Last Wednesday was the earliest Earth Overshoot Day ever registered, which means we have used more resources from our planet than it can renew within a year, with still 5 months to go till the end of the year.  This date happened to fall on the Swiss National Day – 1st of August, which made big news. According to Swissinfo, Switzerland is operating as if it had three planets at its disposal: it passed its country overshoot day on May 7. If everyone on the planet could afford the lifestyle of people living in Switzerland, as well as in many parts of Europe, it would be for a very very short time.

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I realize that my childhood in communist Romania, apart from many restrictions and privations, had some perks. I grew up with many positive habits about consumption and reusing stuff, such as buying only seasonal and local produce, preserving food, consuming less meat and creatively cooking the same produce, reusing plastic food containers or always having a textile bag on hand, repairing damaged clothing items instead of throwing away etc, habits which I had easily given up in the capitalist, post-communist society.

My sister and I were 11 when this photo was taken, we would often wear our mother’s clothes. Our grandmother would sew or knit clothing for us, but by the time we were teenagers it wasn’t cool anymore
My sister, our mother and I at a monastery in Bukowina in 1995. By then we could easily exchange items between us.

While we are not large scale consumers, we do our share of harm by perpetuating unnecessary and less thoughtful consumerism.  Having said this, we decided to reduce our own footprint, especially of items that are harmful to the environment and start implementing the healthy habits we used to have as children.  And also to teach them to FriBoy.  When buying or using something our basic mantra is:

  • Do I need this?
  • Can I make it myself?
  • Is it harmful to someone or something in my environment?
  • Can I replace it with something less harmful?

There are many way in which children can reduce their own contribution to the harm we are inflicting to our environment, for example when I was a kid I owned very few toys, mostly a couple of dolls for which I used to make dresses out of handkerchiefs, to my grandmother’s despair. Children have the innate ability the create something out of nothing. Most plastic toys are completely unnecessary.

Toy car from Senegal made out of tin cans

I realize how being a crafty family has supported us in reducing the amount of toys we buy because Friboy prefers to make his own toys rather than play with the ones we bought. Except for the occasional Lego play, he has lost interest in every commercial item he owns.

Here is our latest craft, a cardboard aquarium. To build it you need:

  • a shoe box or any other large carton box
  • several egg cartons, we used 3
  • a glue gun
  • craft paint
  • colorful pipe cleaners and pom-poms
  • eyes (you can use paper or simply draw them)
  • colored card stock

We painted the shoe box and cut card stock shaped algae to glue on the inside of the aquarium.

We also cut and painted the egg cartons to match the sea creatures we wanted. This is pretty intuitive, I used pinterest pics for reference.

 We also made a submarine using a large paper roll and a smaller toilet paper one, glued together with the glue gun. On top of the aquarium I cut a round hole and attached an ice floe for the penguins, so they can jump in the water to cool off.

This was not just a vacation craft, Friboy enjoys playing with his aquarium, assigning evil and good roles to each sea creature and battling them against each other. And when he had a classmate over, I noticed that he, too, was more interested in playing with this aquarium that my son’s other toys.

This is an important topic to me and I will continue the series with the other ideas we are implementing to change our lifestyle to a more conscious and less impactful one. I also recommend you use the WWF app guide. For Switzerland,  you can download it here.



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