Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Baby steps

A little while ago I was trying to pull myself out of Facebook's event horizon when a friend IM'd me. She said she had just checked out the View (I had shamelessly posted the link to this blog on my Facebook.) She also said that she and her hubby had been talking about making some of the "better decisions" like we've mention on the View, but that it seems so overwhelming.

Tell me about it! There are days when I think about how far we have to go that I get overwhelmed! In reality we've just gotten started on our journey of sustainability. We're like the proud parents toting around photos of our baby saying, "Oh look! Here's one from last Saturday when Junior didn't cry for a whole HOUR! Isn't that the cutest thing?" (Hint: If you don't see the connection, I had a blog post a few days ago, so proud of myself for spending MOST of a Saturday not using fossil fuels.) We must be pretty annoying to the people who are there in Sustainabilityland.

I know some folks who are there. You know, the ones who live completely off the grid, raise goats for cheese and maybe meat, heating their Earth ship homes with geothermal energy and drinking water from a hand-pumped well. You guys are awesome! But we aren't there yet. Maybe never quite will be.

But we're making some baby steps. And anyone can do what we've done. It's not really that much. The key is to start thinking about the choices we make. Not just about maybe buying a hybrid car; question whether you really need a new car at all. Or a second car. Or a first car. Question everything. Do you really need a microwave? My mother has lived for years without one; she recently broke down and got one just to heat up her hand-made rice bags. Her husband didn't even realize it was in the house for a couple of months.

If everyone in this country started thinking, just thinking, about the impact their choices made, that would be a huge step. Now imagine if we all took one simple step to reduce that impact, by, say, bringing reusable bags to the grocery stores instead of taking throwaway plastic ones home. That would be a hugely positive impact! And that's just one little thing we can all do.

My friend, by the way, told me that she's already shopping just the outer edges of the grocery store and avoiding anything processed, reducing the meat they eat (even toying with going Vegan), and that she bought a bunch of veggies from the farmer's market over the summer and froze them. They live in a condo but are going to try container gardening.

I gotta tell ya, that's an amazing start! Sure, you can look at all the things that you could be doing and get overwhelmed, but try looking at the things you are doing... and be impressed! If I were to go back five years and see where I am now, I wouldn't believe it nor see the path to getting here. Sometimes it's one foot in front of the other.... baby steps.

Today's tip: Start reading the labels on everything you buy at the grocery store. If you can't pronounce some of the ingredients, look up the unidentifiable ingredients online. Question whether you want to put such unidentifiable things into your body. Now take a look at the organic equivalent of the item you were about to buy. Ask yourself: Now why would they need to add all that other stuff to the non-organic version? If you're feeling ambitious, do a taste test!


  1. And to think I was doing this back when you were a boy! Reading LIVING MORE WITH LESS, gardening, canning, making yogurt & ice cream from raw milk, etc. I feel like there's so much more to contend with now, "phantom electricity" and having all these different communication devices...and now it gets into Time Deprivation, as well, trying to keep up. It's still baby steps, 30-some years later, I regret to say.

  2. Yeah, I remember many of those things from when I was a kid! I have fond memories of it all EXCEPT for the carob cookies (what was wrong with chocolate, anyway?)


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