Eco-novice reflects on what she's gained by going green.
This week, as I wrote my umpteenth post about how much I love the farmers market, I realized how many wonderful things I have discovered only because of my permanent detour onto a greener path.
Farmers MarketsFor me, one of the greatest benefits of living greener has been becoming connected to my local food economy and developing a greater appreciation for where our food comes from. Since I don't really garden, the farmers market for me is the shortest path of production available. Food has such far-reaching implications for our family's health, how land is used and the health of the planet. It is also a large and recurring expense. I view changing how I buy my food as one of the most important green changes I have made. In addition to feeling great about giving my family the healthiest and tastiest produce available, I feel good about consciously choosing to support small local sustainable farming. I like handing my money straight to the farmer. I have always said that I don't like shopping, but I have discovered that what I actually don't like is shopping in conventional grocery stores and mega-stores and especially malls. Thanks to our local farmers markets, now I often go more than a month without setting foot in a regular grocery store, which means no cheapy toys or salacious magazines at my kids' eye levels, no wandering through a dozen aisles to find the one thing I actually want, no processed foods beckoning, no checkout line. Love that.
EtsyAlthough being a conscious shopper is sometimes a drag, when you make an effort to support businesses and people (like farmers!) that you respect and admire, you get an extra burst of happiness from making a purchase. I first found my way to Etsy while searching for inexpensive wooden toy vehicles for my son. Since then I have purchased reusable food bags, cloth bibs, party favors, stainless steel straws, shampoo and shaving bars, lots of wooden toys for all ages, baby gifts and more. It's one of my favorite places to buy gifts for my kids with birthday money.
HomemakingI feel a strong sense of satisfaction every single time I make my whole wheat honey bread. It's still like a little miracle every time. Also, it smells amazing and tastes delicious. As one of my friends said, "After eating homemade bread, you can't go back." When I had my last baby, a lot of baking and cooking from scratch got put on hold, but I never stopped making bread. I appreciate the DIY self-sufficient ethic that comes with green living. As a SAHM, there is no final product at the end of the month for which I will receive accolades or a bonus. But going green has nudged me into cooking and baking more from scratch. It made me want to learn to sew in order to be able to mend and make things just the way I wanted them. And I have found that I really enjoy being able to make something, whether that's a loaf of bread or reusable gift bags, especially since as a SAHM, I often don't have much tangible evidence of what I've accomplished any given day. I still don't like to clean.
Cloth DiapersI'm quite sure I never would have tried cloth diapers if I hadn't become concerned about the ingredients in disposable diapers. But switch I did, and you know what? Cloth diapers are better. They smell less, leak less, wipe better, and feel better (which would you rather wear: cotton or plastic underwear?). They are cuter and more versatile. And they will save you oodles of money. For months after switching from disposables my husband loved to calculate the money we were saving not buying them. Cloth diapering and having to deal with poop (note to disposable diaper users: you are supposed to deal with the poop too) also motivated me to give early potty training a try. And having tried it both ways, I can tell you that putting a baby on the potty is a lot more fun than convincing a 2.5-year-old to use one.
What wonderful things have you discovered on your green journey?