Tag Archives: simple living

I’m Not Buying It!

I believe that one of the most important things we can do to be sustainable is live a simpler life, one without so much disposable stuff.  Now I’m putting my money where my mouth is and joining the I’m Not Buying It challenge at Greenhab.  I think this challenge will not only be good for the environment but also good for our bank account.  We’re pledging to not buy anything new for the next six months! Here are the exceptions:

  • Food: Of course we need to buy food.  However, I am going to try to limit packaged foods more than I already do, and I’m also going to limit us to one meal out per month, which I think is more than we’ll actually go out.
  • Gifts: I’m not going to limit myself for Joshua’s birthday!
  • Seeds/plants or other items that will make us more secure and independent
  • Chickens and associated purchases, but we’ll try to use salvaged materials to build their coop.
  • Baby: Joshua needs gdiaper refills, disposable diapers for daycare, and I may need to pick up membranes for my pump, etc. 

Here are some of the actions I’m taking to make this pledge work:

  • Get back to the library.  I’m a total book hoarder, and there’s no reason for me to purchase every single book that I read.  If it’s just a fun, quick read that I won’t want to reference later, it makes much more sense for me to go to the library.  Plus, our town library just re-opened after a major renovation, so it’s really nice.  I just discovered that I can reserve books online and though I actually did enjoy using card catalogs back in the day, I’m excited that the process has been streamlined! I reserved a book yesterday and picked it up today!
  • Visit second-hand stores.  I’ve only dabbled in them before.  I’m quite confident that Ed and I can both go without getting new clothes for the next six months, but Joshua will need new clothes.  There is a great second-hand baby store so I’ll have to hit it up.  Plus by the time summer’s here, Joshua can just wear a diaper!

I’m not really concerned about reining in our spending elsewhere.  We’re actually pretty good at living frugally, but I like that this challenge is going to push us further.

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Filed under Home, Living from Scratch, Sustainable Living

A Simple Toy

Today’s guest post comes from Laura of A Pug in the Kitchen.

While I was pregnant with my son, I spent a lot of time reading.  I read everything I could get my hands on concerning pregnancy, child-rearing, education, green lifestyles, the list was endless.  While I was reading, I picked up a few books on the marketing game that is played against parents.  Even though I read about it and knew what I was going to be up against, I am honestly surprised at how there are days when I feel sidelined by my choice to lead a simpler life. 

 

I’ve never considered myself to be tremendously materialistic or trendy.  The only reason why I bought a new pair of shoes this past fall was because the pair I was wearing at the time fell apart.  While I was walking.  I’m not concerned about appearing to have it all together.  It doesn’t bother me in the least bit to shop at garage sales and thrift stores.  I have no problem making my own meals and clipping coupons.  These things don’t bother me.  My husband works a typical day and I pick up a few hours a week tutoring math.  We garden, use cloth diapers, cook from scratch and recycle.  There aren’t grand vacations on our calendars and we don’t have the newest cars.  We spend time together as a family as much as we can and our ideal weekend is one that has no obligations so that we can stay at home, moving with the flow of the day.

When I registered for my baby shower, I was shocked at all the absurd products on the market geared toward making my life as a new mother “easier”.  Since I don’t like clutter and chaos, I eschewed the battery operated snot sucker for a tissue.  We bought 2 dozen cloth diapers and a laundry basket.  I didn’t have one bottle in the house since I planned to breastfeed until he was at least 1.  The toys were cloth or wood.  I felt good about my choices until my friend registered for her shower.  Then I started to compare.  This being the inherit downfall of society, I fell prey to its allure and started to feel bad for my son.

For the first time ever, I felt bad that my son’s toys were wooden and didn’t have bells and whistles as I watched the other baby play with an obnoxious toy that wouldn’t stop asking us to come out and play.  As our children got older, the toys got more involved and flashier.  I felt worse whenever a play date would end.  All this time, I had been going under the premise that I had survived just fine without fancy toys and had learned to role play and imagine without having all sorts of prompts and mechanized voices telling me what to do.  Suddenly, I wondered if my own growth had been stunted by not having a play laptop.

