Lifestyle Changes: Going Green and Living Simple
Lifestyle Changes: Going Green and Living Simple
If someone had told me two years ago that I would go green I would have laughed them off. In fact, I did! My friend would eye my garbage bag as she watched me put my pop bottles in the garbage and pick them out if I turned my back. It drove me crazy! I would buy packaged or frozen food, not thinking of the ingredients. Three times a week we would have take-out. It was a quick meal for me to unthaw after a busy workday despite the cost. I bought knickknacks and decorative items to pretty up my home. I bought clothes at the latest store - on sale sometimes but not usually. I never worried about the light bill until it would come in and then what could we do beyond turning off the lights behind us? I attempted a garden. It turned out to be weeds mostly. Who knew that you had to water and weed it? It was a standing joke in the neighbourhood I killed every plant. It was also a standing joke that I didn’t cook or know where the kitchen was beyond the wine rack.
Until I bought my first house. In the country. No fast food delivery here and no take out in sight for miles. We would starve.
I had no job and no job prospects. Because of that, my family expected me to be the stay at home mom that I once was. I hadn’t done that in years! Cook, clean and run the house? Uhh…me? I was daunted by the task. I floundered. I resisted. But something happened. It dawned on me that this might be a new start. After all, we had moved to an entirely slower part of the country. I could relax. I didn’t have to worry about client’s budgets, managing staff or my monthly numbers. I just had to worry about what we were going to have for dinner every night. I also had to figure out how to live on a one income budget. We decided to use one vehicle instead of two. This not only made me panicky (what if there was an emergency?) but it meant we had to communicate our needs and plan in advance.
I unpacked those dusty recipe books I had collected over the years and set out meal plans for the week. As I decided on meals, I wrote down what I needed on a grocery list. I found a site where they had knock off restaurant food. Mmm…KFC boneless wings. I shopped to support my local economy - butchers, farmer’s markets and farmers. Have you ever noticed how much nicer fresh eggs are? The atmosphere of the market heightens the sense of well being. It makes me feel good to know I support my province and my own country. We do still go out to the restaurant maybe once a month but it’s no where near the three or more times a week. Besides, when you go to restaurants you’ll find a lot of the food is packaged and frozen. French fries anyone? You could have made that at home for a fraction of the cost.
The first year I had a small garden. It was a 2x2 spot where I dug up some sod. I might have tossed in a bag of earth…maybe? I can’t remember if I even did that. The few plants I had thrived. I was pretty proud of myself when my family forked over the ten dollar bet in the fall. I hadn’t killed anything. Last summer I heard about the local library plant sale. It consisted of local plants dug up from other people’s gardens and then sold as a fundraiser. I bought over eleven different varieties of perennial plants that were native to my gardening zone. All in all I believe I bought thirty plants for $20.25.
I scored some tomato and hot pepper plants from my local Freecycle page. Freecycle is where you post items you no longer want and you can request items you need. The key word is “free”. The rule of thumb is that you usually have to pick the item up, but sometimes if it is a heavier item the other person may be kind enough to deliver it. I have gotten dressers, a juicer, garden supplies and plants from my local group. I have given away computers, toys, clothes and kitchen utensils. You can also post on your local Kijiji group and sell your items. We got rid of our second car and skidoo this way.
I also got my husband to build me a composter. After weeks of asking around about how they work and hesitating I just decided to do it. Well, asked him do it. He built a very simple composter from free pallets we received from his friend. Four pallets for walls and that’s that. It’s in a back part of our yard and yes, it does get a few critter visits but only usually when there’s corn cobs in it. There’s no real trick to keeping it from smelling. Equal combinations of browns (like kitchen stuffs - no meat or dairy) and green (grass clippings - no diseased plants) make a good, moist compost you can use to fertilize your garden. Turn it occasionally or as you put items in it and that’s that! It cuts down on the garbage going out to the curb. If you can’t do this in your own yard, municipalities usually have a composting program in effect with a smaller roadside container.
Because we only have once a month recycle pick up in our area, I invested in three large blue containers for cardboard, plastics and pop containers. I used my saved up Canadian Tire money and purchased them for $4 when they went on sale. They fit a regular clear garbage bag so that when they get full, I pull them out and toss them into the garage until recycle day. It took awhile to get everyone on board but now it’s routine. The part to remember about recycling is to try not to buy items with excess packaging. All those fruit and veggies you place in individual bags? Try to place them in one reusable bag until you get to the cash. Use reusable bags. Some stores are starting to credit you a nickel for every reusable bag you bring. In some larger chain stores they are crediting you points on their point cards. That adds up to free groceries!
I’ve learned that we can be the best green that we can be just by having patience and making a few small changes. Getting rid of knicknacks and stuff you don’t use can be therapeutic. Less to dust! Less dusting means more time to do other things. These changes can save us money, especially in these tough economic times.
I am now researching solar and wind power for my house. I question before something goes on my plate. Just how do they keep the packaged pre-peeled potatoes white? I'm putting THAT in my body?? I was in the doctor’s office and found a natural, nearly chlorine free recycled pool in an article of Harrowsmith Country Life magazine. It was made from 104 tires and recycled carpet. How cool is that? I realized that I am a damned fine cook and I bake phenomenal desserts. I can make delicious fresh salsa from my own garden - grown with my very own hands. I am winter sowing seeds this winter and am planning an even larger garden with my one acre property. I usually get great clothes at the second hand shops for a fraction of the costs. My friends and I compare our bargains LOL Oh and those pop bottles? I collect them and bring them to the local recycle centre. I usually get $20 or more per visit. I’m saving the wine bottles so that I can make homemade wine.
After all, no good cook goes without a good wine ;)