A Fairy With Green Wings

16 Mar

I think that to live a life as people knew before Industrial Revolution is pretty much impossible now. We are so used to convenience of modernity that it would be really hard to go back to wells, horse carts and corrugated washboards. But I also think that rather sooner than later, we should all start living as closely as possible to simplicity if we want the future to be at all . We are slowly getting there, first with recycling, then shopping bags (hallelujah!!!), and now a scare of horsemeat. These and other small things mean that there is a chance for the future generations to walk with bare feet on green grass and not to live in tall buildings hidden in grey smog as sci-fi films portray. Maybe I shouldn’t care; I would be dead for decades before that happens, but I do. I love this planet and my bit helps to shift the future in a direction I want it to.

My biggest experiment in this sense was a year living in a campervan, travelling around Australia. What a trip! My dreams come true, how lucky I am! To be able to afford it, my partner and me were saving like mad. It meant that the heating wasn’t on until my finger nails turned blue even with all warm clothes and the blanket on, not buying take-away and chocolate (or only occasionally) and so on, because we didn’t have any prospect of working there and we wanted to see so much. We continued living cheaply there. This inevitably led to sustainability –  proving that it is possible!

australia

In the space of a year, I bought only three brand new pieces of clothing, in the sale of course. The rest of my acquired clothes came either from charity shops or as a present. It was the same with books, I bought six second hand books but I managed to read twenty-seven, thanks to brilliant book-exchange system around the country. I guess a lot of travellers want to read. I found pearls on the shelves such as Amy Tan, Arthur Miller, Alice Munro or Margaret Atwood!

We were saving the electricity too, because we didn’t have any. As soon as the dark hit, we may have watched a film and then go straight to bed. We were able to sleep for ten hours, from nine to seven, just because it was dark. We used torches and candles, charging the laptop when possible – at libraries or campsites.

Food-wise, we only bought what we could eat; no way we would throw the food out! We had a cool box but saving on ice, we would freeze two-litre bottles at the campsites and have cheese only as long as the ice lasted. Cooking was simple and fast. We would utilise the heat of the food itself, which meant that some time before it was actually cooked, we would turn our portable stove off (gas bottles; what a precious commodity) and whatever was cooking, would cook. Otherwise we ate salads, light and filling meals in such heat. I found out that I can pretty much live without chocolate, ice cream and pizza.

The hardest part for me was limited water. We loved being in the Outback, far away from civilization, which meant bringing our own supplies. We would have fifty litres of water, which would last us up to five days. It is very little, if you consider that in a five-minute shower you can use more than thirty-five litres of water. I am always thirsty and we like our cups of tea. Water was therefore used only for cooking and washing up. It did disappear fast though and we still didn’t have a shower! I learnt that I can last four days without one before I start hating myself. A big thanks to a person who invented wet wipes but nothing beats running water down my spine.

Now we are back, again enjoying a privilege of constant water, electricity and gas. It does make one lazy – there is no need to think about it. I already started cooking and washing dishes in my pre-trip way and now I’m making a conscious effort not to. The immediate availability at the tap/switch/hob is a luxury we don’t consider. There is a great possibility that it won’t be for long, though. Before that happens, try to follow simple rules, save the future and meanwhile save yourself a bit of money to be able to afford a year-long holiday. I know that temptation of comfort can be stronger that the will to live sustainably, we are only humans, after all, but we can have a lot of fun exploring our own boundaries. I trust myself that I am stronger than I actually think I am.

About the writer: Zdena comes from Slovakia but has made Wales her second home, that is when she is not travelling, which she can’t live without. Two important things in her life are books and Scrabble and she also loves world cinema.

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