Friday, August 23, 2013

the beginning

Eco-conscious living has not always been a priority for me.  

As a college student, I was focused on my cello and my classes, and didn't give much thought to the effect my everyday lifestyle was having on myself or the planet.  Convenience at any cost.  Was it fast?  Was it easy?  Then who cared how much waste it produced!

Then I graduated.  And got a job (and a cat!).  And got married.  The dorm room changed to a (small) house--a house that my husband had bought before we had even been dating.  As we both worked to find ways re-organize and re-purpose the house to make it work for the both of us (i.e.: de-batchelorify it), I scoured the internet for organizing and space-saving help.  On my quest, I found several blogs that talked about using less-toxic household cleaners.

I had never really paid much attention to what was in the things that I used to clean our house.  But it made sense.  Why did I have to hold my breath, keep the window open and the fan on just to clean the shower?  Initially, I went out and bought the "green" cleaners that were sold in the grocery store, but eventually moved to using just vinegar, water, baking soda and castile soap.

After I had taken that step, it kind of snowballed.  We stopped eating the overly-processed food we had been relying on for "convenience" and started shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and the farmers market.  (Michael Moss' book, Salt, Sugar, Fat was a huge wake-up call for me, I would highly recommend it!)

The last piece of the puzzle for me was plastic.  I stumbled onto Beth Terry's blog My Plastic Free Life, and was amazed at the devastating impact our dependence on disposable plastic has on the oceans.  In the back of my mind, I was always somewhat aware of the fact we were overburdening our landfills, but I really had no idea what we were doing to the oceans and their ecosystems.  (Turtles, birds, and other marine life end up eating our discarded plastic that washes into our waterways.  Google Pacific garbage patch).  So I committed to Plastic Free July, and found I was able to GREATLY reduce our plastic consumption.  We weren't perfect--I wasn't able to find a good dish soap alternative, among a few other things--but we found a new way of functioning, which somehow felt so much more satisfying than how we had been doing it before.

I feel like I have learned so much over the beginning of our journey, and I would love to share it with anyone who wants to know more.  And I have so much more to learn from you!  We have taken small steps, and made mistakes along the way.  But that's ok.  And you don't have to be a crunchy hippie to be concerned about these issues.  I'm not.  And my (very patient) husband definitely isn't.

Why we went green

 So, why did I decide to make these choices?

1. Healthier for us: the highly processed foods we were eating and unnecessarily strong chemicals we were cleaning with were not good for us.

2. Healthier for the planet: the disposable lifestyle that I had mindlessly participated in for years is not sustainable for our climate, our wildlife, or the planet.  I started thinking about what our future children would inherit.

3. Healthier for our wallet: not spending $$$ on a cleaner for every different surface in the house, a thousand different personal care products, and every new "convenient" packaged food has saved us money, even as we invested in purchasing more organic food and higher quality things.

4. Simplicity: less disposable items means less trash and less clutter.  It feels liberating to not have my bathroom counter cluttered with a plethora of different products.  It's easier to keep everything clean when I don't come back from the store with a bunch of plastic bags and throw away packaging.

I can't wait to share more of the things I have learned, and some more of the steps we have begun to take.  Thank you so much for listening!  What steps have you taken towards a greener lifestyle?  What have you struggled with?  I'd love to hear!

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