2009 – My Year of Sustainability

Our garden last year

Our garden last year

I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions because I don’t think you should only reflect on making changes once a year – especially at the most crazy and stressed out time of year. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that by the time gathered people bring up the discussions of New Year’s resolutions it is usually during a New Year’s Eve party and everyone is intoxicated. If I am going to implement a life changing resolution, I think I should probably be sober and coherent.

With that said, I have decided on focusing on something I have been putting off making real commitment too for the last several years – sustainability. Sure I have made a few changes here and there but as for constant change and a major shifting of thought I just keep making the excuse that I will start once I get that Earth home/passive home/solar home… that I plan on obtaining in the next few years.  It’s been two years since we started planning for a sustaining/low imprint/off the grid as much as possible home and while we are closer to making it a reality, it’s still a ways off.

If you think about it, moving is stressful. There is the packing, the financing, the transfers of kids, schools, activities, utilities, mail, routines, and moving your actual stuff. When it comes to unpacking it can take me over a year to find the right place for everything and even if I do a purge of stuff before moving, there is always a purge after. Knick-knacks don’t work in every house, curtains don’t fit or  go with the design of the architecture and so on. Why would I add to the stress of all that by totally changing what I do and how I do it? Conclusion: It would be healthier for my family, myself, and my environment if I develop new habits RIGHT NOW.

So here we go, 2009 is my year of sustainability. It’s about finding new and improved ways to do old things. It’s about developing healthy habits that are environmentally friendly, financially friendly, and most importantly self-sustaining. (Let me clarify at least on definition before I get started. When I say local, I mean made or grown as close to my community as possible, not just that the shop that sells it is local.)

Top things on my list are:

  1. Reduce our footprint. This means continuing purging things we don’t need, not buying more cheap crud that will only need to be replaced in a few years because it falls apart, replanting our garden every spring to fill our bellies with fresh veggies and using cloth napkins and towels instead of paper. I think I will find more and more ways to stop using so many disposable things as this becomes more of a habit.
  2. Shopping for food locally. I already hate Wal-Mart, Price Chopper, and Hy-Vee which are the chains that are close to my home. This is going to take research and perhaps some networking with other families and moms but I think once I find one or two locations I will find the people who will know where more are.
  3. Shopping for supplies locally. Again, I hate Wal-Mart and all their stuff is cheap and crummy anyway. This should also help to reduce our waste (smaller footprint!!)  since if we can’t find it locally (at least in a local shop) do we really need it? We probably need less than we think we do.
  4. Just because it is cheap or free DOESN’T mean I should bring it home. There some great sites and some lovely bloggers who tell you all about all the deals of the week, from Walgreen’s to CVS. Included on their lists are how to get products for free plus overages to buy other things. I did this religiously for a few months and ended up wasting 6 precious hours of every Sunday compiling my lists and shopping plus I still have a closet full of toothpaste I bought a year ago. Normally a toothpaste stockpile wouldn’t bother me because it will get used up eventually in a household of six people, but I swear it is the worst toothpaste ever and I had no problem throwing it into a donations collection container. It is better than nothing but I will never pay money for it and my family actually had their dental health decline since using this awful stuff. Now I watch the deals and check the sites and only get the stuff that is worthwhile, even if it means loosing a freebie and the extra overage cash. More is not always better.
  5. Shopping Goodwill more often for the kids clothes (and just not telling them where I got it if I have to). The teens are appalled at the idea of shopping Goodwill for clothing so I will just do it the sneaky way and wash it before I show it to them and not tell them where I got it. I wash all their new clothes before they wear them as it is so no harm no foul. I am already a big fan of thrift shops for my clothing and furniture needs.
  6. Last but not least, personal sustainability. I refuse to let other moms get to me. I don’t fit in with most working moms I know because I am not a convenience person and I sew, knit, approve homeschooling, loathe daycare, don’t care so much about trendy work clothes (and manicures and hairdos and lunches…), popular labels and so on. I don’t fit in with most stay at home moms I know because I work which means I only have limited hours I am available to do things such as after 10pm on weeknights and my weekends are spent running errands. I am getting to the age where approval of my peers really isn’t as important to me as it used to be. I feel well rounded and I am open to improving my personal, wife, and mothering skills on an as needed basis and I would rather spend my energy improving myself and being happy then seeking approval. Who needs that kind of stress anyway? Let’s support each other and celebrate our differences ladies! The Internet has let me find the groups of people I have things in common with (local & distant)  so I can let go of those I don’t.

There is the start of my list, and the start of my year. Wish me luck. Please feel free to share any links or tips you have that might help me acheive my goal!