I grew up in an age before ecology, an age where everyone consumed and dumped without thinking of tomorrow.
We were encouraged to do so. Scarcity was the devil that our great economy had killed. The conservation habits of our grandparents were an embarrassment.
I remember laughing when i heard the story about how my great-grandmother would save tea bags in her purse in a little piece of foil.
It wasn’t that she couldn’t afford tea. She just couldn’t waste what she knew she could reuse.
Now we live in an age of coming scarcity. The excess of the past age haunts us, in islands of plastics and microbeads and cities teaming in garbage. We know that the time to live with less and reduce our footprint is upon us.
My wife and i went to the woods, to become the Caring Campers, to escape excess. We made the choice to live with less and to live deliberately, inspired by others who have taken a similar choice.
We made the choice to live by the principle that “your mess is mine,” and instead of being blind to the debris of the age of excess, to be conscious of it. And to choose to help others to be conscious of it too.
But i confess that I didn’t make this change without difficulty. I couldn’t have done it alone. And i confess that i’m still learning, still becoming conscious.
It took help and time for me to wake up to what i needed to do to change my consciousness, to change how i lived and find what to live for.
Before my wife, i wouldn’t separate my trash, i’d use single serving plastics and pass over litter without even seeing it.
It took someone else’s consciousness to open up my consciousness and I’m grateful for it.
As a student of history it is clear to me that the coming age of scarcity demands a change of consciousness. It demands the awareness of scarcity that my great-grandmother had.
Growing up on a farm, she and her family had no idea if the next harvest would sustain them until the following year, or if the price of grain would fall, or any other of a countless number of calamities might occur to their ruin.
This is the heart of the problem of our coming age. We lack the experience of scarcity, we fly from it. But the consciousness of scarcity is what our coming times demand.
My work, our work, the work of any Caring Camper is to stay conscious. To be ready to see the needs of others, to pioneer a place and a way to live with less, to make a place free of the debris of excess that is choking our planet and burdening the coming generations with the filth of unconscious living.
This morning i’m enjoying my tea. Last night i threw out yesterday’s tea bag.
I won’t make that choice again.
Every small deliberate action has a direct effect on the quality of life for all. Even saving tea.