Green Wizardries: Less


I read a lot of the works of the American philosopher and essayist, John Michael Greer.  One of his essays was on LESS which is an acronym for less energy, stuff and stimulation.  Mr. Greer proposes this as a way forward into the resource constrained world we all live in.  

For example, we are having a lot less rain in this province and I was chatting with a friend who has moved to Alberta some months ago and she told me it had only snowed three tiny skiffs of snow since she has been in Edmonton.  I asked if it had rained and it has not.  

The Albertans, and we happy few in B.C.,  look to be going into a year of severe drought.  We will be hit with higher electricity prices because there will simply be less electricity to go around.  To meet demand, B.C. will have to import electricity from away and that will be more expensive than generating our own.  

We all use a lot more power and water when the electricity is on than we do in a power outage.  This demonstrates that we can get by using less water, which we will probably need to conserve, and less power that many of us will not be able to pay for.  Conservation of power and water will be the best option for many people.  

This need not make life unpleasant.  Using LESS is something I have been practising for years now and I find myself happier and less harassed than when I had too much going on.  Sitting in a quiet house, reading a book by candlelight is very soothing and candlelight does not trick the brain into thinking it is daytime; electric light does and it makes it hard for many people to sleep if they are exposed to electric light in the evening.  

We have some nights where we use no electricity at all and we call these Dark Nights.  Such a night is very pleasant and soothing and our friends who come to visit from the city often ask for a Dark Night.  This can mean board games by candlelight, singing, chatting, having a sauna all without using electricity.  Candle lanterns are very handy for such nights and for power outages of course.  It is fun to go for a walk in the dark winter nights, illuminating our way with simple candle lanterns.  

If we never had electricity again, I would miss it but we can all probably think of simple ways to use less power.  

Something else I have been experimenting with is reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals I use to control my asthma.  I have been able to reduce the amount of steroid drugs I take by about 80%.  My reasons for wanting to do this include saving money, not trusting the pharmaceutical industry at all and because I suspect the steroids of damaging my adrenal function.  

To do this, I had to change my behaviour and really not eat anything I am allergic to such as cheese which is a favourite food.  People tend to crave the foods they are allergic to.  I have to be more careful about going into houses where people keep pets.  I even have to avoid going to parties because most of the people I like to socialize with keep pets in their homes and I have an allergic reaction to the pet hair on their clothes.  So, there are trade offs with each change. 

Less stimulation is also something I am working on.  I used to follow the news and political analysis until the tragic occurrences in Israel commenced last fall.  I have lived in Israel several times and used to work on a Kibbutz and a couple of different Moshavs.  

I like the Israelis and I like the Palestinians.  It breaks my heart to see the carnage in Israel and Gaza.  I can do nothing but pray for peace to break out.  So, now while I am working inside the house doing something boring like washing the dishes, I listen to Gardeners’ World.  This BBC TV production had its first season in 1968.  2024 will be its 55 season so it has great staying power.  I find episodes on Youtube.  You can watch a whole episode without anything bad happening and the camera work is stunning.  

The less stuff  in LESS is the easiest to deal with.  I look at the thing I meant to mend and if it has been on my desk for more than three months, I am clearly not going to mend it so out it goes.  I am forever keeping things because they will be useful but really, they just take up room in drawers so anything I find I have not been using also gets chucked out.  The best way to achieve less stuff is to not buy more of it.  The less resources we use, the less harm we do to the Living Earth.