|I bought some houseplants, but now they're all dead.|
Eco-novice reflects on her 2013 green goals.
Happy New Year!
My 2013 green goals were designed to help my family reduce waste and energy use, reduce exposure to toxins, and improve our connection to nature. See the original post here.
Unfortunately, like thousands of other well-meaning resolution makers, I have barely referred to my 2013 list of resolutions in the last many months, although some of them were nonetheless always clear in my memory and have been nagging at me from the back of my mind pretty consistently (composting, for example). I always like to review the goals of the previous year before making any new resolutions (helps to clamp down on any unrealistic ambitions), so here we go.
1. Expand my homemade snack repertoire.
I'm doing OK in this category. I still wish I were making more homemade snacks and buying fewer pckaged chips and crackers. I have added a few items to my repertoire (in addition to my healthy whole grain "cookies" and chewy granola bars). I now frequently make my tried-and-true honey whole wheat bread into rolls. They freeze really well and, as far as I can tell, everyone loves rolls. I've also been experimenting with healthy muffins, another kid-friendly-sized food. What I really want to make is homemade cheesy crackers, because my children are obsessed with goldfish crackers (which we rarely buy, but everyone else always seems to have and give them). I want to master a homemade whole grain with real cheddar cheese mini cracker. I'm always on the lookout for any snacks that are easy to make in bulk, kid-friendly, good for on-the-go, and, of course, healthy. Any suggestions?
I have been practicing early potty training with my third child since she was four months old. I had to look back through my early potty training posts to figure out if I actually did this. It looks like we transitioned to training pants almost all the time around 18 months. Actually, we are all done with potty training now with this one. We're down to one accident (day or night) every couple of weeks. Stay tuned for an early potty training reprise post coming soon!
3. Blog about green home remodeling. We purchased a home a year and a half ago. It required "modest" renovations. Aside from this one post, I haven't written anything, and still find the thought of writing down how I researched and what I chose pretty daunting.
4. Try a bar conditioner.
I'm always on the lookout for ways to reduce our plastic packaging and waste. My husband and I, and sometimes our kids, have been using a shampoo bar for a couple of years now. I never did buy or try a bar conditioner (I did an online search for them once and they do exist), but... I stopped using my old conditioner anyway, and life continues on. I'll tell you how eventually in a post. Too bad I can't link to all these unwritten posts now, but I tend to run many, many months behind when it comes to writing about my green changes, unfortunately.
5. Go for a walk with my children once a week.
Major, major fail. We do go on walks, but no where near once a week. This will definitely be on the 2014 list. I miss talking to my kids about the trees and birds and insects we see, and collecting little treasures to take back home.
6. Buy houseplants.
The good news is, I bought three houseplants and pots to put them in! The bad news is, they're all dead. Mostly from neglect. You have to water most plants, unfortunately. One I kept in the bathroom and did water rather faithfully, but its roots seem to have gotten damaged in the transplant from pot to pot, because we watched one segment of it die at a time over the next several weeks. On the other hand, we planted a tree in our backyard and it is doing great! That's because my husband is in charge of watering it. A neighbor also gave us a plant as a gift, and it seems to be doing quite well (again, because my husband has taken charge of regular watering).
7. Learn about composting and get ready to garden.
Well, I've learned more about composting, but some of what I learn makes me more eager and ready and some makes me more cautious and reluctant. I think I'm going to eventually purchase a bin to put in a corner of my backyard. My city (according to the website) has a program for buying bins at a discount. I haven't managed to talk to a real live person about this program or the city's composting classes, so that's probably my next step. As for gardening, I am learning who the master gardeners in my new neighborhood are and asking them about where I might plant a garden in my yard. I did buy two tomato plants at Costco earlier this year, which I planted in very large clay pots in my front yard. We got several tomatoes from them, which was very exciting to my children, but eventually they died, once again due to neglect (I stopped watering them regularly). I'll probably try planting something easier in the pots this year.
8. Get a pet.
We did get a fish. Two fish actually, and then one died and we replaced it, and then another one died and we're not replacing it. So we're down to one. I also got two bird feeders from a neighbor. The hummingbird feeder is up but needs to be refilled. The other, along with a bag of birdseed I purchased, has been sitting in the garage for several months. Hopefully writing this post will be the kick in the pants I need to actually hang it up somewhere. What we really want is a dog. But we're also daunted by the responsibility. It's also going to take a bit of research and legwork to find the right dog. We've visited several shelters and I'm starting to find online rescue organizations. Hopefully we'll find the right dog soon enough and that will be all the motivation we need to finally take the plunge.
9. Replace foam furniture.
Regular readers know that toxic flame retardants are one of my personal nemeses. I was hoping California would change its regulations quickly enough for me to easily purchase a new sofa that hasn't been treated with toxic chemical flame retardants. That doesn't look like it's going to happen, especially now that my 2yo has managed to peel off about 20% of the leather on our aging leather sofas (they look....horrendous). I'm thinking I will either just save up and buy something of the premium eco-friendly variety, or perhaps go the same route as my natural bed and buy a cotton/latex futon covered with a washable cover. Although I don't think futons or sofa beds are as comfortable as real sofas.
10. Donate some of my kids' books and toys.
I have done this, but not enough. I find it especially difficult to part with toys, because they are almost all of the plastic-free, eco-friendly, high-quality variety. But it's painfully obvious that we have far too much stuff, even though I rotate both books and toys so only a fraction are out at once. I was impressed with what I read recently in Raising Happiness about ways to encourage gratitude and the problems with abundance. The author mentioned two different approaches to encouraging kids to give away toys. One family has children choose to give away around Thanksgiving (the same number as their respective ages), to make room for Christmas gifts. Another family has their child choose one toy per week to give away, which sounds a bit drastic, until you consider that "on average the average American kids get seventy new toys per year." Yikes. Of course, in my household, many of the seventy toys never really make it into my children's hands or disappear quickly after opening. I'm still thinking about what might work best for our family. I'm actually thinking it would easier for my children (and me) to select a set number of items to keep, and donating the rest. Once again, I welcome suggestions on how you deal with this beast.
If all goes according to plan, I'll post some 2014 goals soon. I'm open to suggestions! Leave yours below.