Monday, October 15, 2007
Blog Action Day!
When reading Bazu's blog a week or so ago, I learned about Blog Action Day -- a day when bloggers across the globe unite and agree to blog about a common issue. This year's issue is environmentalism.
Today's the day, so where to begin?
A couple of years ago, I was very fortunate to land a position teaching preschool at a nature center. Although this position had both pros and cons, I did have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the environment -- both the immediate environment in which I live, and the greater environment of our planet. I learned the power of my choices -- I could choose to continue living my life the way I was, or I could choose to make some changes. As cheesy as it sounds, I chose change.
Why? Because I could already see, in many small ways, what we are doing to our environment. I have noticed that our winters in Minnesota just aren't that cold any more, and we don't get all that much snow. Our summers seemed to be getting hotter and hotter, and we often experience drought conditions.
I also saw changes that I needed to make in my own life. I was overweight, tired a lot, sick a lot, wrestled with some skin problems, and just generally never really felt like I was at my best.
I stepped back and reexamined many of my personal choices. Boy, did I change.
I became a strict vegetarian, enjoying dairy products and eggs as occasional treats. I learned a whole new way of cooking based on fresh, hopefully locally-grown produce, mostly whole grains, tofu, beans, nuts, and other tasty foods that barely graced my kitchen in the past. I cut down on sugar, refined grains, and WAY down on processed foods. I started shopping almost exclusively at my local co-op, knowing that I would have to think less and read labels less if I let them do some of the initial product choosing for me. I lost almost 40 pounds, and have kept the weight off for over two years now.
I started walking. I'd always enjoyed walking for fun, but I started to see walking as both enjoyment and transportation. Places I would have driven before, I started walking to. Little by little, I drove my car less and less, prefering to walk, bike, or take the bus. Last fall my car broke down, I donated it to charity, and I haven't looked back. I am extremely fortunate that I live, work, shop, see my friends, worship, and entertain myself all within a couple miles from my home. I'm in my community more than I ever have been, and I love it.
I started thinking harder about how I choose to spend my money. I buy products that are manufactured in a sustainable way, that use minimal packaging, and that have a low impact on our environment. I use mostly Seventh Generation cleaning and laundry products, shop from the bulk bins at my co-op whenever possible, buy fair-trade coffee, and avoid plastic as much as I can. I purchase recycled toilet paper and recycled paper towels (the two rolls a year that I use!) I purchase recycled computer paper, and refill my printer ink cartridges. I try to frequent restaurants in my city that cook with locally-grown, organic ingredients, that offer recyclable and/or reuseable to-go containers, and that shy away from disposeable napkins, plates, cups, and serving utensils.
I started thinking about what I waste. I switched to cloth napkins at home, use rags for cleaning (instead of paper towels,) and purchased a washable microfiber duster instead of using disposeable cloths. I save paper that has only been used on one side for scratch paper. I use cloth bags to haul my groceries and to protect my produce and bulk grocery items. I try to avoid throwing things away -- I carefully consider new purchases, often spending a little more money on a higher quality item which will last much longer. I take care of the things I own, and donate items I no longer find a use for to charity. I use rechargable batteries and compact fluorescent lightbulbs. I refill my pens. I refuse a plastic lid and a cardboard jacket when I purchase coffee from a coffee shop. I don't take a plastic lid or a straw when I buy a cup of pop. I take one paper napkin (as opposed to eight million!) when I dine out.
I know, despite all of the changes I've made, I'm just not done. I want to do more, and sometimes feel stuck -- stuck in a system that is working against me, stuck talking to people that don't want to listen, stuck taking baby steps when I want to move farther, faster.
Hey, but this whole Blog Action Day thing is pretty darn exciting -- it's inspiring to see a gazillion more people out there who feel the way I do. Go check out other people's blogs, and see what else we're doing to take better care of our environment.