The green journey

An underground rainwater reservoir is an important part of our green journey.

The green journey is really about entering a new part of the inner self; a voyage of discovery of distant lands and cultures, so to speak.

There are strange tongues and new words that hitherto you may have only heard, but now start to explore; what are eco friendly homes?

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 27th November, 2018.

By Bernard Preston

It's like a tram doing a large circuit of a strange city; you can get on and off at various stations, each inviting, but you can't visit every district and suburb in a week. In fact, it takes a lifetime, and you're still not done exploring.

Quite possibly you're still at Grand Central Station, watching the trams flashing past, and quite bewildered.

One tram has a flashing sign, and it's on the way to Solar City. Another is inviting you to global warming, and the first stop you see simply screams out the melting ice pack; and yet another to better well-being.

One is inviting you to what is really a very old square simply known as Prayer and yet another is just called The Garden. Perhaps the first stop beckoning is called Permaculture, and the second Sustainability and yet a third Nitrogen Fixation. 

Endless trams continue to intrigue and frighten you; where will it lead you, if you dare to step on one of them? Yet another of life's cul de sacs, or will one of these bring meaning and fulfillment?

One thing is certain; please, would someone stop the world. I want to get off; I'm so tired. Is less really more?

The green journey

Yes, the green journey is a voyage within, and many, even most, never make it. It all sounds so difficult, like climbing Everest, or sailing the North West passage. Yet, to your surprise, you see hundreds of people stepping onto this tram or that; they are obviously familiar with the scene at Grand Central Station, and quite unphased by the throngs jumping on and off.

They've already started the green journey, yet some still look very hesitant but, with a push and shove, they're on board, and off the tram speeds.

Where shall I start, you think? Which tram shall I take? Don't rush, but also don't wait too long, or you may find yourself left behind. But you do want to get on the right journey to begin with; wait until you see a sign that resonates with you.

For me, it was two beacons that called. The first was, "if you don't look after your body, where are you planning to live?" That resonated; in fact it shocked me out of my reverie. And the second was, "You do want to sit one day under the trees you once planted, and watch your grandchildren grow up, don't you?"

There will be other beacons beckoning you, so you just step on the tram that's got your name on it. For me, it was the one called Life without Medication.

Life without medication

A life without medication and leaving behind a habitable world for our grandchildren rank high on my list of priorities; they were the first and second stops on our green journey.

Our green journey has meant there is no pills box on our dining room table.

Perhaps you are just sick and tired of taking so many pills. This one to do that, and another to counteract its side effects; yet another to deal with the nagging pain in the tum, or those terrible headaches. Your body aches all over, and you're only thirty-five.

Or perhaps you are deathly afraid because two of your friends have just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and your mother seems to have the early signs of senile dementia, and she's not even sixty-five.

Or your spouse has already had one coronary ablation, and now he's going in for open heart surgery and you're afraid. You know you're both eating crap, and you can't stop smoking yourself, so how can you nag at him?

Mysterious, elusive, well-being and being free from illness and pain lurks, seemingly on the horizon, and then, bingo, a tram rumbles into the station, and it's got your name on it; it's called the green journey, and the driver is hooting at YOU, waiting for you to climb on.

Solar city

Solar city is a stop you'll find at our green home; there is oodles of free sunshine just waiting to be collected, stored and used.

Solar lens effect advertises the potential benefits offered by Mr Golden Sun.

Suddenly, inexplicably, a smoke stack pouring carbon dioxide and other noxious smelling gases into the atmosphere has invaded your mind's eye. You can't escape it; we are poisoning our world by burning fossil fuels.

You've been carefully looking the other way, desperately, but still that smoke stack; and then someone posts you an email showing the melting icepack, and you realise it's for real. And you look at your grandchildren, and guilt smites; what legacy are you leaving them?

No longer can you evade it, and you start to make inquiries. Could your second vehicle be battery operated? Is it safe? Do they break down? How far can they go? And could I stomach those ugly solar panels on my roof to energise my home, and my electric car? Instead of going on that cruise to Alaska this year, should we instead visit Solar City?

You choose your own personalised voyage; make the green journey your own.

