Friday, February 20, 2009

APLS (Affluent People Living Sustainably)

For those of us who are actively concerned about the environment, (and I acknowledge even we are active in varying degrees), I submit this post. I write from the perspective of one who came of age in the 70's, when there was much less thought about our planet ever being worn out. We were teased for being health food nuts or commune-istas, who wore Earth Shoes and went without makeup. We prepared our baby food from scratch, carried tote bags made from recycled blue jeans and made granola . . . . and thought we were saving the planet. It was a time before plastic water bottles became de rigueur, and most items sold in America were still made in America. I subscribed to Mother Earth News and we talked about leaving Miami and moving to a farm in the mountains of North Carolina where we would raise our own vegetables and make butter like my grandmother was doing. We investigated solar homes and windmills and thought seriously about eliminating plastic from our household. Grandmom was a model of self sufficiency, with a good supply of oil lamps, a big garden, cows, fresh eggs from the neighbors and a compost heap. She recycled every drop of water, from dishpan and bathtub to garden, had a rain barrel and swapped local services, like butchering for the hay she grew. She preserved fruits and veggies and made jellies and pickles and homemade bread. I was raised in the shadow of a truly green granny. Somehow, it just didn't take hold like it should have. There were times, of course, when I made right decisions . . . . but everyday life and career and child raising became more of a priority than being green. No excuses - just the facts. I am excruciatingly proud of my daughter and son-in-law, who have opted to live the green life. They are conscious of every purchase and the impact it makes on our planet. As I read Kellie's blog I wish I had the opportunity to change some of the lifestyle choices I made over the past 30 years. I wouldn't have used so much plastic, or aerosol, or driven so many miles, or purchased as many foreign products. Woulda, coulda, shoulda . . . . The past is past, and I can only determine to make my new covenant from today forward. I will add baby steps to what I already do, to change my lifestyle. For those of us who wish to make an impact, here are a few of the first steps we can follow.
(These are the easy ones - copy and post this list.)
1. No more plastic water bottles. Use BPA-free, reusable water bottles. Purify your tap water at home. Recycle your Brita water filters at Whole Foods Market. Drink more water and less of what's packaged in plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
2. Shop less! Think of new ways to wear the same clothing. Buy natural fibers, wear 'em longer.
4. Rid your home/life of plastic bags. Take reusable shopping bags everywhere.
5. Begin using cloth napkins instead of paper towels and paper napkins.
6. Store food and leftovers in reusable dishes, not plastic. (Make 'em stop producing it!)
7. Buy/trade/barter for secondhand products you need & pass your stuff on to someone else.
8. Stay home one day a week, or carpool, use mass transit, walk, bike, save gas somehow. Make fewer trips, combine errands.
9. Buy local. Diminish the transport of products across country. Support small businesses.
10. Buy American.
11. Take your own reusable containers; reduce Styrofoam and plastic takeout trash. Can you think of a way to use one less plastic trash bag per week?
12. Adjust your thermostat by as little as 4 degrees.
13. Cook once, eat 3 times. Make enough to freeze and have it again. (I cook in BIG batches.)
14.Challenge yourself to reduce your trash. Buy minimally packaged stuff. Recycle.
15. Zone the heating of your home. Turn down the hot water heater. Line dry.
16. Make a budget for clothing, food, utilities, gas. It makes you think before you buy.
17. Re-gift. Pass along your favorite books, magazines, DVDs, add homemade cookies - voila!
18. Use just a little less: soap, t.p., shampoo, conditioner, right down the list. You may consume one less plastic container in each category, each year. It adds up!
19. Join a co-op, blog, or support group to keep you honest and inspire you to new heights.
20. Memorize the Depression-Era adage: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!
These are a few of the changes I made in 2008, and there are more to be launched this year. I now want to be the green granny. I will post my successes from time to time. I hope you'll visit My So Called Green Life, and enjoy Kellie's escapades, attempts and victories.
She's an inspiration!

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