Please follow the link "New shopping mall" for a bit of information about the shopping part of the site overall. You will also find "About us" pages in the shopping site.
Living With Awareness is owned and run by me - a work at home mum. You'll find orders filled and emails answered at various times of the day and night as I juggle running this business with family life and other work.
This business started because of my desire to share ideas and information about ways to live with less harm. Because it is a bit about my "journey" in trying to reduce my ecological footprint, you will find that the site grows in various directions - when starting to use cloth nappies, that section grew, when investigating cleaning products, they were added and also the forum for you to share your own methods and recipes, and so on. There are also lots of products that I just haven't yet been able to source, or that I haven't had time to list yet.
I have another business which is quite different, but which perhaps you will see rests on some similar principles. You can learn more about that from the website at www.relationshipdynamics.com.au. On that site there is more information about my background. It is less relevant here. You can also learn more about me by visiting my blog - at http://fionassewing.blogspot.com/
It is an interesting excercise to think about and to try and define your values and principles. I spent a while thinking about this in 2005, and found it difficult to sum them up and to decide what should be included, how far each one went, etc. I ended up with a list of principles. I decided not to get hung up on decided what were values and what were principles, and if there was a heirarchy. They came out of my current practice, rather than out of a desire for major changes, but by defining them some future decisions are made easier - it is easier to stay on the path that I really think is important to take as it is so easy to get distracted by all the "noise" that is around us.
So here they are, as I wrote them at the time.
2 June 2005
Harmony: “The desire for things to work out, for people to work together in collaboration. The combination or adaptation of parts, elements or related things, to form a consistent and orderly whole, agreement, accord, congruity, agreement of feeling or sentiment, peaceableness, concord.” This is more of an underlying attitude than a principle with specific applications. Although living in harmony with the planet would have applications, but that is covered below. One practical application of this would be in work that focuses on helping people understand each other (eg teaching about understanding personality, etc).
Consideration: “Regard for the circumstances, feelings, comfort, etc, of another; thoughtfulness for another; thoughtful kindness.” Once again, this is like the “harmony” principle in being more of an underlying attitude than something to specifically apply.
Continuous improvement, progress and learning: “Continuous urge to increase one’s knowledge and skills; a desire to do things better or get the best out of things.” This is probably something I do naturally anyway. Don’t just decide I’ve “arrived” but continually look for ways to improve. Continue to learn. This also includes encouraging the learning and the development of inquisitive minds of the children.
Maximum utilisation of a resource: “Make full use of a resource to increase efficiency, productivity, save money, save resources, etc.” This is a bit like the Permaculture principle of having three uses for everything. An example would be in keeping chooks – they are not just for eggs, but will also control weeds and pests, and fertilise the garden, and they’ll provide entertainment! This principle also overlaps with “Sustainability”, in that it will include reusing water, composting, etc.
Sustainability: “Put/give back equal or greater than one takes; use resources that are renewable.” We shouldn’t be taking from the planet without giving back. While renting, there is a limit to what can be done although composting and feeding the soil, and buying organic food, are steps in the right direction. When the situation permits in the future I would like to be using renewable power (although this may mean feeding excess energy into the grid in summer and drawing on that in winter), composting (including a composting toilet), collect and reuse water (grey water systems, water tank, etc).
Health: The health of myself, my family and others is important. This means that I need to continue to learn about the effects of chemicals, etc, on our bodies, and to learn about nutrition for optimum health. I would also like to learn about natural health (herbs, etc). It is my responsibility to encourage my children to be healthy by providing good food, encouraging physical activity and setting a good example. Where possible I will encourage others to learn about and apply practices that will lead to good health (eg organic food).
Happiness: Remember how important it is that myself, my family and others are happy. Although there are drudgeries and there is sadness, overall we need to do things to make us happy! In practice, this means things like having fun with the kids rather than just focusing on work (in a broad sense) – we need to plan fun days out and play time at home. It can also mean having fun colours or paintings around or making fun parts in the garden or house even if there aren’t other reasons (although generally there can be).
Minimal harm: Do whatever is in my power to minimise harm to people, animals or the environment. My focus is on those within my immediate circle, rather than on being involved in world wide strategies and campaigns (although this isn’t to say that global issues are ignored or involvement would never be possible). A practical example of this would be using minimal or environmentally friendly cleaning products (which also comes under sustainability and health). This principle is also where being a vegetarian fits in.
Responsibility: I think there is too much blaming others or situations for our problems, situations, etc. Even little things like making excuses for being late!
Comment on the guiding principles:
I am aware that in some cases I have looked at things I want to do and then translated them into principles, rather than the other way around which might seem like the “correct” way to do things. But I think that perhaps these desires are the best way to work out what the principles are. And then by translating them into principles, I can be more consistent and effective, and can also use them to help decision making.
Even though I have listed some things that are more like values, I haven’t bothered with values that I think would be assumed (honesty, integrity, etc).
If I had to summarise them into one point, then perhaps it would be something like “Minimise harm and improve things where possible”, although this doesn't cover it all!