Tuesday, August 26, 2008

steps on the personal path to ethical consumption: fresh veggies, local beer and hand-knit socks

There was a collision in the blogosphere this morning. I'd been playing with the idea of listing the changes I'd made just in the last year, and No Impact Man posted 40 steps on the personal path to green, a list of easy first steps for individuals who want to make a difference. (He's a nice guy, but apparently numbers aren't his main thing -- the post says 50 steps and he repeats one, making a Hitchcockian 39 steps.) I've been doing some things on the list for years (or even decades):

  • Buy fewer things. Don´t buy on impulse. Ask yourself if the thing you're buying is something that you really need.
  • Eat less meat
  • Getting your fingers dirty by growing your own food--even if it is just some basil on your windowsill--is
    the quickest way change your thought patterns about other green issues.
  • Stopped using my dryer and use a clothes line or drying rack--and enjoy saving the cash.
  • Drive less
  • Fly less
  • Walk more, and walk *to* places.
  • THINK about how running the tap wastes water. THINK about how lights on in rooms not
    occupied wastes energy.
  • Avoid bottled water
  • Swear off plastic bags.
  • Don't waste (thanks, Mom)
  • Make a detailed budget and track
    spending habits
  • Switch to CFL lightbulbs, turn down your thermostat, and put a blanket on your water heater.
  • Stop your junk mail
I omitted the steps that were actually mind sets ("Recognize that happiness in
life is related to relationships with other people, not shopping")
or, irrelevant to me ("Pray").

Now I'll add the specific things I've added to my life since last summer:

  • supported my daughter and son-in-law in planning a green wedding and reception
  • joined Freecycle (we used it to donate the IKEA flatware purchased for the reception)
  • participated in Wardrobe Refashion for two months
  • switched our electric power source to wind
  • joined a CSA group for local produce
  • purchased about 80% of my produce at farmers markets
  • became more informed about ethical fashion options
  • informed other about ethical fashion options through this blog, online communities and a TV and radio interview
  • contacted dozens of manufacturers and retailers to ask about their green products and claims
  • finally made composting a habit
  • supported my local brewpub instead of buying bottled beer (most of the time)

Probably the best thing about all of this activity is that it has absolutely changed my life for the better. I have never felt deprived, or impoverished; on the contrary, my life is richer and more satisfying. It's probably the fresh veggies, local beer and hand-knit socks.

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