Monday, August 17, 2009

Simple in my Own Way

Photo of the jars of red and yellow bell peppers and tomatoes dried recently. These small jars represent 10 pounds of tomatoes and 15 large peppers.

I enjoy reading others' blogs about their efforts to lead sustainable, "simple" lives. Some of these people live in city apartments, some live on acreages, some live on a city lot.

Most are not hesitant in saying that this lifestyle definitely puts them out of step with neighbours and even family. I remember how upset my parents and Tony's Mum were when we became vegetarians. They were not only convinced we'd shrivel up and blow away, they felt threatened, as if our decision was somehow a criticism of how they had fed us.

Of course it was nothing of the sort, we had concerns about the taking of other lives to support our own, but it was as much an issue of health as anything. Neither of us had ever had robust health, and we wanted to improve on it.

We've had this reaction from other people, much more recently, about our interest in preserving our environment. Some people take it as a personal criticism. I can understand that. I look back on the way we lived in the past with some regret, but the important thing is that, however we lived in the past, we take steps now to do what we can to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Very few people can adopt a completely sustainable lifestyle. Someone commented the other day that it's not possible to do so. Well, it is possible to do so, but it involves a large lifestyle change, and to do so as a culture it would involve a great reduction in human population, and probably much less material comfort than we have in the affluent west become accustomed to. Steps our cultures are not going to take without painful motivation, or maybe even force.

Technology can (and probably will) be brought to bear on the problem of sustainability eventually but right now the challenge is to go forward as individuals. This brings us to look for new, insignificant perhaps, ways to lighten our footsteps.

This year the "going forward" part (for us) has been to raise some of our own food, encourage others in the neighbourhood to do the same, buy as much of our food locally as we can, preserve locally grown fruit and vegetables for winter consumption, eat far less meat, use no disposables, bring home as little plastic as possible, thrift when we can, recycle diligently, use Freecycle and drive very little. I'm happy to say that the last fill-up of our Ford pickup lasted six months. We drove less than 600 miles last year.

Even though it might seem so this way of life doesn't feel like penance or deprivation. I find it rewarding and personally satisfying. It's interesting and fun. It keeps me on my toes. I'm looking for ways to do more. How have you reduced your footprint? Any ideas to share?


Anonymous said...

We will be in chili powder for eons. You should see the pepper jungle Sweetie has created this year.

We have only perennial flowers. Last summer we planted two two year old asparagus plants which shot up 3 good spears which we let go to seed to ensure asparagus for years to come. We just had a entire meal of tomatoes of our own.

We do the cloth bag thing or no bag when out shopping.

Our vice is car. Life out here is about getting in car most times than not. We did however drop to one car when we moved here three years ago and that has not changed.

Anonymous said...

I've been hanging my clothes to dry for ages. This year, DH took our washer off the septic tank, so we can use that grey water for watering the back yard. We normally have had a decent garden (except for this year :( don't know what happened) We try to grow, preserve, can, freeze rather than purchasing a lot of prepared food stuffs. I do have an issue with the dehydrator...I know I save on the food but feel it takes a lot of power to dry not sure it's cost effective or even "greener".

We've reduced the amount of meat we eat ~ smaller portions and at least 1 maybe 2 nights a week with no meat.

I've started unplugging all the things with little glowing lights. I don't mess with the stereo and tv, but everything else is fair game...all those chargers. Argh. If I can see a light at night, it doesn't need to be on.

We've consolidated our trips to town. I work in town, so can stop by the store on my way home. I run errands at lunch and we only go to the big towns every other week or as the kitty food situation dictates. We buy in bulk from Sams.

Recycling is a little more tricky as there is nowhere close to recycle. We compost the green stuff, flatten the cans, don't buy bottled water or much of anything that comes in a plastic bottle. I use the junk mail in the fireplace for starter fuels, and we bust all the boxes down before trashing them so they can be picked out of the dumpster for recycling at the sanitation department.

We recycle household goods, clothing and whatever is still useable through the local mission outlet.

It is WORK to think "green", but we're trying to reduce our footprint one area at a time.