Colin Beavan aka No Impact Man asks participants on Day One of his project/experiment to observe consumption. At IWU today, students are encouraged to turn in their copies of their No Impact Man book so others who haven’t read them can have access to the book. They also suggest that students poke around at local thrift stores for gently used items and clothing instead of hitting the mall. The provided an awesome list of local resources.
For myself I have these observations and thoughts:
I shifted to a non-consumption model a ways back. Two recent moves to smaller places each time had one observe the many items one has acquired over the years that are simply not being used. I also obviously downsized now that my youngest is in college. The question to ask over and over …do i really need this??
I have in my closet way less shoes and clothes than most woman I know. When I lost all my weight i couldn’t afford to revamp my entire wardrobe. I altered many items and then purchased just a few key pieces. I think where I fail is when seasons shift I find myself wishing for something new. Not needing something new, but wanting. I find if I stay away from the stores that it solves that problem pretty fast. Going to the mall = shopping, which inevitably ends up with consumption. By discontinuing all my mail order catalogs I am not lured into online shopping. I am patiently exploring the thrift shops here and adore the concept of buying gently used items yet I have to say shopping thrift for clothing for me hasn’t been very successful.
When I look at my spending, besides my bills my absolute largest expenditure is food. I have been evaluating this in recent times. For me a full fridge is “comforting” and some how very reassuring. If there is food to eat. I can survive!! When it’s just me …do I need a full fridge?? Because I am a scratch cook it’s my habit to have things around so i can make things as I need to. That might be muffins or soup or a pasta sauce. The old me had an inventory of supplies that looked a lot like a grocery store!! Conceptually I do prefer to stock certain things, this to me again keeps me fed, less trips to the store and all in all better for the environment. Yet what I’ve discovered is I don’t really think I NEED to have so much on hand.
I think the biggest lesson I am learning now is to cook seasonally. I think at some level I do this by habit – in the summer you eat summer type foods – in winter you eat soup!! However the grocery store markets all food items all year round. If we were to actually eat by what is grown nearby we’d be eating differently. This summer was the first summer that I purchased weekly at the farmers market. It opened my eyes to eating what each season provides. The fruit and vegetables were so delicious! Nothing compares!! I tried new items I’ve never eaten before thanks to the sharing of our local farmers. The farmers market conceptually isn’t a one stop shop. I have learned to work with what they provided and shift my cooking and eating habits a bit. I am not perfect in this area but this summer I ate more locally than ever before!!
I am not much of an entertainer, here at home when guests are over we drink water from the tap, seasonally we might have warm tea or if libation is involved it’s most often bring your own. I would love to have more dinner parties as I love the hearth created around a home made meal, currently my budget doesn’t allow much of that. I do think that from an entertainment perspective though the lowest cost, the healthiest and truly the most green way to have fun is to stay home!! Potluck anyone!!
I want to say one more thing. Stores and commercials on TV are hyping the what’s next holiday. I was such a huge consumer when my children were young. So much of it just got pitched. I think of that and feel awful. I just didn’t think much about it back then. Last year for my Christmas holiday gifting I purchased ALL thrift. I firstly saved a ton of money! Secondly it was really very much like a treasure hunt, once the perfect item was found it was so rewarding!! The gifting was way more personal and unique.