A new commitment

Posted October 19th, 2007 by Penny Wise

Teehee! It's 11.00 in the morning and I have just got some very funny looks from the neighbours as I waddled out to get the mail in my fleecy penguin pyjamas! It's all for a good cause though, in fact I PAID to wear my pyjamas all day. The boys' school is holding a Pyjama Day today to raise money for Starship Children's Hospital. It was so funny watching the kids creep furtively into school, looking this way and that, making sure they weren't the ONLY ones wearing their PJ's. I have to admit, as we bundled into the car it did feel as though we had forgotten something this morning. I'm so tempted to wear my pyjamas to town - I can just imagine Mr Patel's face! He already thinks I'm bonkers as it is. The only thing stopping me is that I don't have any other legitimate reason to go and you know me, I can't waste petrol.

This morning also marked the end of a childhood era for poor Liam. I had to tell him the truth about Santa. WAAAAAAHHHHH! I didn't want to do it - I so didn't want to do it. It was all I could do not to turn into a blubbering wreck as I looked at his serious little face but I had no choice. He kept asking me if Santa was real as the kids in his class were saying he wasn't; their mums and dads had told them. To be honest I was amazed we had managed to get this far without having to spill the beans but in the end I couldn't lie to him - especially as he said the other kids in the class were laughing and calling him a baby for still believing in Santa. So I told him the truth, that hundreds of years Santa, or St Nicholas really HAD been real and was a lovely kind man who did indeed give gifts to children but he is long gone so parents continue the tradition to keep the magic of Christmas alive. I promised him that Christmas wouldn't be any less special - the only thing I made him promise in return is not to spoil the magic for Ali or any other children who still believe, like those thoughtless kids in his class. Technically I suppose I could have used this opportunity to make a great saving - one less Christmas stocking to buy for! However, I don't think the boys' grandma would let me - after all, the real Santa was exposed to me by a nasty little girl when I was only four but my lovely mum still made sure I had a stocking every year until I left home!

While away at the beach last week I finally got around to watching 'An Inconvenient Truth'. What an amazing man Al Gore is - but how heartbreaking that it has taken him almost 50 years to be able to get his global warming message out to the world. What a difference he could have made as President. The only thing is, I'm very tempted now to write to him and ask him to make a sequel. Did anyone else who watched it notice that nowhere in the documentary did he say what we were supposed to do about it? I found it really reassuring that he said that by changing our stance on global warming we can heal the planet but at the same time I was thinking 'Oy, Al! Tell us what we have to do then!' Honestly, if it wasn't for all the eco-friendly tips I had already learned after three years as a Simple Savings member, I would still be largely in the dark. Thankfully I know how to save water, I know how to save power, I know how to save fuel, I know how to save on resources. That's why I'm so stingy with my petrol, and I must admit I feel far more comfortable with my debilitating fear of flying now I know that it's really bad for the planet to fly anyway. Instead of having to own up to being a big girl's blouse, I can now proudly say that my 'no-flying stance' is a necessity in order to save the environment!

I do have a real bee in my bonnet about food miles though. It's a bit of a nightmare trying to explain food miles to the kids. As far as they're concerned, their tinned peaches come from Mr Patel's, not 90,000km away. It's really disheartening to see how much cheaper many imported products are in shops compared to ones from your own country too. I mean, here I am trying to save money and do the right thing by the planet too and it almost feels like to achieve one I have to sacrifice the other. Grr, it annoys me! So once again I have come to the conclusion that the best way to achieve both is to keep growing as much of our own food as possible. Luckily we are well on the way. I was so excited to see baby plums and peaches forming on our fruit trees yesterday! It's taken two years from memory, since Ali and I first bought our bare-rooted bargains home but they're coming up trumps now. The orchard looks just beautiful at the moment. All green and full of blossom. Unfortunately one of our chooks died while we were away. I never did work out what was wrong with the poor girl and I tried all sorts of things but to no avail.

Back to the subject at hand, it's not just food miles that I want to save - it's everything miles. I already loathe buying petrol but am going to set myself an ongoing fuel challenge to see how little I can fill up my car. Clothing is another one - a huge benefit of op shops that I had never even really considered is that they're eco friendly! Just the other day I was wearing a new blouse for the first time, which I had bought from an op shop several months ago. Everywhere I went I received comments about that blouse - how pretty it was and where did I get it? I proudly said it was from a recycled clothing store and one person said 'Good on you!' The others all frowned and almost snapped at me 'You're not supposed to tell people that!' Honestly, well they liked it before well enough until they knew where it had come from. So from now on, do you know what? I'm going by ALL my clothes from op shops. I can always find much nicer and better fitting clothing in recycled stores anyway and I'll be saving the environment while I save a bundle at the same time!

I could still do a lot better at saving power though and so could the rest of our family. I think I'm going to have to sit us all down and come up with an incentive for a power saving challenge. Nothing annoys me more than finding the TV blaring when the kids have abandoned watching it long ago. I think they're starting to get the message though - even on the little things like not using a new glass or plate for everything they eat or drink. 'Planet mother, planet!' Liam wags his finger at me laughing, but at least it's sinking in, that making more washing is wasting valuable water and electricity. Makes less work for everyone cleaning up too! If I was Al Gore I would wage an international campaign against tumble dryers, blooming horrible things. I decided to make a little eco-challenge last week when at the beach. There was a dryer at the beach house and a washing line outside. I had three loads of linen and towels I needed to get washed and dried before we left so I put the first load in the dryer. After one cycle it was still too wet. After two cycles it was still wet. At this point I put the other two loads of washing outside to dry in the breeze. After the third cycle, the first load in the dryer was still damp, but the washing on the line was bone dry. In addition, after so long going round and round, the air in the laundry room was damp and stifling and all the washing came out of the dryer looking like it had been scrunched up at the bottom of Ali's schoolbag for a week. In comparison the washing dried outside needed no ironing - another energy saver! I've decided - the rest of the family is in for a shock. I'm going to add my own personal sequel to 'An Inconvenient Truth' and I've called it 'A New Commitment'. I'm going to soak up every eco-friendly Vault tip I can get and double our savings!

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