Being a simple parent isn’t what society is geared toward these days and if you choose to be simple in your lifestyle, people act as though you are depriving your children of all the joy life has to offer.  Of course, post-partum hormones play a big role in these feelings, but it is also due in part to whether or not you have found support.  I am gathering my community of mothers around me who understand why I’ve made my choices and encourage me.  We compare our diaper results and trade recipes for dinner.  Together we ooh and ahh over locally crafted puzzles.  And they helped me to see that my child is healthy and happy without all the hoopla.  Now, I realize when I come home from an overstimulating play date that he’s been stressed, not that he’s missing the toys.  Watching his face light up when he sees his favorite dump truck makes me realize that when it comes down to it, he’d rather be at home with me, playing with his puzzles or building with his blocks or chasing the dogs around the house. 

It’s taken me a while to reconcile both sides of the toy store.  Being a parent for me is now about finding balance.  We have lots of cloth and wooden toys, but we also have Tonka trucks made out of plastic.  My boy loves trucks; wooden, metal, plastic, and recycled plastic.  None of them do anything; they are powered by imagination and little hands guiding them down the path of their dreams.  So in the end, my home-birthed, cloth-diapered, local-foods-eating son is learning how to use the incredible mind he was gifted with and how to make his own fun instead of waiting for a toy to flash its pretty lights.  For me, this is a simple success.

Laura is an advocate of things green, natural and even a little crunchy after leaving her career as a Toxicology researcher when it became evident to her what was really going on behind all the pretty labels.  Today, she can be found in the garden, in the kitchen, playing with her 1 year old son, crafting or stealing a few moments to read.  Feeding people real, local and simple food that isn’t deceptively healthy is her passion.  Check out Laura’s blog A Pug in the Kitchen or follow her on twitter @Beansprouthair.  

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Filed under Living from Scratch, parenting, Sustainable Living

Go Back in Time to Combat Climate Change

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I’ll admit it: I almost didn’t participate in Blog Action Day.  I didn’t want to participate unless I had something valuable to add, and to be honest, I was feeling uninspired.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to climate change, even hopeless.  Lately, I’ve found it easier to think about the happy things in my life: family, friends, and our baby boy on the way. 

While I haven’t been thinking about climate change a lot lately, I haven’t dismissed my efforts to live sustainably.  Over the years of studying and teaching about climate change, I’ve developed my own philosophy on reducing carbon emissions.  After all the thought that went into changing my actions, it’s fairly easy to summarize the lifestyle changes I’ve made: Simple Living.  It all boils down to conservation, reducing waste, doing things by hand, cooking locally and from scratch, reducing exposure to chemicals, burning wood to reduce our oil consumption, turning the heat down or the air conditioner off, and living with less in general.

The more I live this lower-carbon lifestyle, the more in touch I become with my history.  My lifestyle is surprisingly similar to my great-grandmother’s.  Except, of course, that I write my thoughts and recipes in a blog and she wrote in journals.  A return to the simpler, more self-sufficient past has improved my carbon footprint.  More significantly, I feel that these changes to my life have made me happier.  Standing over a pot of bubbling jelly and listening to the plink of the jars sealing.  Kneading bread and slicing into the fresh loaf.  Sitting by a fire and knitting a scarf.  Snuggling up with my husband instead of turning up the heat.  Digging potatoes, pulling carrots, snipping greens, plucking tomatoes from the garden.  Raising pigs and turkeys for meat.  Elbow grease instead of bleach.  Planting apple trees.  Planning my future to include further steps toward self-sufficiency.  I started on this journey to reduce my carbon emissions, but I continue along the path because it is fulfilling.

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Filed under Living from Scratch, Sustainable Living