I've finally picked up the book No Impact Man, by Colin Beavan, and started reading it. It is an entertaining read and Beavan brings up some thought provoking points. Every one of us can, and should, decrease our impact on our environment, but how far can we take it? What can we live without to lower that impact? Over the past 3-4 years, as I have worked to build a financially secure life for me and my boys, I have learned a thing or two about what is necessity and what our family can live without. I also know it takes continued tweaking to refine this simple life of ours.
My goals are twofold: 1. lower our impact on the environment. 2. Build a simple life that allows more time for being a family together. Both of these work beautifully together. The bottom line for achieving both goals is to buy/own less stuff. Economically, environmentally, and, yeah, spiritually, it makes sense for my family and the life I am building to think carefully about where our money goes, how much stuff we bring into our lives, and how much of it is disposable or stuff that actually enriches our lives for the long haul.
In case you haven't read my last post, I recently ditched my microwave. But there are other things that are in the typical household that you won't find in mine either.
The ex loved using paper towels. I used to tell him he needed to plant a forest for all the trees he was killing off. I used to buy a roll of recycled towels every now and then to keep on hand, but eventually found myself no longer using them at all. We dry our hands on a hand towel. I have plenty of reusable rags for large clean up jobs and washing windows. It is a small expense off our grocery budget as well.
If you would like to make your own reusable paper towels there are many tutorials out there, including this one. You can also purchase them through Etsy vendors.
My students, and some adults, freak out when I tell them I don't have a TV, and haven't had one in years! These days it is easy to watch a movie on the computer or tablet. We do subscribe to Netflix. But my kids aren't exposed to all those exploitative commercials selling the latest gadgets and cereal jam packed with sugar. We also aren't sitting in front of a screen for hours. One of the common questions I get asked is what do we do if we don't have TV. I have to laugh at this one. Uhm, read a book. Go outside. Move your body and/or your mind. I have four children (two grown) who love to read and who appreciate the outdoors. My youngest son couldn't think of anything to put on his Christmas list this past December because he hadn't been inundated with what he should want. He just turned six. I think this is amazing and good.
A Cabinet Full of Toxic Chemicals
The cleaning and laundry isle at the grocery store is full of items sold to make our homes sparkle and our laundry smell fresh. But the truth is they often contain ingredients that are harmful and are packaged in throw away containers that pile up in the landfill. Plus, you don't need five different kinds of cleaners to keep your home clean. I mainly use one cleaner I mix up in a reusable spray bottle consisting of a few squirts of castile soap and 10-20 drops of essential oils. Lately I have been using cinnamon, tea tree, lavender, and rosemary oils. I use this on the kitchen counters, bathroom sinks, even in the toilet. As for my laundry, I have been mixing up my own borax free laundry detergent for some time now.
*Note* I can not link to my post for the laundry detergent because it has been deleted and/or lost in cyberspace. Not sure why or how, but I will put it up on the blog again when I can.
Coffee Filters/ Disposable Coffee Cups
This includes cups obtained through stops at your local Starbucks. I make my own coffee using a coffee press, no filters needed, and drink in my favorite coffee mug before I even leave the house. Sometimes I will fill a glass jar with coffee and warm it up at work. My go to travel mug needs replaced, so there is no consuming on the go right now, but I have gotten into the relaxing routine of getting up early and savoring my coffee before the rush to get out the door happens. It's a much better way to set the day than by juggling hot coffee on the way to work and spilling it on my lap. My compute these days is only a short 7 minutes anyhow.
There are other things I just have never seen the necessity in, like dryer sheets for instance, and plastic water bottles. And there are things I don't use often. Disposable razors are one of them. I rarely shave. My legs get neglected all winter. Then there are the things I may have to get used to going without, like my dryer that is on it's last bit of life. It is going on 14 years old and when it dies I'm not sure I am gong to replace it. I have my clothes line. I'll just have to readjust how I do laundry. Now, the washer is another thing. If it dies, it is getting replaced...somehow.
My point is, you can live a simpler life and there are many things you just chuck into your cart that you can live without if you just think it through for a moment. That list of things may be different for you than it is for me and my family, but it is important to take the time to eliminate these things from your life to make room for a simpler, happier, less cluttered life and decrease your impact on our beautiful planet.