Saturday, May 7, 2011

Time for Change

Hi there and welcome to my blog about my progress in changing the ways of my family for a better, more simple life. If you know me then you know that this is a huge project for me - not because it's a big change that requires a lot of thinking and planning, but because I have very little extra time in my life between my full time job and my 3 kids. Ultimately, I am looking to eliminate or seriously minimize a few key things in my family's life: trash, recycling, plastic, clutter and just in general, "stuff".

Let me give you a little back ground, in case you don't know me.

I live in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. This is important to know because the community that I live in is pretty darn conscious... for the most part. I work at a co-op, so it's a lot easier for me to make this change in my life and find support. Granted, most people roll their eyes at me but it's usually all in fun. So far, I've felt very supported and run up against minimal resistance. My hope is that more people could be inspired to do the same, but simply accepting what I'm doing is a good start.

I have 3 kids aged 4, 11 and 13. They all go to a Waldorf (Steiner) school and they currently do dance, drumming and baseball after school. The older ones are also becoming more social, so that adds a lot of driving to my list of things to do. The school that they go to is important to note because of the importance of nature in their education. This makes it easier for my kids to let our lifestyle at home filter over into their every day life, just like it's easier for me to take it to work.

We have always be environmentally conscious. What we are moving towards is the stuff that we have known needs to happen, but never really had the drive to do all the way. We compost, recycle, reuse and buy mostly only environmentally friendly things... but just a few weeks ago, I realized that we could be doing SO MUCH MORE.

It all started when I took my 13 year old to go see the documentary Bag It at the Project Native film festival. It inspired us to really start eliminating plastic from our lives. This was do-able; we already use stainless steel water bottles and reusable coffee cups, as well as stainless steel lunch boxes and cloth bags. However we were reminded why we do these things and how we really need to stop letting random plastic infiltrate our lives.

Then, a few weeks after that, I came across this video about a family living a zero waste lifestyle. It must have been just what I needed, because after that, my decision was made. We were going to work towards living a zero waste life. I decided that by the end of this summer, we would attempt to eliminate at least 1/3 of the "stuff" in our home and stop buying anything new (with the exception of necessities that are unavoidable, like food of course). It's all already out there, already produced, packaged and purchased from the large corporations... why not just find the stuff not being used any more and give it new life?

I spoke with my partner and shared the videos with him. He agreed that we could do a lot more than we do and he said he would join me on my mission. We spoke about how probably 90% of our trash comes from food packaging alone, and how it was time to change that. Then I spoke with my older kids and showed them the videos that inspired me. My oldest son was pretty much already on board, but a little nervous to lose some of the fun snack food that we eat. My daughter, the 11 year old, well... I have faith that she will pull through. See, she is a bit of a pack rat and really likes "stuff". So then I showed them The Story of Stuff, which they mostly knew about already... but I think it helped. My daughter said that even though they used a lot of really big words that she didn't understand, she still "got" it. Let's see...

Well, that should give you a little idea of where I'm coming from as you read this blog. There is one more thing that happened a few days ago that is important. When you make a fairly big decision that involves so much change, of course you have moments of "what am I doing?"... but luckily for me, some local bear got into our trash a few days ago and dumped our trash all over our yard, so I got to avoid that "what am I doing" thought because I couldn't believe how much waste there was. I also couldn't avoid the embarrassment of how much trash we had on display. Let me tell you, there is nothing like seeing 2 months worth of trash spread out all over your yard. (Yes, 2 months worth... we don't really pay our trash bill often, but the good thing is that we do take a while to fill the trash can). That bear ripped open every trash bag and guess what? My estimate of 90% of our trash being food packaging was right.
And now, it's time to change that.

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