Week 8: The End of Winters?

Apologies for being very, very late to the #PushPastPlastic blog this week. Having been off of work for a couple of weeks, I recently made my return to teaching, and most of my efforts in the last ten days or so have been focused on getting classes ready. At the same time, by virtue of not travelling anywhere, and having access to only my local organic stores and market produce, both our plastic consumption and carbon footprint were brought right down – so not so bad on balance.

Being home for so long also allowed us to take stock of where we are, where we are going, and how we feel about the bigger picture. We know that to truly achieve a plastic free, waste free form of living, we have to producing the vast majority of our consumables ourselves. So, we will be planting and growing a significant amount of fruit and vegetables this year, but the critical question at the moment, is when to start?

While we were planting, on a smaller scale, last year, much of our stock suffered in a mid-summer drought (we even had a small tax-rebate from the French state to compensate for loss of produce, such is the ‘grow your own’ culture here). When looking out of the window in the last week, and being confronted with temperatures over 20 degrees in the later part of February, we had to ask some serious questions about what was going on.

From a selfish perspective, strong sunshine in February presents all sorts of problems. Do you gamble on the sun settling in, and start planting – while risking your crop should the weather turn again? What of all of our fruit and berry trees which suddenly started popping buds all over the place – does this mean a bumper early harvest? Or does it mean that our fruit crop will be decimated if returning frosts kill off those early shoots of Spring?

Instead we focused on prepping some of the new permaculture planting beds, and clearing some overgrowth which was blocking sunlight to the rear of the garden. We will get some planting started indoors, but ultimately hold off on anything outside just for the moment (and as I type, the weather outside has dropped a good ten degrees, if not more, from last week…).

Then there is the global perspective. Average temperatures tipping into the twenties in mid to late February is not normal. When we look at the start of the month, we were under snow and struggling to get out of our house, three weeks later and we were sweating working in the sun. This time last year, I couldn’t even get to work because of snow storms, and now you could be forgiven for worrying about planes getting stuck in melting tarmac…okay, so maybe it’s not quite that bad, but the climate is doing its best to communicate something.

I suppose that has been the one small note of encouragement, that a larger number of voices seem to finally be acknowledging that this is not normal. Individuals who I know to not really be bothered about climate concerns, are now talking about the changes that are happening in front of them. I mean, it only took roughly a doubling of average February temperatures for most people to notice and question such transitions as a potential negative, but you have to start somewhere. We may well have passed the point of no return, and the gradual increase in awareness may by simply be too late, but perhaps it gives us all a fighting chance.

Sunburns in February – it is why we are doing what we do: #PushPastPlastic #PlasticFree

 

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