Monday, August 20, 2007

(Some) Change is Good...

Change can be hard, more so for some of us than others. But some change is a lot easier than expected and can make a difference in a big way.

For a long time I have been a busy consumer-I LOVED shopping till I was dropping (lots of cash and then some plastic), running the roads just for fun and to get out of the house, buying “time saving” things for the house/for my life which ended up taking up more time when they broke down/needed cleaning/needed storage. I used to tell myself “You’re not as bad as _________. You deserve a treat for all the hard things you have to do.” (i.e. work at jobs I didn’t like, do chores I didn’t want to do, cheer myself up after being bombarded with media about disasters worldwide). I am also a very visual person-if I see beautiful things I want beautiful things. I feel very deprived when I window shop which is why I avoid it at all costs. Window shopping=depriving experience and wasted time for me.

I have been, in more recent years, a sort of on again/off again simple/frugal/green person. I suppose, like most things in life, change is slow in coming when habits are deep. In looking back over recent years however, I found that I’ve made some positive changes that are fulfilling/easy enough that I won’t go back to the way things were before. Here’s a list of some of them:

*Composting-It’s easy, quick and free. I normally am a fair-weather composter (composting between late spring and late fall) but this year I want to be more diligent about composting even in the winter months.

*Not using shopping as a recreational sport-My parents would love to hear me say this! I was the kid who saved only to spend. I would blow hundreds of dollars on back-to-school clothes/holiday party clothes/Friday night dance clothes/just because I felt like it clothes. Because I’m so visual it’s veeeerrrrryyyy hard for me to “see and not touch” or in my case “see and not buy”. So the best thing for me to do is stay out of the stores unless I REALLY need something (which honestly, isn’t very often). If I do need something I try to ask around my circle of family/friends-very often someone has the something I need and is happy to let me have it. I also check, ebay, and frequent the local thrift shops. BEWARE: Thrift shopping can be just as addictive as regular shopping. While I think of it as a form of recycling (I bring in products I don’t need and buy things I want), it can also get out of hand if I am buying a ton of stuff I really don’t need just to satisfy that “gimme” urge.

*Greening up home cleaning products-I get really angry when I see all the commercials for antibacterial cleaners/room fresheners/and products that promise to completely annihilate any living organisms in the home. While cleanliness may be next to godliness, our bodies also need a certain amount of “bad” bacteria to build up a resistance. Room fresheners (I used to use with abandon!) are simply chemicals masking odors, and are usually stinky too. Studies have found a link between “over clean” homes and children with increased allergies and respiratory difficulties. There are some great non-toxic cleaners on the market, and making your own is even better. Nothing, in my opinion beats the smell of freshly baked goods or the dissipating scents of lavender or lemon coming from my little essential oil burner.

*Cooking-I never thought I would say this, and perhaps it really is just a passing phase, but I am really starting to enjoy cooking at home. I used to detest it-all the work inhaled in what seemed like five minutes, mountains of dishes awaiting you after you’ve eaten, all the planning, organizing and buying of food items…but strangely enough, this summer I’ve really enjoyed my time spent in the kitchen. In fact, if I don’t cook for a few days (like when we were away on vacation) I sort of miss it, along with the (mostly) healthy eating habits we have when we are at home. By making homemade food, we support local farmers because we try to buy most of our produce at the local farmer’s market/organic farm stand. We also make our own bread and that has become a bit of a fetish-if we don’t make it neither of us can stand to eat store bought anymore. Once you switch, betcha won't go back!

*Buying local-I’m sure you’ve heard it a bazillion times already, but buying local is really good for the environment and for you! Think of all the time and fuel spent delivering things way across the country (and world for that matter) to your home town grocery store. Buying locally is good for three main reasons: 1) it reduces the amount of fuel used which is always good for the environment 2) it supports local farmers and backyard growers 3) it tastes better and is better for you. Fresh is best!

I’m sure there are a few more changes we’ve made or are in the process of making but I think this post is quite long enough! If you are interested, I’d love to hear about some of the things YOU are doing to make the planet and yourself a little healthier…comment below and let us know about your good changes!


Wisconsin Crunchy Mama said...

We have started doing all of those things you talked about. We also joined a CSA, not sure if you have a local one there or not but you can check at

I used to keep my home cluttered with things my mother and my mother-in-law, thought I should have. I've gotten over that. Like you say, having "stuff" means spending time and energy maintaining it, and I just don't see the pay off. From now on if I don't absolutely love it, it goes to goodwill, free cycle, or maybe into a garage sale.

Good for you, keep it up!

Wisconsin Crunchy Mama said...

Oh! I just thought of something else new for us. We are taking a vacation next month, and instead of driving from Wisconsin to Washington, we'll be taking the Greyhound! Just think if more people did that what an impact it could have.

ChicChick said...

Thanks for posting! Those are all great reminders...we do have a local CSA and chose not to participate this year, but am seriously considering it next year. We go to the local farmer's market almost every week so I figured I'm still supporting a local business, but a CSA might be cool too! I worried that I might not be able to keep up with the items we got in-did you have that problem?

I know what you mean about family feeling you "need" certain things in your house! I'm trying to break out of that pattern myself.

AND I love your idea of taking greyhound-great idea! I bet you will have a much more interesting road trip than if you drove straight through, and might see some places you didn't expect to see!

Wisconsin Crunchy Mama said...

Sometimes I find I don't like or use certain things that come in the CSA box, and that bothers me a bit. But I do compost it, give it away, or let the chickens have it (fennel comes to mind, and egg plant).

The other draw back is if you are gone, you miss out and yet you still paid for it. We missed one box this summer. If you're just doing the farmers market it's no money out of your pocket if you're not there to buy stuff.

Those are the realistic disadvantages, and the only ones I can think of. So yes, definately something to keep in mind.

The bigger picture of the CSA is that if the farmer has a bad year (this year we have some drought issues), they can make it thru to the next year because of the CSA. If they are only selling at the farmers market and they have nothing to sell ~ they'll go under. I'm just scared enough for our farmers that I choose the CSA.

It's not always the most cost efficient though...I agree.