...the change we want to see...

I think it was Ghandi who encouraged us to be the change we want to see in the world. I am struck by the fact that I am surrounded by folks who are doing just that. And Jonathan and I are trying to do our part as well. Lifestyle is so much about habit, and we are working hard to examine our habits and reflect on whether or not we can make them more consistent with our beliefs and priorities. We're not making any major commitments right now, just reflecting and "tweaking." More than anything, I'm realizing that all of these issues are interrelated and that we're moving in the right direction by addressing them together. Here's what's happening on a few fronts...

My friend Sarah is a great writer and, fortunately for the world, her hobby is cooking and her passion is local food. Sarah's blog, Recipes for a Postmodern Planet, is an approachable, practical journal of her efforts to cultivate local food culture in her kitchen. And the coolest thing of all is that she's my friend (real life, not just a virtual link or connection somewhere) and invites me over to try things like Haagen-Daz-be-damned ice cream. We pretended like it was for the kids...

Anyway, in addition to rekindling this old friendship (not that WE are old), I've been inspired by Sarah's work and her contributions to our community via her writing. And recently, Mo started sharing her efforts to go green, ethical, and counter-culture on her blog, Learning to Be Maladjusted. Now, this is the person who taught me what a recycling household really looks like. I personally have witnessed (on multiple occasions) her soaking and peeling the labels off bottles, jars, and cans-- so that the paper can go in the paper recycling and the containers in their place. This is the woman who introduced me to Freecycle-- a real lifesaver to us while in Edinburgh. So if she is initiating a new season of maladjustment, I am definitely along for the ride. I have a lot to learn from this sister-from-another-mother.

Recently Jonathan pointed me to an article that discussed the fact that switching to a vegetarian diet reduces my ecological imprint more than switching to a hybrid vehicle! That is impressive and more than a little intimidating. It's one thing to think about my 'footprint' while driving, but quite another to think about it when the fork meets my mouth. Perhaps venison from Papa can help us make a transition.

About ten years ago I really got into the Voluntary Simplicity movement. I did a lot of reading and we made some significant lifestyle changes. One of my favorite reads was Karen Logan's Clean House, Clean Planet. Inspired by her, I started making our cleaning supplies. I remember telling Jonathan that I didn't want to have cleaning supplies as a hobby-- I just wanted to sort it out and have it over and done with. Now-- ten years later, I can't even estimate how much money we've saved. I also feel really good about reducing the number of toxins in our home.

I made a good friend while in Scotland. Her name is Betsy Reed and she is working to help Scotland get certified as a Fair Trade Nation. I'd heard of Fair Trade before, but she helped me understand how vital it is for the lives it impacts. Jonathan and I now try to make sure our "luxury items" -- coffee and sugar in particular-- are Fair Trade. Related to this issue is the idea of organics and the local food movement. Sarah has really inspired me here, and I even made my own, admittedly modest, Eat Local Challenge. Jonathan and I have also tried to include as many organic products as possible in our diet, especially things high in fat or prone to high pesticide use, such as the "Dirty Dozen." We've been giving Julian organic products from the beginning. We still get organic milk for him, and we're making the switch to raw milk now that he's a little older.

Of course it's really interesting to go through this process while the economy is in a recession and we are living on a fluctuating income. That being said, some of these changes-- like eating less meat-- save us money. Others, like supporting Fair Trade and Organics, cost significantly more. I understand that "cost" is a broad concept, as illustrated thoughtfully in this 20 minute video (well worth the time!). But "cost" is also the in-my-face reality of dollars and cents in our checking account. Basically, it's a balancing act for us now-- our consumer ethics on one hand and our financial realities (opportunities!) on the other.

1 comment:

  1. After reading this ... I once again realize that you are seriously VERy smart and amazing - There are very few people in the world that I honestly envy and you are close to the top of my list.
    MElissa Minish-James