Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Adjusting my Green GPS

A wondering from the EcoWonder...
Baseball season has started, so have my recycling program volunteer duties. Track season has started, so have my carpool obligations. Tonight we have kindergarten round-up for a very excited 4-year old. We also have countless meetings, a doctor appointment, two orthodontist appointments and a home repair issue that needs to be addressed this week. My life doesn't feel very light.

One of the boy's bikes has a flat tire, the screen for the kitchen window has gone missing and one of the dogs is sick. Bills and mail pile high in the office because instead of sorting through the mess, I've been helping with Algebra homework, finding green shirts for St. Patty's day, digging out last year's baseball pants for practice and making posters for T-ball meet & greet day. Chances are I will buy a new screen, continue to ignore the bills and be tempted to buy new stuff to make the poster rather than dig through my craft scrap bin. My life doesn't feel very green.

When I first started to blog - I had a To-Do List. There were things I wanted to accomplish, I wasn't thinking too big, just simple things. Paper towels, thrift store shopping and driving less. After I hit a couple of those goals, I started to get distracted by gorgeous front yard gardens, awesome all-local meals, riots for austerity and so on. And then I started kicking myself for being unable to do many of those things.

For those of you who are just beginning on your green journey, or for those like me, readjusting your green GPS unit to reflect your busy family life or a tighter budget due to the economy, join me. I'm going back to the green basics.

I'm reminding myself not to take more than one paper towel in the public restroom. I'm remembering to bring my book or my bike to the boy's baseball practice to keep myself busy so I'm not driving all the way back home only to drive right back two hours later. I'm making an effort to do the little things that can make a big difference.

My refreshed and renewed To-Do list goes a little something like this:

Drive less, walk more - Maybe this is a direct result of the weather finally warming here in Michigan, but walking to the corner store, to the park, with the dog or just quietly by myself has been a treat lately. Making sure to drive the boys to baseball practice - and stay there myself - means thinking in advance to bring the book / dog / bike that I wanted to use during that two hours.

Less Target, more thrift store - Last year I did a great job getting to the thrift shop, which happened to be close to a local Farmer's Market in my town every Wednesday. Then, I went back to work and was unable to get to the Wednesday market, so in turn, I missed my weekly trip to the thrift store. My boys are in need of t-shirts, shorts and much more, so this weekend I plan to take a couple of hours to visit a couple of thrift stores to see if I can fill the gaps in their closets. I might even return those PJs I bought at Target, if I can find a replacement pair!

Less yard waste, more compost - Hiding out in my basement I have a rather large, unused wire dog crate. It's my goal to retro-fit the hinged door, add a handle for easy rolling and haul it out doors. It can easily be filled with yard waste, grass clippings, potato peels and such that will make great compost and it won't cost me anything but time.

Less energy, more savings - This summer I want to focus on better ways to cool my home without the air conditioning. Strategically placed fans, opening and closing windows at the right time and closing the blinds. The same goes for water. Using dehumidifier grey water for flower pots, collecting rain run off for the landscaping and making sure the cool showers on hot, sticky days don't last too long.

More free fun - We have memberships to the Zoo and a couple of museums. We also have two parks, a library and an entire rails to trails bike path system within a few minutes of my house. Using these fun resources more often, even if it means buying breakfast for the family at the end of the trail or treating the kids to ice cream at the museum, means more time spent together as a family instead of sitting silent right next to each other at the movie theater. And, they just might learn something, you never know!

Less stress, more fun - No more freaking out about too many peaches to can or freeze, the extras will make lovely gifts to the neighbors. No more obsessing about where every single ingredient came from in each meal or weather or not I should have grown it myself in my landscaping bed. Most of all, I plan to cut back on the "Mom's busy, OK?!?" and turn off the computer and get outdoors. Shoot some hoops with the boys, take a dip in the lake, play fetch with the dog, or just sit quietly and enjoy the sunshine.

I am hoping as I write this, by leaving my To-Do list here, for everyone to see, I will stick to it, keep on course and follow where my green GPS leads me.


ruchi said...

Dude. This was exactly the post I needed. I need to get back to some of the basics too ... I keep forgetting my reusable mug too often and taking a disposable cup. Things like that. Time to take stock. :)

Carmen said...

I think in any journey we have to check our compass (or our GPS) on a regular basis or we get off track. Great post - and so timely for spring.

Heather @ SGF said...

Sounds like a beautiful balance. We all need this reminder. Thanks!

Theresa said...

Yes, I concur with everyone else: it's time to refocus and return to the basics, which help ground everything else - thanks!

JessTrev said...

Nice post - good reminder to take stock of what my intentions are at the moment. Stretching my legs out in the sunshine sounds about perfect right now! And hmmm... a leisurely thrift store Saturday would be nice too. I agree with Theresa, this process of defining your basics is wonderfully grounding.

Anonymous said...

I'm with @ruchi: This was exactly the post I needed. Thank you! :)

Willo said...

This is a great post. I am adding to my list, get outside and stay outside. As the weather gets nicer I think spending time outside forces me to do good in my yard, helps raise my little environmentalists, and reminds me why I do it all.

EcoBurban said...

Ruchi - Dude! Remembering my reusable thermos is something else that should have been on my list! Ah, well, the list grows...

Carmen - yes, I agree. I think keeping a simple list to track my progress is so satisfying!

Heather - Yeah, balance... I need to get better at that. Tonight I was running around like crazy getting kid's haircuts, solving middle school science powerpoint questions and trying to figure out why my casserole wasn't getting done - only to notice I set my oven to 325 instead of 375... ARGH!

Theresa - The basics do seem to keep me grounded, if I remind myself of all the little things I did right, I don't beat myself up about the things I didn't get done!

Jess - Yes, sunshine sounds fabulous. We had two great days, tomorrow is back to the 30s and dreary, but I am vowing to enjoy every 65 degree sunny day we get!

elbales - Ah, you forget your reusable mug too? Join the crowd... :)

Willo - I agree, there is nothing like showing your kids earthworms, flowers and the occasional weed (not like I have any... LOL) to get them involved in nature! I'm with ya!

Green Bean said...

Great list. It is so easy to get distracted and veer away from the small but important steps. Great post.

DriftSeed said...

Great post. It's that perfect time of year for adjustment at my house in Michigan, warm enough to be outside for a little while, but cool enough to send you back in all refreshed and ready to make the world shiny.

When you get your dog cage re-fitted as a composter, I would love to know how you did it. I have two in my basement that I would love to turn into something useful.

Thanks again for the great post.


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