First World Problems

#firstworldproblems we say jovially, since there is no other way to cope with the reality of the truth.  To consider the #firstworldproblem we have just identified in any detail is to open a huge can of worms, we disappear down the r*bbit hole.

I do the dishes, look at the washing up liquid and I know I am contributing to a lasting scourge on the earth that will outlive me, the bottle is plastic and the contents “Harmful to aquatic life”. 

I am bombarded by advertising trying to entice me to “buy this” “aspire to this” “be like them” “the perfect lifestyle”, I think I am ignoring it, yet I can name more company logos than I can plants in my garden.  

It is near impossible to buy food which does not come in plastic packaging, hasn’t been grown without chemicals and hasn’t had cancer causing preservatives added.   I pick up “food” in the supermarket, read the ingredients label and see more chemicals listed than foodstuffs, I put it back.  Palm oil is hidden in so many products under so many different names that I cannot avoid it.  Every time I eat I am poisoning myself, I have little choice.   And we wonder why our children suffer mental health problems.

And I am one of the lucky ones, I live on an island where organic veg is easy to find, our diary cows enjoy range of the fields are well tended too, milk doesn’t come much fresher.  We can eat fish, crab and lobster on the same day it was caught.  But all of this comes at a price to the consumer. 

A price I can fully understand, I have seen and worked in the places our food comes from.  I can’t afford to buy the high quality foods all the time, but when I can I try to.  Again I am one of the lucky ones, my partner grows veg for us in the garden, I have friends and family with allotments, from whom I have had the joy of the finest tasting cabbage, peas and cauliflower.  All plastic free, all local and all with a flavour that gets lost in the supermarket.  But I still have to use the supermarkets, whose economies of scale keep us stuck in the trap.  And I am one of the lucky ones.

#firstworldproblems we say.  Take the plunge down the r*bbit hole I say.  If we make a one degree alteration to our course, and then another degree we can steer ourselves slowly and surely toward a new destination.  Right now I’m not too sure where I’m going to start, but I am going to start, that is the helm being turned toward that new destination.




The boat and everything on it is all we have, it is finite.

When you set off to cross an ocean, that moment where you cast the lines off and point the bow out to sea is the moment where the boat becomes your world and every resource on board is finite.  Food, water, fuel, sails, power, toilet roll, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, teabags, batteries, clothes pegs, fish hooks, lures, fishing line, everything is finite.

Yes, we have provisioned for the expected duration of the trip and then some and in doing this we have also cast our fate to the wind.  A change in weather pattern can easily add days to a voyage, unexpected gear failure, loss of mast, sails or engine could add weeks to a trip.  Everything is finite.

The sails are up and the last sight of land is a speck on the horizon, we are on our own now, there is no nipping back to the shop for the forgotten loaf or pint of milk.  We have what we have, so we will look after what we have, we will waste as little as possible.

This reality brings a change of mindset.  Every time I brush my teeth I use less toothpaste than I would ordinarily.  I turn the tap on only twice to rinse my brush.   I use one teabag to make at least two if not three brews.  I have half a spoon of honey in my tea instead of a generous Winnie the Pooh ration.  I use a spot of washing up liquid on a sponge and do the dishes with a minimal amount of water in the sink.  I eat a handful of the small packet of Maltesers and put them away.  I do the same the next day. 

Meals are cooked according to what fruit and veg is ripening the most quickly.   The weather decides our navigation strategy, that strategy dictates how much diesel we can use for either power or propulsion.  And thus, in turn, our meal plans, food and drink rations all hinge on the weather.  Everything is finite.

I realise how simple it is, to use less, to have less, to conserve.  It is a change in mindset, it begins with a nagging knowledge that everything around you is finite.