I met Satish Kumar at an Etsy event in Eindhoven, the Netherlands in autumn 2012. He was invited to give a speech that was fascinating – no – he was fascinating and his words inspired and were so good to hear. So, after the event I wanted to know more about him and bought his autobiography – No Destination. This book is easy to read and opens room for thoughts. It’s difficult to pick out the most important points for oneself, but I think for myself the following are the ones I mainly kept in mind:
1. Economy in line with nature – why do we always demand more and are not just happy with what we need? Isn’t nature something we should treat respectfully? But it’s hard if we cannot even respect our own species with its different cultures, religions and colors…let’s try it.
2. To see work as a gift to society. This sounds so beautiful and soft – my gift is my work – I care and I like to give what I like to do. A dream?
3. Create and make things by hand according to the BUD principle: Beautiful – Useful – Durable. Do we need more? Hmm, maybe a “S” – for Sustainable: BUDS.
This book from Satish Kumar does not mention new thoughts, but it nicely shows and combines some statements about life that I happily will use as guidelines.
In the course of the film festival ALIMENTERRE in Brussels I had the chance to watch the movie Bitter Seeds last Saturday. It’s about the life of Indian farmers cultivating cotton – meaning BT cotton by Monsanto. Even though I was aware of the farmers’ situation in India the movie was an eye opener and reminded me once again why I should take care in choosing my clothes and fabrics: bio doesn’t just feel good; it preserves nature and lives. Thinking further – it’s not about you or me – it’s more about THEM and US – the earth.
So, what is BT cotton? First of all it’s genetically modified cotton, meaning it is not organic cotton. What is behind BT cotton?
- It’s very drought sensitive and water intensive. This means it needs water at certain periods of the crop growing. This means that it is very difficult to handle if farmers don’t have any soil irrigation system and depend on rain only.
- It developed resistance against certain pesticides, i.e. available pesticides cannot control all pests anymore. Consequence is that plants cannot be saved once infected by a certain pest.
- It’s sensible to new pests. It is apparently resistant against Bollworms, but pesticides for new pests are needed. Consequence is that farmer needs to spend money on toxic pesticides.
- It’s cultivated as monoculture. Consequence is that the soil gets unfertile in the long run and farmers need to spend money on synthetic fertilizers.
- Seeds for BT cotton don’t regenerate. Consequence is that farmers need to spend money on seeds every year again.
Just some advantages of organic cotton: less drought sensitive, meaning no or only little irrigation necessary; no toxic pesticides and fertilizers, crop rotation instead of monoculture, i.e. soil fertility can be maintained.
Besides the cultivation of BT cotton another issue in the movie seems to be missing micro credits. But, please just watch the movie. I don’t want to describe here the complete problems. I rather would like to point out that it’s the consumer – us – who influences the market. Maybe not single individuals at the beginning – but the more people buy consciously the more they influence the product offer. Let’s look more for bio cotton instead of conventional cotton. Don’t be just a consumer – be a creator. And – we are already going in the right direction: When you think that at least 90% of the cultivated cotton fields in India are genetically modified then the following article is a big step. Please read “Mahyco banned from selling Bt cotton seeds in Maharashtra”, an article from 10 August 2012.
Walking in your street – every day for years maybe… have you ever thought that this street has its charm because of the cobble stones or that your neighbor’s flowers smell just wonderful or that it’s nice to have such a broad sidewalk or the little ants crossing your path or a bird-view gives you inspiration for a new pattern? Whatever – to find beauty in everything and see things from a different perspective can make your day, can inspire you, can put you in balance and can make life more enjoyable.
“We are tempted to believe that certain achievements and possessions will guarantee us an enduring satisfaction.” (Rousseau from Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton) Yes – new possessions may give us satisfaction – maybe for the first moments, but then we have enough – the new dress is beautiful and it is just lovable – but once it is purchased the desire is cleared. I guess with gadgets it is similar… You don’t NEED these products you just desire them – and why? Maybe because you get nice compliments, maybe because you want to be trendy or sexy…maybe… you just want to demonstrate who you want to be… or maybe you just like it for whatever reason. “Material possessions are used as symbols of what we are, what we have been, and what we are attempting to become.” (Emotionally durable design, Jonathan Chapman). And “…consumers acquire meanings, not objects, objects simply provide a way of perceiving the meaning. “(Emotionally durable design, Jonathan Chapman). If you find yourself once again in this situation that you need this cool T-shirt or these trendy red shoes… try John Lancaster’s suggestion: try to imagine – step by step – that you possess the product and how you would use/consume it… If you need more explanation, have a look on THE SCHOOL OF LIFE.
I have not tried it so far – let me know your results if you tried it.
I recently watched the wonderful movie “Freedom ahead” – by the way a MUST if you are interested in permaculture and thought-provoking impulses. I would like to share some statements that amongst others caught my attention:
“Food is more security than money”: There are different societies and for some of them this statement applies to 100%. But I think that even for the Western societies it is important to realize that money is not everything. Currently it is hard to imagine that there is no food, but money… though this is not really unrealistic … this sentence puts the importance of money in context – and maybe helps to realize that money has a very relative value. Don’t overvalue it and don’t let it rule your life.
“Forget about fear and freedom is yours” – what a nice sentence by Aviram Rozine, co-founder of Sadhana Forest – but everybody who tried can most probably confirm how difficult it is to break out of society rules and how true if you manage sometimes somehow.
“…if you follow fashion you never catch up with it – because you follow it.” I like this sentence by Jon Jandai co-founder of Pun Pun. Maybe he means that we are running after something that we cannot catch anyway – by following the fashion we try to reach happiness? There are various possibilities of interpretation. I would like to apply this sentence the following: following is not good enough – either you are the trendsetter and can influence it (in a positive way such as offering bio fashion) or you chose a different approach such as offering fashion-independent cloths. By choosing the second approach I ask you do we need to be dressed in the latest color and style matching the mass trend? Isn’t it much more important to have a product that you will like and that lasts for several years and that has a meaning such as is hand-made out of bio material? This is much more sustainable, unique, healthier, more comfortable, and is even a more value-for-money approach.