What does 'Living Green' mean to you?
To me, it is far more than simply bringing your own bags ot the grocery store and recycling. It is truly a way of life. It is being concious of what you use, how you use it...what you buy and where you buy it. Sadly, on my green path I have noticed that Living Green can be expensive at times. To me, it shouldn't be...Living Green is synonymous with being frugal. Spending less, buying less, using less.
We recycle everything we can. We reuse everything we can also. Its not that hard to do, really :) if its still good, don't toss it! We are a big fan of hand-me-downs, and pretty much always shop at thrift stores. The only thing I buy new is socks and underwear and occasionally shoes. I find more quality clothing in thrift stores in super condition that if I went and bought at the store, I couldn't afford! Plus, why not reuse clothes that are in good condition? We recycle clothes through the kids, and when they are no longer wearable they get donated(if they are still useable) or as of late they go in the rag pile. I am also saving shirts to make cloth napkins out of...but that is another post! :) Even the Hubby gets hand-me-downs from a woman he works with! Her hubby is a bit of a clothes freak and gives Hubby his *old* (barely even WORN) clothes from major name brand stores. Hubby looks like a million bucks! ;)
We do the usual bringing of our own bags to stores, and I used to not take plastic bags for produce(I have cloth produce bags that I forget to bring...) but my grocery store started using compostable bags so I take them now. I save them and use them for bread bags when I make bread. We have chickens for eggs, grow what we can, and if we can get local, or as local as possible...we do. We try to be conciencious shoppers...you do the best you can with what you have :)
We are also as green as possible around our house. All our lights are CFL, all major appliances are Energy Star, and things like computers, TV's, etc are on power strips that are shut off when not in use. Anything not used regularly is unplugged, we don't use air conditioners, space heaters, etc. We are in the process of removing old (nasty) carpet and linoleum and replacing it with greener options, wool or cotton area rugs, etc.
Being self sufficient has become more important to me over the last few years. After the *Ice Storm* which left us without power for a week, I took a good look at how we managed. We did ok, though we did need to rely on a generator for some things. It was an interesting experience and showed me that though we are pretty basic here, we still rely on many modern conveniences. It also drove home my desire to live even more simply and frugally. There is so much wasted in our society and it KILLS me to see it.
Being frugal...this is a tough one. Though I would love to always support local businesses and avoid warehouse stores et al, how sad is it that you must have money to live green and local! Not always, but sometimes. We support local businesses as much as possible, even if it costs a little more, when we can. But there are times we can't and we head to warehouse hell. I am working on trying to make it so I do not have to do that (oh the day when I never have to enter a warehouse/walmart store again...sigh.) but sometimes what needs to be done for the good of my family will outweigh avoiding hell-stores. But, at least it is on my mind and I teach my children about it. In these times when money is pretty much an issue for most people I know, being frugal is becoming much more popular. Even if it is simply giving pause before you make a purchase and see if you are purchasing out of need or want...this has been a big lesson for me. I only purchase out of need at this point. There are no want-purchases. I will say, it has been incredbly freeing! Not only am I not supporting BigBusiness by buying unnecessary crap, but I have less of that *crap* around my house! :) Plus, a penny saved is a penny earned... :)
Bartering is a lost art that really should make a comeback. I think bartering is the best and will do so whenever I can. I have one neighbor that trades me cereal for the kids for some of our eggs. My other neighbor gets eggs and extra veggies from our garden, and she is going to give us all the peaches we can pick off her tree come Sept. I have another neighbor up the strees who has apples that I am going to ask to pick as I know they let alot go to compost. A friend of ours with huge gardens always sends me greens, and he gave us 20+lbs of blueberries and 25lbs of pears, in return for us helping him pick veggies, work in the yard, etc. I LOVE THIS!!!
I am going to try my hand at canning this year. I have always frozen, but after the ice storm I realize that I need to do both as canning will keep, ice or no ice. My plan is to make some tomato sauce as we are inundated with tomatoes, as well as apple butter and blueberry jam. I am going to can peaches, pears and apples for pies and muffins, etc and possily make some salsas and chutneys. Doing it the old fashioned way as I do not own a pressure cooker. I have about 30lbs of tomatoes to make sauce with (this, after freezing about 5qts already) I am also considering canning some stews and chowders if this goes well. Again, I normally freeze but...I am trying new things this year! To be able to open up a jar of stew and heat it up on the wood stove...mmmm...
Speaking of which....I am DEFINITELY going to start cooking on the wood stove again. I love it and found you can make all sorts of things inside the stove as well as on top. :) Saves electricity and feels very rustic. My dream stove is one of those big Vermont Castings wood cook stoves...I can't seem to convince Hubby that is the way to go though... :)
Well, this post has taken me DAYS to write so now its time to post it, lol :)