Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rampant branding, bah!

Needed gumboots for the kids. Yes, it rains more than plenty here. But do you think I could easily find a pair without some idiotic character on them?

You can buy gumboots with Dora, Bratz, Fairies, Ninja Turtles, Wiggles and oodles of other brands on them. You wouldn’t think unbranded would be so damned hard to find. Kmart? In a whole rack there was one pair in an unbranded design, in the wrong size. Oh, and two pairs of camo ones, but we try to avoid camo, it’s a small doses only thing. Target? Snort, same again. Best & Less? They don’t believe in gumboots. Impractical shoes certainly, but not gumboots. I finally remembered where a Payless was and lo and behold! Tucked away with the Bob the Builder ones, Aussie Gumboots with no idiotic branding! One pink pair and one yellow pair later we exited the shop having paid less than we would have for one Dora the Explorer pair at Kmart.
Why on earth is it getting so hard to find anything for kids that isn’t licensed? We had the same problem with backpacks and ended up finding some at Anaconda. You really have to search to find anything targeted at children that isn’t merchandised. Most people don’t care but my children are not walking advertisements, nor are they mindless clones. Nor are they precocious little tarts, a la Bratz style, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant. Is there actually that much demand for it? Do parents really think it’s fantastic to have everything their child owns plastered with Dora the Explorer? Or do people just buy what’s available? Because of branding power are these products undercutting and eventually killing the unbranded items and getting them removed from stores?

And, on a tangent, do some parents let their kids do the bossing? I’ve heard a few parents say things along the lines of “He won’t brush his teeth without a Shrek toothbrush”, or “She throws a tantrum unless she has a Wiggles nappy”. Amazing, here I was thinking they did these things because that’s what’s expected of them. Whatever did our grandparents do with their plain white nappies and boring toothbrushes? There must have been soooo many tantrums :P

Enough ranting from me for now, I need to start planning my full days shopping adventure to find my kids some boring t-shirts.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Go girls!

The chooks are laying!

After threatening the chooks numerous times with the axe (which the kids were slavering to use on them, the little barbarians), they relented and began laying. Poor girls, the first few were all covered with blood and you could hear a mighty clucking from the nesting box, but the two that are laying seem to be used to it now. So we are now self-sufficient in eggs! Once the other two start laying we’ll have eggs galore, and I want to get another four chooks to make a decent chicken tractor, so we can start producing something to barter. Next door is always throwing us his excess vegetables from the garden, he loves that the kid will eat raw broad beans and carrots, so it’ll be great to give them something back.
Eggs, straight from the chooks' bum :P

And our girls

Friday, April 18, 2008

Choosing Eden-Adrienne Langman

I was given this to read by a friend who ordered it from the library. It was on a long waiting list so I assume it’s fairly popular.

It’s predominantly about Peak Oil. Peak Oil is the term for when worldwide oil production will peak, and after the peak of course comes decline. When you think of what is made by or with oil, it becomes pretty obvious that this will affect us in a big way. It makes sense, after all oil is a finite resource. Since our goal is to become mostly self-sufficient anyway it was just another reason to do so, it doesn’t feature as a major worry on my radar. The greenie in me suspects it’s one of the best things that could happen, as horrific as it sounds.

These people though, were majorly freaked out by Peak Oil, and decided to leave their very modern, hard working consumerist lives in central Sydney to move to 12 acres in northern NSW, in their fifties. Their aim is to become as self-sufficient as possible and leave a great food source for their kids and grandkids. Radical, but good.

The book irritated me a lot though. It did seem to be simply a vessel for raising Peak Oil awareness, as that’s what most of it is about. It irritated me how the story finished before they’d become anywhere near self-sufficient-after all, I don’t think you can preach to the masses if you’ve never achieved it. The cynic in me suspects they’re leaving it open for book #2 and the resultant income this will bring. The main thing that irritated me though is how little they seemed to grasp the concept of self-sufficiency-when they moved into the new house they got people in to do everything they needed rather than have a bash themselves first. They bought so much stuff when preparing to move! And the toilet paper stock-up.........argh! She also shudders at the thought of reusable menstrual products and pats herself on the back for sacrificing things like the dishwasher.

I know, i’m a purist. But it got me thinking of motives. Our motivation for self-sufficiency is the healthy food, the healthy lifestyle and what we think is a great way for kids to grow up. Reducing our environmental footprint is a big part-we discuss most things we buy to decide whether our use of it makes it worth it being produced, or to try to come up with a better alternative. I find it a fascinating challenge to slowly replace things I buy with things i’ve made/grown/bartered for, and it also helps satisfy my militant anti-consumerism. Frugality comes into it-we’re certainly not the most well-off people you’ll ever meet and penny pinching is an everyday necessity, but we quite enjoy the challenge of it, especially when we get to reap the reward of the totally cruisy and stress-free lifestyle we live.

They, on the other hand, were doing it purely as a disaster escape plan. They believe Peak Oil will wreak havoc on society and their family will need what they’re doing to survive. It’s preservation driving them. So it was OK for them to buy anything they wanted-they’re not trying to avoid or prevent anything, they’re trying to stock up and prepare for it.

And I think this is why the book irritated me so much-the motives were so different from mine. Not necessarily wrong, but completely and utterly different.

So, should you read it? If you’re a suburbanite who doesn’t know how a peanut grows or how to thread a needle, or you’re interested in Peak Oil then go for it. If you’re already into the green lifestyle and as intolerant as my husband and I then don’t. It’ll also give you the irrits.