Saturday, 17 December 2011

Long post on my environmental conscience and a new year's resolution

I probably haven't spoken enough about the fact that I try to make environmentally conscious choices. I am not perfect, but I am constantly trying to improve myself. But I'm not one of those militant greenies that's always attacking people that aren't doing their bit for the environment. Of course it really upsets me when I see rubbish left lying around or shop assistants using 5 plastic bags to pack 10 items, but I just don't have it in me to go hassle others to do better. Many people don't genuinely realise that what they're doing is having a negative impact on the world, and sometimes the best thing you can do is to set an example, or to just talk about what you do, rather than criticising and attacking others for what they do/don't do.

Probably my environmental conscience is stronger than I realise: after all I stop and think about EVERYTHING that has to go in the bin. I call it Mother Nature guilt...
I am very concerned about not creating too much landfill; and I do try to use and reuse before I recycle. Having said that, some days the house is so cluttered that I have to clear out and make a choice between being kind to Mother Nature and being kind to myself... So I end up having big bags of goodies for the op-shop, and lots of bits and pieces going directly from our "useful box" to the recycling bin. After all, the kids are 2 and 4, there are just so many toilet rolls, bottle lids, jars, containers you can use for craft...

Clearly we are buying or receiving too many things, if I am so concerned about our impact on the planet. But even cooking from scratch, you still need to purchase everything in packaging that will end up either recycled or in landfill. My dream would be self-sufficiency, but we are still so far away from it... I need a bigger block of land where I can grow all our fruit and veg and grains... One can only dream...

In the meantime, I am being very aware of our choices. These are not things that I've done from day 1, I'm still working on improving myself and our family's choices.
If I'm buying staples at the supermarket, I check the country of origin and purchase the one that has travelled the fewest miles.
I never purchase out of season produce.
I purchase the items that have the shorter lists of ingredients and the least amount of chemical additives (this is both a health concern and a stance against the manufacture of dubious chemicals).
I buy at farmers' and local market frequently and I'm trying to fully boycott big supermarket chains.
At the moment I'm using biodegradable nappies and cloth wipes (have a full stash of cloth nappies for Casi but haven't been able to keep up with the washing for a couple of months).
We frequent op-shops, which is just a great way to buy and to teach kids the value of re-using and donating/passing on to others. And our money is going to good causes.
We don't buy battery operated devices and limit the use of those already in existence in the house.
I use natural or environmentally friendly products in the home; D uses Jif to clean the toilets, and that is the only harsh chemical in the house. Except for a can of Mortein that gets used once every 6 months when there's a redback hiding in a tight spot in the garden. All other insects get the Vegemite jar treatment (put them in the jar, release them in the garden) or the fly swat, but as a European who grew up in a country devoid of highly venomous arachnids, I do get very edgy when I see redbacks near my kids' play areas!
And whenever I make a choice I'm not completely satisfied with, I always buy more edible plants or sow more seeds: I figure, if I'm adding so much to the landfill, at least I'm also adding more oxygen in the air :)
archive photo: my 2007 bean crop :)

But remember how this year has been one of deeper understanding? I decided to really put my money where my mouth is and be true to my beliefs.
So for Sosi's birthday party I decided I wouldn't purchase any disposable cutlery or plates or cups, as we'd done in the past, instead I purchased dishwasher-safe plates/cups that will be reused at our next parties. I really wish I'd purchased an old dinner set from an op-shop, but one also has to think about the practicality of transporting lots of crockery to a park for a 4 year old's party. As I said, I'm still a work in progress, one day I'll be able to throw a fully environmentally friendly party :)

And the other big thing is Christmas. Now, I'm not going to get into the whole Christmas thing in this post, suffice to say that for D and I it's just a day to spend with the family. But for the rest of our families it is a big deal, and we still feel an obligation to be giving presents.
But I'm tired of feeding capitalism and purchasing useless trinkets just for the sake of it.
So this year we are making food hampers. Mostly goodies that I will bake. And many yummy things purchased from the markets. So local farmers/producers/crafters will be getting our money.

But next year I want to be better. Next year I want to make the kids and I more clothes. And I want to make sure we buy less and less. All this stuff we end up needing to donate makes me really think that we purchase far more things than we actually need. And I also want to rip out half the grass in our backyard and grow edibles there! Still negotiating that one with D....

What about you? 
Do you feel guilty every time you throw out something that could be reused?
Do you have an environmental new year's resolution?

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas Sara! I just realised that I haven't caught up with your blog this week. I admire you for your drive and passion to live consciously. Your meaningful approach to life is inspiring and beautiful. Much love to you. xx