigning work with the Global Poverty Project and The End of Polio campaign.

While I am away from my beautiful Happy, simply home (sobbing…) I still live by it’s ethos, concept and ideology no matter where I am. As I travel around I can’t always be in a home that uses renewable energy or in a city that allows me to ride a bike everywhere. Consciously I make a priority to think of the impact of my actions. I then act upon on them, live them, enjoy them and refine them as much as possible.

A recent example of this is using a smaller hand towel after showering (military style shower of course – get wet, soap up, then rinse). A small towel is requires less to wash, dry and pack!

I believe all the small actions make a difference and that they can and should be fun, habitual and as simple as possible…

So in the past month I have presented to over 2000 people on the concept of Global Citizens so here is a little list I often share on what I believe being an active and caring Global Citizen is all about:

I THINK A GOOD GLOBAL CITIZEN DOES THIS…

Has a strong sense of…

  • Social justice
    • Youth development
    • Community development
    • Gender equality
    • Human rights
    • Leadership
  • Environmental justice
    • Sustainability
    • Transport (walking, cycling & other non-polluting forms)
    • Waste management
    • Water consumption
    • Electricity use
  • Trade justice
    • Consumption and consumerism
    • Fair-trade / Ethical purchases
    • Local production
    • Working conditions of the people making those goods for you
  • Volunteers
  • Know about the Millennium Development Goals and what they try to accomplish
  • Is aware of the positive qualities of life in developing countries
  • Gives aid, charity and donations to suitable projects and causes that they have researched and taken ownership of so it is inclusive not a guilt off-set
  • Thinks about their consumption – 
  • and the unnecessary over-consumerism of developed nations today
  • Have an awareness of Indigenous culture, perspectives and way of life and also has empathy and compassion for the problems they face in their society
  • Actively advocates for positive change in our world → locally and globally
  • Thinks about some or all of these things from time to time
  • Engages in discussion about these things
  • Acts upon their thoughts and discussions for the betterment of people and places anywhere / everywhere

A nice phrase I like to keep in my head is a lyric from Spearhead’s Michael Franti: ‘are you a part of the pollution or are you a part of the pollution?’

Being a thoughtful, caring and active Global Citizen is great fun and never ending…

Happy, simply for me is a great part of me living my global citizenship.

You might like to see the Global Poverty Project’s Global Citizen website for more info on the topics, issues and actions people can take to see an end to extreme poverty (no it is not a fundraiser – just an awareness and action bank if you want be involved) – http://globalcitizen.org/

Build Day 3 – using tools and feels like building!

Another build day, another day of lessons for all!

It has been an incredible experience already and we still haven’t really started on the walls or anything resembling a home yet.

lining it all upI have an incredible respect for builders, designers, architects, people who build their own home and anyone in the whole industry. I love being out of my depth but this has really been a sink and slow swim. Building is not just the putting of wood together there are so many considerations, calculations and cautions that I would never had guessed. Luckily I’m not building and our building teachers have been so good in sharing their knowledge with all involved.

It is also a sector not without concerns. Because it is such an undertaking to build a house it is quite easy to cut corners and be unsustainable – even for a sustainable dwelling. However a sustainable house is not just a major way we can be more sustainable, I remember a year ago when I was sharing my idea with the knowledge and experience of Tim from SHAC – Sustainable HAbitat Challenge http://www.shac.org.nz/ he told me our energy consumption on the world usually happens in thirds – living (home), transport and stuff. The stuff side I am pretty clued in to and have been for a long time believing that consumerism is a significant cancer on society and environment. Through cycling I have also been pretty aware of transportation and good practices (although I fly around the world most years…). The new area I loving to learn about is living and the home.

There is a lot we can do beyond changing our lightbulbs and this is where the building component of Happy, simply really kicks-arse in sustainability, self-sufficiency and simplicity. It is starting to feature sound practices like reuse, recycle and refit as much as possible but it is really in the small space, renewable energy, water capture, compostable toilet and moving significantly away from the ‘normal’ way to the ‘simpler’ way, often more difficult because it is not the normal way!

View from the left the side where the sleeping loft will be!

View from the left the side where the sleeping loft will be!

Certainly I have learnt that building a simple small dwelling is definitely not simple but it is absolutely happy. The atmosphere amongst everyone getting involved is so healthy and I couldn’t imagine a better way to raise a house with a community.

sharing ideas and learningMore about community, affinity, connectedness and collaboration another day…

I feel tomorrow is going to be a jump ahead in looks as we aim to put on its undies (floor and insulation) and start to build up!

Happy, simply.

 

d’Arcy.

Yes that does look like Javi is drilling into Patricks bum but you have to bear weight to get maximum effect of your screw in the right place and to hold tight!

Yes that does look like Javi is drilling into Patricks bum but you have to bear weight to get maximum effect of your screw in the right place and to hold tight!

Consumerism Cancer

While I go about my blogging in Pakistan –http://lunny06.wordpress.com I can refer you to my favourite simplistic blog site with very thorough insights, research and perspectives from a great academic, Samuel Alexander, and also the people he attracts.

The latest post put up on the Simplicity Institute site or Voluntary Simplicity looks at Simplicity, Sustainability and Human Rights – http://simplicitycollective.com/simplicity-sustainability-and-human-rights

But to me this really takes me to what I believe is one of the biggest cancers on humans, that seems to have grown to epic levels in some places, and that is consumerism.

If someone was to ask me at a beauty contest what I would want to wish for in the world, it would be for humans to be rid of consumerism. If we had a world were just enough is plenty and we can fulfil our needs, not our wants, I think most other things would come back to equilibrium with most importantly – happiness and satisfaction.

I usually don’t go around pointing the finger at others and I am not here to lecture people on material wealth and over consumption, instead it is in my very privileged life that I have seen many cultures where consumerism isn’t at the forefront of their minds and to me they live in the most purest forms I life I can imagine – people, places, community, nature and happiness. When there isn’t enough that is a problem but when there is too much that is also a problem for me.

Rich or poor?

All I can do is live my life in the way I choose but I feel like having been amongst a great number of cultures and communities the best ones for me in my experience are those who are rich with family, community, nature and time. Hence the idea of the Happy Simply lifestyle model and education project!

Rich – to me

Anyway, keep an eye on Samuel’s website and you might also like to keep on these others that are favourites of mine for keeping a Happy Simply mindset: