Guest Blog: Amiee Hiers, The world we live in…


Peter, Paul & The Joneses

We have only been living this industrial, consumer lifestyle for about 3 to 4 generations. We know in our hearts and minds that this lifestyle isn’t working. Pollution, landfills are full. We now take our garbage overseas to contaminate that land as well.

Why are we such great consumers? Well, it actually comes down to war. War, you ask? After the World Wars our factories that were making our weapons, ammunition and vehicles now needed to make something else so the companies, now large corporations could still make money. “Rosie the Riviter” was no longer needed. The factories where “she” once worked were now making items and gadgets they tell her would make her life much easier around the house. Almost everything was advertised as “Once you purchase, use or consume this item you won’t know how you ever lived without it!” Our Great grandparents knew what most of us now don’t. Why don’t we know? That’s an interesting question.

Only 4 generations ago we were making our own “Everything” We didn’t need so many factories, making so many things.

Soap, soap was soap and it was used for everything. The same bars or liquid you made yourself, usually in the fall, would clean your floors, pots and pan, clothing and you. We now buy what we think are many different kinds of soaps and detergents to do all kinds of different things. Since we are the 4th generation in this span we, unless a hobbyist, buy all our cleaning products. We don’t know we are basically buying 5 different bottles labeled for 5 different uses but, all with the same ingredients. We know we can’t live as comfortably or as complacently without them. If we knew that we already had in our cabinets or pantry the same main ingredients, drastically cheaper that would do the same job or better we might kick ourselves. There is also the apathetic. They know but, they don’t care. There is a huge population of the apathetic. I wonder what it would take to finally impact them.

We used to make our clothing ourselves. Usually you had someone in your family who loved the craft and was the most talented. They would usually cloth the whole family. An Irish family would have their own unique knitting pattern for their sweaters. A deceased family member could be identified simply by the knitting pattern on their sweater, if needed IE a Fisherman washed up on shore. The patterns were and are still on record. They made their own wool. They didn’t buy spools or material at the local craft store.

My late aunt was an executive at Polaroid in Cambridge, MA. She bought all her material but she made all of her business suits herself. They were amazing! She was always complimented and when asked where she bought them she would say in Sweden. She wasn’t able to admit she made them in fear a co-worker would think less of her for not paying hundreds of dollars for one suit. She drove a diesel Volkswagen bug for 30 years. After it was 10 years old she told us she was looked down on because she had an older car. She then gave it to my mother and she bought herself a large gas guzzling Buick. My mother took very good car of the VW Bug. When my mother got married and was going to finally send the Bug to the dump my aunt bought the Bug back from my mother. Put in a new transmission, belts, and a new paint job. Now this car was a vintage classic! The car they told her was unbecoming of an executive was now a very trendy car. A trendy car that I was told had over 350k Miles, that’s when the odometer stopped working.

We used to heat our homes using the same equipment we used to cook our meals. In the winter your fireplace or wood stove was burning all day and night. My Nana kept the entire house toasty warm simply by filling the large cast iron kettle with water and sitting it on top of the stove. She would sleep cozily by the fire in the winter and refill it as needed. She would hand pump her well water outside before bed and have the water buckets by the fire. No nose bleeds from dry hot air like they had later. They did what everyone at the time was doing. They installed a coal furnace to heat their homes. Coal was dirty, it turned the walls black with soot. They were all breathing this in. My Grandfather died from Lung cancer… I wonder why?

They had electricity but Nana hardly ever used it. She still read and knit by candle light. She cooked on the wood burning stove, fried fresh eggs every morning. We ate duck for our holidays. She raised rabbits and ducks. She killed skinned and gutted them herself. Making sure to drain and save the animal fat to render later and make her soap. She didn’t pick up meat for dinner at the local market. We don’t know what to do without the meat at our stores.

It was her children that used the electricity. An electric stove was bought for my Nana. It was a joke in the family that it was never used until Nana gave the house to her Daughter Valry. Valry contemporized the family homestead. However, she used the coal delivery service, heating the home with coal until the company ran out of business in the 1980’s. She has always had breathing problems. I wonder if 40 yrs of breathing coal fumes had anything to do with it. She was forced to convert to oil heating in 1987. I literally mean forced by local laws! She had it installed but I was told she never used it. She simply went back to heating the home with a wood stove. She had replaced the ancient model with a very classy one. This model was for heating only. She said in passing that she used the electric stove to cook and she had a hard time finding any model made for use inside the home that had cooking duvets built in. We don’t know how to live without our oil or electric heating, gas or electric stoves, or at least on a regular basis.

We have and consume too much. We now have so much “they” didn’t have. Computers, cell phones, microwaves, blenders, I can go on and on. We (4th or 5th generation of industrial consumerism) never lived without these things. Most of us don’t know how to live without them. We have trapped ourselves into this mess! Why, are some of us so arrogant that we think our value and quality of life is more valuable than the earth itself? We will be long gone before the earth is. Why do we think it would be so difficult to use less energy and fossil fuels? The first engine that was ever made was meant to run on peanut oil! Not, Fossil fuels at all. It was a business man that decided to try to sell his oil for use in engines. Automakers liked the idea. We didn’t have as many cars back then. We had enough oil in the US to run and maintain the cars they were producing.

Crisco was originally manufactured to be used as oil for oil lamps and candles to light our homes! When most homes being built were being wired with electricity a business man had to find a way to sell his product to continue to make money just like the War factories had done. Cooking oil and or grease, really? My nana never used Crisco she said it was poison. “We were never meant to eat such a thing.” Well she was right but, that’s another blog all together.

Once I learned about the damage we were doing to the earth and ourselves I couldn’t understand why we hadn’t changed. Business men found ways like those above to change and continue to make money. Why won’t the US auto makers manufacture diesel vehicles for its customers, aka consumers.  Why won’t they manufacture cars to run on bio fuels like other countries? Why won’t they make electric or rechargeable cars affordable for all? Why won’t Electric Companies that run on natural gas or coal start installing Solar panels and produce wind turbines? Why not link with solar panel manufacturers to created an infrastructure of it? Why not install solar panels on roofs of new housing, on apartment buildings? Why won’t they make a change like business men did before? After researching, this is what I have come up with.

Greed: Greed in its worst form. If everyone used bio diesel in our cars the big oil and car manufacturers would lose their business. It’s a fact, a diesel vehicle lasts 10 to 20 years longer and is cheaper to maintain. They wouldn’t need to produce as much because we wouldn’t be consuming as much as we did before. This means they would make less money. Solar, it costs money to create and maintain the panels along with energy storage. In the end when the infrastructure is in place they wouldn’t be able to make as much money as they do now polluting with coal and gas. They lobby, and pay large amounts to ensure they stay. Money, over clean water, money, over clean air. What will they do when there is no clean air or water left? Money won’t buy them out of that chaos! It’s greed. Does greed cause apathy?

It’s time for a change! I make my own soaps disinfectants and cleaners. Only one of these items I can’t make myself which is bleach. I buy my lye but, I know how to make it if I needed to. All I need to clean my family and my home are all natural items that come straight from the earth itself. IE, Sodium Borate, aka Borax. Soda ash, aka washing soda, salt, bleach, lye, alcohol, ammonia, animal fat or a type of vegetable or grain oil and vinegar. If you go look at all the cleaning products around your house those are the main ingredients I guarantee it. I don’t buy separate laundry and dishwasher detergent. I make batches of each right at home as needed. Usually a month’s worth at a time. I save hundreds of dollars a year making my own. Ask anyone. My clothes, dishes, house and Family are just as clean as yours. Bleach isn’t necessary. I could live without it. I am apathetic to bleach! Using bleach isn’t killing our environment nor is producing it so I don’t feel guilty.

I have stopped using my central air conditioner. It was more than half of my electric costs. Ceiling fans do the job just fine. I do have a portable AC if it gets seriously hot here in FL. Using the portable AC instead of the central unit saves me 75% on my electric bill. When it does get cold, sweat pants with a sweatshirt and covered feet does well. I have many thro blankets for us if we are still chilly. My home does have a well. I can’t afford to take my house off of city water. It would cost me more than a year’s worth of water. I was able to change the outside water pipes back to the well. My yard spigots and sprinkler system is on well water. Imagine how much I could save if I didn’t have to pay the water company to unhook me from their pipes? If the house was run completely on well water like it used to be I would save roughly $2400 a year! Most homes now are not built with wells. So we are forced to consume. Forced to use and buy city water. Some of us have never lived without it.

There is no need for us to consume so much! 150 years of industrial consumerism has destroyed our world and ourselves. We can still have our televisions, cell phones, air conditioners cars, etc. But, do you really need the latest model phone, when the phone you are using works perfectly? Do we really have to believe that commercial that tells us “We have to have it?” “We can’t live without it?” Of course we can. Get the TV, AC, car, microwave etc. repaired. Do you really need that big 3D TV? Does your 42 inch plasma not do enough for you? How many of the features on that TV do you actually use? I bet a simple pair of needle nose pliers can fix that zipper on that jacket or jeans. Take 5 minutes and fix them instead of consuming another pair. Stop robbing Peter to pay Paul in order to keep up with the Jones’!

Word Count: 2136

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2 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Amiee Hiers, The world we live in…

  1. Makes one think. And if you have a strong connection, parents or grandparents, with the early part of the 20th century, it makes you really think.

  2. Thank you. My 13 year old read my blog and asked me if it was true. I told him my late aunt Lindy died on my 16th birthday very suddenly from a brain aneurysm . Now 34 I remember her fondly. When I was 10 she made me a fur coat with matching hat and Muff. She told me she had just enough left over for a set for me too. She told me how fun it was to try to make things like that. I learned how to hem and the basics of sewing and needle point from her. I remember her Bug. White with white interior. Nana taught me self reliance. She raised 4 children on $12 dollars a week. I miss her, it seemed every problem I had ever had was solved by one phone call to Nana.

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