It’s crazy. We’re halfway through September, nearly to the official start of fall, and I still can stand only the thinnest sheet I own, no blanket, and the fan on during the night. It was 23 Celsius (73.4 Fahrenheit) here in Carcassonne when I got up this morning. That’s not unusual in August, but now? Our Septembers have an average low temp of 14.2 C (57.6 F) and an average high of 24 C (75.2 F)–perfection. But lately? It’s been in the 30s, which actually is higher than the average high temperature in summer. It’s worse to the west of us–Toulouse is setting records.
Obviously, it’s far worse much farther west. On many levels. But we won’t talk about that.
I’m trying to reduce my carbon footprint. To reduce my consumption in general. Eliminate waste. Not buy stuff. Use up what I have. Make things last. Downsize. I don’t buy the claims that individual choices don’t make a difference. The sum of many individuals–of billions of us–absolutely adds up. It’s how we got into this mess.
One of the side-effects of Covid-19 is that I’ve lost my taste for things–not literally my taste but that hunger for novelty, for change. That hankering for something shiny and new that will boost the spirit. It’s like long ago, when I was pregnant, and the smell of foods that I ordinarily loved suddenly made me nauseous. I’m nauseous these days from consumerism.
I don’t think that if this attitude spreads it will be the end of the economy. It might be the end of a certain style of the economy. One where aisles of stores are full of plastic baubles for “decorating” or for throwing away after use. One where low price is paramount over quality. Where perfectly good stuff is jettisoned in favor of something “fresh” and “modern.” I avoid these aisles when I go to the store for some necessity like toilet paper that isn’t sold at the market. I’m afraid I’ll puke if I see another faux-antique sign that says “kitchen” to hang in one’s kitchen, in case people are confused about what that room might be used for.
When I pass la Cité of Carcassonne, whose walls date back 2000 years, it’s clear that the old doesn’t necessarily have to be thrown out in favor of the new, especially when well-constructed. Even though the walls stay, they need fixing up, and what’s within the walls needs modernizing, changing. Nobody there lives like in the 13th century. Being careful about consumption doesn’t require going backward, unless you plan to get up in arms about faux-antique “kitchen” signs. Even then, if that’s what brings you joy, fine, but if it’s just to keep up with influencers on Instagram, then maybe it’s time to think about where your life is going. Especially since with Covid-19, nobody is coming over any more. I know it’s a business model that’s important to many people’s livelihoods, but I just can’t bear to be told any more that I “need” certain things for my home, my wardrobe, my life, especially when all these things are the exact opposite of “need.”
I heard a podcast recently about “Why Nobody Feels Rich.” In a study, people were asked what would make them happy, and they immediately listed things like a new car. But as they were given time to sit with the question and think, they started listing things like “more time with my family.” That’s something that would enhance the quality of life without creating emissions. It’s so hard to get, too, as if it’s a sign of weakness or lack of character.
What would enhance my life? Having an arm that straightens and that I can raise above my head. Not available in any store nor online. But I’m working on it. The jogging path pictured has some stations with exercise “equipment”–various bars, an incline board for sit-ups, etc. My physical therapist told me to climb–“go rock climbing!”–so I get up on the high bars and then hang there, trying to stretch my arm back into normalcy. I am sure the people passing wonder what on earth I am up to, because I’m panting (from pain), but not seeming to be doing anything strenuous.
What about you? Are you just “over” some things because of our coronavirus-ruled lives? Are you worried about climate change? How far would you go to save the planet? I am curious to hear from you, outside my little Covid bubble.