I spent a lot more time thinking through these personal goals that this post got really long. I think I’ll just discuss my New Year’s Resolution briefly here and then give it its own post.
My New Year’s resolution for 2018: Be a more conscious consumer.
By “conscious,” I mean my first focus is going to be on reducing my impact on the earth’s resources by NOT partaking (as much as I reasonably can) in products that can’t be re-used, composted, or repurposed, or in products that take a lot of resources to make. (Hence my specific goal of not buying any clothes.)
Next focus will be on supporting necessary products that support sustainability.
When I’ve obtained as much information as I need, we will be investing in some kind of tool that will help us compost our food waste.
I grew up in a small town. In a forest. In the 90’s, when every year the whole school would gather in the cafeteria and watch that video with the dinosaurs singing “Recycle, Reduce, Reuse!”
One of the first rules I learned at school was “Don’t litter.” Any kind of store besides the local grocery store was about 12 miles down the hill. I did not grow up consuming a lot. I didn’t even realize that I lived my life exceptionally close to the natural world.
I went to college in a town that shared very environment-focused views. I walked everywhere. I brought my own grocery bags with me (10 years before they even made that law!). I re-used plastic produce bags and bought my kitchen supplies at a thrift store.
Then when I moved to this larger town where I currently live, with more amenities, and started making money, I started to lose it. I fell into the consumerism pit. I bought nice clothes for work. I bought so many craft supplies. (I paid off my car!) I started clicking on advertisements on Facebook and getting the things. No, Stephanie. It’s a trap!
Sometimes the silliest things can bring you back to your original principles. Luckily I know some people in the world who really hold themselves to that which we should all strive for – a life where our existence as an individual and species makes as small of an impact as possible so others (human and not) can share the space. And I saw a video about straws and how devastating they are for the wildlife in our oceans.
And then I saw a video about microplastics. (That link isn’t the video I saw, but it explains some of it.) Basically, when we throw away synthetic textiles they don’t decompose. But as those polyester jumpsuits in the landfill start to come apart over time, tiny synthetic particles get washed away into…you guessed it…our oceans. Microscopic organisms eat the particles, bigger organisms consume those and collect more particles over their lifetimes, and the particles accumulate more as we go up the food chain.
And that’s when I became horrified.
Watching “Planet Earth II” hit the nail in the coffin for me. Now there’s no way I’m not going to do everything I possibly can to reduce my personal impact.
A childhood friend of mine is part of the Zero Waste movement – a movement where individuals reduce, reduce, reduce, then reuse, then recycle (or compost), in that order, with a goal of sending as little waste into the landfill as possible.
I’ve been checking out a number of Zero Waste blogs and Youtube videos. It’s very doable but requires a bit of work in the beginning. I’m excited to make this part of my life. I find the name “Zero Waste” a bit deceptive – it really is just about taking steps toward “Minimal Waste.”
I’m going to share some of the steps I’ve been taking and plan to take to reach this goal. (I created a very comprehensive checklist for my house – If you’d like me to share this let me know!)
One very big way I plan to reduce my impact this year is to not buy any clothes. New or used. I don’t need any new clothes, especially after buying all those clothes for my surgery recovery time. It takes a huge amount of natural and human resources to produce new clothing, and again can we mention the synthetic fibers in the ocean? So this year, no new clothes.
I bought one pair of flats last month for work and those are the only new shoes I will have this year. I bought some fancy secondhand sunglasses off of eBay and I’m pretty sure I’m set for life there.
I will reduce my purchasing of new craft supplies for work. I have all the supplies I will need, for several years probably, to write nice notes for my students on fancy paper.
I’m switching all of my bills to electronic statements. I took my name off the mailing list for junk mail.
So, that closet full of clothes? I don’t wear them all. I plan to actually repurpose some of them into produce bags for myself and maybe others if my sewing skills are up to par. Brian’s old ratty undershirts are going to be rags for when the kitties have an accident.
We got two lovely sets of cotton napkins for our wedding, which have already proven not only great for traditional napkin purposes, but for tea towel purposes.
Anything that comes in a jar will be repurposed to hold raw ingredients. I plan to reuse spice jars for spice mixes. Later I will buy spices in bulk.
I’ve been using my own water bottle for years! (It’s a plastic Camelbak, unfortunately.) I like the straw for drinking water while driving…but if I lose it I’ll replace it with a steel one.
I’ve been baking oil-free muffins in silicone baking cups for months. They are amazing!
I have invested in reusable feminine pads. Unfortunately they didn’t arrive in time for me to try them, so it’s one last cycle with conventional protection. My remaining feminine products will be donated to a local shelter.
Still to Do
SO much. Including establishing a compost system, figuring out a routine for buying in bulk in our town which is a bulk bin desert, and creating little car kits for eating out. There is a lot to be desired about how we handle our pet waste.
It seems overwhelming to move toward this lifestyle, but I think we can check something new off the list fairly often. Every check is a step that reduces our impact. Everything we do is important and we have to acknowledge the small steps we take. I’ll be updating on this regularly.
Have a lovely day!