Friday, May 3, 2013

New Loves Discovered on the Green Path



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 Markets

For 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.

Etsy

Although 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.

Homemaking

I 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 Diapers

I'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?

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7 comments:

meganwagnerlloyd said...

I like knowing that a lot of simple things I do are, in fact, being green: spending time outside, drinking water, cooking from scratch, buying less, buying used, etc. It doesn't have to be a big complicated thing (at least not most of the time).

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

Hi, Megan! So true. And I think many folks are discovering for themselves the joys of the simple, frugal life as they go green.

Christy said...

The only thing on your list that I don't get to do as much is regular farmer's market shopping. We have a local one once every two weeks through the warmer months and a much smaller scale one through the winter. Our local produce is limited by our more northern climate (British Columbia). But once the growing season kicks in that's what I love to do whenever possible.

Most of the Eco things I've learned to do we're a direct result of having kids and discovering "natural parenting" (although I've always had a large helping of crunchy-ness in me). So organic and local, whole foods, cloth diapers, enjoying being outside, making and crafting have all been as a result of wanting a better life and world for my kids.

One that I would add, for me, is a rediscovery of veggie gardening. I remember helping my grandma in her garden every summer and now I am expanding my own garden and trying to grow most of what we eat in the summer myself.

charlotte said...

Home cooking is the key for me, so many crazy extra ingredients that never taste as good. I just can not buy ready made cakes, meals biscuits if it's not worth the effort of making then it's not worth eating. It's also cheaper to cook.

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

Christy, hoping to try veggie gardening eventually. Bought a few tomato plants this year -- hoping I can keep them alive long enough to produce something.

charlotte, it's so true. The stuff with extra ingredients never tastes as good.

Joy @ Joyfully Green said...

Hi Betsy,

We are definitely on the same path! I wrote about local farms vs. supermarkets last year (http://www.joyfullygreen.com/2012/07/local-farm-vs-supermarket.html) as well as recently writing about baking my own bread. (There is no comparison to store-bought--the aroma wafting through the house alone is worth it!)

I can't wait until the farmers' markets get into full swing in our area! I hate supermarkets, and instead of food shopping being a chore, farmers' markets make it a pleasure.

Lisa said...

Happy New Year EcoNovice! I enjoyed reading your post. I agree w Megan that many think greening your life is difficult when in fact there are so many small things ppl can do which can make big differences for their family's lives as well as mother earth. We started greening our lives about 2 years ago as we learned more about the food and cosmetics industries. As a result, we have become more food + product conscious, appreciate buying locally, cook more, read tons of labels, and reduced our use of chemical laden products. We have also simplified our lives, recycle gifts and make things. Greening is fun, good for earth and good for health. Thank you for sharing. :)

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