Healthy choice foods

Healthy choice foods are half the journey to a quality, long life. They are a top destination at Bernard Preston's travel bureau to the green journey.

Mature spinach growing in the garden is an obvious sign that a greenie lives here.

There's one place that's really nagging; granny and gramps were such serene people and you have memories of walking with them down into the secret garden. There she grew such beautiful flowering shrubs and a host of choice healthy foods, and he was always busy with his compost piles and fruit trees, and his bee hives.

They both lived to their upper eighties, and you have a fear that neither of you are going to make it to seventy; perhaps not even sixty if that bypass doesn't go well.

But it's the little poem that granny had stitched and framed next to her bedside that really gets under your skin.

"When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there's always the garden."

Oh, how wearisome the world is, and how the superficiality of friends and family so often seems. Can I really give up watching so much TV, and just play bridge once a week, and get stuck into the garden? Would it bring me Granny's serenity. Would all that organic food really cure me of all that ails me? Do I really want to start the green journey? My own one?

What would it do to my back? Would it mean umpteen more visits to the chiropractor? Could I really do those exercises he's been nagging me to do all these years, but I really couldn't be bothered. He keeps saying, 'but they only take two minutes every morning before getting out of bed.' Even so, it's bad enough making time to brush and floss your teeth. Could I find another two minutes? I'm so busy, so rushed, I just don't have the time.

"Actually, you do," chimes Jiminy Cricket. "You just have to change your priorities."

Shall I take The Garden tram? The first station is Growing Swiss Chard. Yes, I think I will. Maybe tomorrow I'll buy some seeds.

The greening of the self

In far more profound terms, Joanna Macy's version of the green journey, is about opening our hearts and very selves to the natural world; she calls it the greening of the self. It's only now beginning to filter through how homeless we would feel and, in fact, are beginning to feel, as we ruin our world.

The fact that there will soon be more plastic in the sea than fish, and those crossing the Pacific describe it as dead, seems remote. But when ten dead sperm whales are washed up on our shores, their bellies filled with plastic, we begin to grasp the severity of it all. What kind of an inheritance are we leaving to our grandchildren, or is that a topic far too painful to consider?

If each of us began with just one tiny thing; it would make a tremendous difference; a first step. Recycle a beer can, not drop a battery in the garbage, plant a bee-friendly legume, decide never again to purchase an incandescent light bulb, and recycle some plastic; all would contribute.

Greening of the self is a great concept; we are beginning to realize that the world is our body; the Amazon jungle and the oceans are my lungs.

Capturing and storing rainwater

Worldwide, abundant clean water is increasingly becoming a problem. Building new dams that destroy our wetlands is coming under the spotlight on a planet losing its biodiversity daily.

Capturing and storing rainwater is our water innovation project, a central feature of our green journey, and it's proved inexpensive and reasonably simple.

Capetonians have discovered the meaning of the phrase 'water shedding', as it's been forced up their noses with great discomfort. Yet a 30,000 litre underground reservoir would solve the problems faced by every family.

Only for one month in seven years have we needed water from the municipal reticulation; the water is pristine, and very cold underground. We drink it without filtration.

This is our rainwater harvesting model.

» » The Green Journey

Bernard Preston

Bernard Preston's green journey through the polders of Holland might interest you; it's only available as an ebook on your tablet or Kindle.

The green journey is just waiting for you; like Pilgrim's Progress there are pitfalls along the way. That's what makes it fun.

Cover of Stones in my Clog by Bernard Preston.

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What's this site about?

Bernard Preston books

A family affair by Bernard Preston comes after the trilogy that starts with Frog in my Throat.

Consulting a chiropractor

Femoral nerve AP Xray from one of Bernard Preston's books.

Bernie's choice foods

Cooking green beans Bernard Preston passion

Bernie's bread

Bread machine loaf by Bernard Preston

Bernie's garden

green beans and granadillas Bernard Preston

Bernie's bees

Bees workforce in Bernard Preston's garden

Bernie's chickens

Chickens for free range eggs.

Bernie's solar

Residential solar panels at Bernard Preston's home

Bernie's rainwater harvest

Harvesting rainwater to a reservoir in the garden means a steady supply that is unpolluted by environmental toxins.