Saturday, December 26, 2009

What we already do (and don't)

In today's world, it would be surprising to think that anyone out there is doing "nothing" to make their world better. So, in addition to our family profile, I thought it might be useful to highlight a few things our family already does (and doesn't), just to build the foundation for where we are beginning.

Like I said in my first entry...we killed the television.

The first year my husband and I met, we decided that advertising and "reality" T.V. was taking over anything that might be beneficial or useful about television. Plus, it cost too much, and we were trying to cut down on unnecessary expenses. So, we took the big step, knowing that it might take a few weeks to really get used to not being able to just walk in the house and click on the tube for some mind-numbing entertainment. I had the hardest time giving up the news. And there was the History Channel and PBS. But, in no time, it was like we'd never had it. Surprisingly easy. AND, not having the mainstream news on all the time was way less depressing. We DO have Netflix and still watch movies and our favorite T.V. shows that way (sans advertisements).

Next on the list was meat. When I got pregnant in 2006, we decided up front that we didn't want the little guy to be contaminated even before birth with hormones, antibiotics, etc. So, we started spending a little extra money to buy our meat at a local grocery that raises their own meat (elsewhere in the state). Not only does the meat taste better, it makes us feel better because we are supporting local business and know that the animals are being raised and slaughtered humanely. Our chicken is raised right here in town.

We have great recycling programs in Washington. So, we recycle pretty much everything we can. Plus, the waste removal companies charge you if you put out more than the allowable container...added incentive to recycle it!

A few other things we do to make the world a better place:
-we made donations to the local animal shelter for most of our Christmas gifts this year, and plan to make that a yearly tradition
-we don't shop for fun...the mall is not a "destination"...and we avoid it even when we go to the bigger cities; when we need things, we go out and search for them, and we tend to choose local or small shops over corporate giants (though, not always...I'm no saint - I'm a sucker for Nordstrom's shoe department)
-we have older cars and maintain them instead of buying new
-we have jobs that matter...which means we don't work for just the money, we work for the satisfaction of doing what we do
-we avoid fast food
-we buy the most natural cleaning and personal care items we can find in local stores
-we don't use paper towels (we replaced them with a few packages of cloth baby diapers and bought cotton napkins - one of the coolest "small steps" we took last year because it really has made a difference in how much paper we throw away - the down side: more laundry)
-we use stainless steel coffee mugs and water canteens

Now...we aren't perfect...there's lots of stuff we could be doing to improve (which is the whole point of this blog):
-we use too much paper and too many plastics
-we have been known to impulse buy
-we live in a small town with few shopping options, but, like every place, we have WAL-MART...we have been know to shop there (which I am not proud of and plan to stop this coming year!)
-we work too much sometimes and over-schedule ourselves on occasion
-we have more debt than necessary
-we eat "out of season" and don't always pay attention to where our food comes from
-we eat out fairly often
-we don't save enough
-we buy cheap, plastic crap made in other countries
-we use disposable diapers

So, there are lots of changes we can make to improve the world around us and make our lives simpler and better.

A few of my concerns about this project relate to habits (damn, it's hard to break them), money (I know it's an excuse, but it sure does seem that living better costs more - I guess we'll find out), and logistics (we are fairly isolated, so I worry about accessibility to other options).

I will mention one "hurrah" from yesterday. On Christmas morning, we ended up with a whole kitchen garbage bag full of recycle-able material and only one small pile of trash. Don't remember that happening when I was young.

Happy Holidays, and - Here we go! 6 more days until the challenge begins.

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