I am not one of those people who feel compelled to chain themselves to trees, to stop all personal hygiene, or to live off the grid growing my own clothes and food. I typically tend to be a middle-of-the-road kind of person, balanced, thoughtful, and considerate rather than swinging like a pendulum from one trendy extreme to another. Being born in early 1970, I grew up at a time when convenience was still something of a novelty. Growing up in a small Saskatchewan city likely meant an even slower introduction to all the new-fangled conveniences and inventions. I think I remember when the grocery store introduced plastic bags. My family purchased our milk directly from a dairy farm, which meant scraping off the cream every morning before pouring milk on our cereal. I remember when Pizza Pops were new…and plastic bottles began to replace the glass ones in the pop machines. Schools sent home lists of items needed for crafts and projects, like empty egg cartons and toilet paper rolls. We didn’t recycle back then, at least not the way we recycle today with our curbside bins and depots, yet I think we were less wasteful, more resourceful.
Society has changed over the years since I was a child, and I’m not certain that all our changes have been positive. Convenience is king these days, which means so much is disposable, cheaply made, filled with chemicals and preservatives, and frequently over-packaged. I am not an environmental activist, but I do believe in being a good steward of what has been given to us. We have one life on this one planet. How do you want to live it? How do you want to leave the world for those that come after you?
Everyone makes their own decisions about what they value and how they want to live. I get that, and I am not the lecturing type. As for me, I have been striving to make even better choices as often as I can (and remember). Small steps take one forward and sometimes make the journey less traumatic than trying to make massive changes all at once. We’ve had reusable cloth shopping bags for years, but I haven’t always been good at remembering to use them. Over the past several months, I have been working to improve in that area and have seen measurable success. I have used a reusable water bottle for several years now, but I struggle to be as consistent with my reusable coffee mugs. My daughter just introduced me to a shampoo bar, and despite my skepticism, I liked it enough to make that my next shampoo purchase. I’ve been making my own facial scrub for quite some time. It’s a simple combination of coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils, and I love using it.
I don’t garden; my thumbs are pitch black. There is a composter in my backyard, but it has sat untouched for years and never amounted to much when I did use it. Maybe I didn’t completely understand how to use it effectively, or perhaps my failures flow out of my black thumbs. I don’t know, but it sits there idle and avoided by everyone but the wasps. I’d like to figure it out one day, and maybe I will.
I don’t always get to our local Farmers Market on a consistent basis, but I do try to purchase most of my fruit and vegetables from local producers. Thankfully I live in an area where this is easily accomplished. Local honey. Kombucha. Wines. Etc.
Packaging is one thing that has been bothering me a lot lately. I understand that some products need to be packaged, but I do not understand why three pairs of underwear need to be individually folded over pieces of cardboard, taped to another piece of cardboard, and then wrapped in plastic. (I’m looking at you, Calvin Klein!) While I cannot always eliminate packaging, I am beginning to look for items that are not heavily packaged.
So, I’m doing my part to keep myself and my planet healthy and vibrant. Often it may feel like a waste of time and effort, but there is also kind of a thrill in knowing that you are making positive changes, even on an individually small scale.