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Welcome to the Friday open thread for the Living Simply group. If you are not familiar with our group, the basic idea, from our profile, is:

A group to explore and share sustainable, simple living ideas among fellow progressives. For the urban, rural, or wannabe homesteader, this is a place to share information to simplify everyday life. Sustainable skills such as gardening, food production and storage, do-it-yourself projects for the home or farm, and backyard chickens and other livestock, as well as eco-conscious philosophies such as cooperative living, eco-cities, the Slow Food movement, and being a mindful consumer are but a few potential topics of interest here.

Happy holiday weekend!  If you missed cordgrass's diary this week, go check it out here: Living Simply:  Zero Waste and the Great Disruption.  For those not familiar, for the past several weeks cordgrass has been writing a weekly series on going "zero waste."  Diaries are posted every Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. EST, so if you're around the great orange Kosland at that time, stop in and chat.  If you want to check out past diaries, you can find them on the Living Simply blog homepage.

I've been thinking a bit lately about what I've come to call my "green guilt."    I don't believe in beating yourself up over things you can't change and, in general, I don't believe that going to extremes is all that healthy, either.  You do what you can do, and there is no right or wrong--only what works for each individual or family.  But there are always those things that occasionally creep into your mind.  Those things you know you could or should change, but don't. You probably know what I'm talking about, and you probably have your own examples of "green guilt."  One of the biggies for me is my vehicles.  Going car-less or using public transportation isn't really an option for us where we live, so for everyday driving, my husband and I drive as fuel-efficient of cars as we can afford.  At the moment that happens to be two small Volkswagens, one of which has a diesel engine and gets approximately 40 mpg.  They aren't hybrids--not in the budget--but if we are mindful of our trips, combine errands, and generally pay attention, I think we do fairly well for our situation.  

But then, see, there's my other vehicle.   The one that, when I'm thinking about reducing my carbon emissions and being a good little environmentalist, makes me feel like a big 'ol green hypocrite.  My elephant in the room.  Almost literally.  'Cause it's fucking huge.  My third car is a dually pick-up truck, a four-door carbon-belching monster of a machine.  In some ways I feel it is justified:  I have a farm.  I have horses.  I have feed to pick up, trailers to haul. But a lot of those reasons are for recreation, not necessity (I love my horses, but they are for fun.  There's nothing sustainable about them).  So is there a better way?  Probably!  Do I beat myself up over it every day?  No, but I do have moments of, well, guilt.

Then I have other moments of "green guilt" where I actually realize that I was actually acting much more sustainably than I originally thought.  Take my gardens, for example.  Not my veggie gardens, but my cottage-style, simply for pleasure gardens.  I've got beds full of stuff that I won't eat and that I just like to look at.  My gardens are probably the one place you'll see my "girly" side:  You'd be hard pressed to find me actually wearing pink on my person, but my flower beds are overflowing with pink and purple blossoms of every shade.

I've occasionally wondered if I just shouldn't do something else with this space instead--after all, my flower beds don't do anything for me, right? Why should I waste money, time, and resources for something that doesn't give anything back to me or the environment?  Maybe I should add more edibles to the landscaping, replace the flower beds with more vegetable beds, etc.  But I've come to realize that my indulgence in pretty plants isn't really all that bad of an idea as I move toward living more simply.  My flower beds are ever increasingly replacing my lawn, which in my opinion is a big 'ol non-sustainable waste of time.  And this time of year, with so much in full bloom, my front yard is pollinator central!  I never could have imagined the diversity of bees, wasps, moths, and butterflies that I could spot just by walking out my front door.  Of course, without pollinators, there is no food...so it looks like I might be on the right track after all, huh?

The floor is yours!  What are you doing to live more simply?

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Comment Preferences

  •  your flowers (8+ / 0-)

    are both beautiful and functional.  What more could you ask?  I think it's important to feed the soul as well as the body, and flowers fit the bill.

    There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

    by puzzled on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:23:36 AM PDT

    •  Pollinators. (6+ / 0-)

      Over the years, I've planted some perennials here and there. Most are natives. And most are pink and purple, my favorite colors. And the local honey bees and bumblebees LOVE them. Right now, I have a massive (5x6) or so purple calendula right outside my front door that's filled with honey bees. We have to push it out of the way to get to the front gate. And the bees just sort of grumble "huh? Oh. It's you. Whatever. Bzzzzzzzz"

      With colony collapse a real and serious problem, I am thrilled to see bees on my plants. Butterflies too, because they're lovely. But bees need save places free from chemicals where they can hang out and gather pollen.

      Your beautiful flowers -- I presume they're organic. - do just that. They're a vital  part of the ecosystem.

      © grover. My sockpuppet is a fuzzy blue muppet.

      by grover on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:35:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, definitely organic. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gustogirl

        I don't see many honeybees around here, which is both unfortunate and fortunate--unfortunate for obvoius reasons, since populations are in decline and it would be a good thing to see more of them.  But somewhat fortunate for me personally as I am deathly allergic to their stings.  

        I've never seen a purple calendula!  It sounds beautiful.  

  •  Offsets. (6+ / 0-)

    I look at my life and when I feel green guilt, I think, can I get rid of this? If not, what can I do to offset it?

    We were in a major car accident several years back, in my fuel efficient Toyota Corolla. We were hit by a heavy panel van and nearly died. I was terrified to replace my thoroughly squashed Toyota with anything that wasn't hefty.

    We bought a Nissan SUV. Good mileage for an SUV. And I immediately made wholesale changes to my life. No more bopping around town whenever I needed something. I started to walk and not drive much at all. My vehicle has very few miles on it. I haven't even put 3500 miles on it since my last oil change --- in October 2010.

    I've become the master of grouping errands, mostly. I shop in bulk, so I waste less time in stores. Bulk items tend to have less packaging. I have to plan meals because I shop less frequently, so we eat more healthfully. Since I'm not in stores or just toodling through town with extra time to drop into a store,  I buy a lot less stuff (and we were never "stuff" people to begin with).  And my husband and I share rides instead of splitting up to be more efficient time-wise (but burning more fuel).  We've really learned to enjoy this time together, instead of just rushing to get stuff done.

    Hauling around my two dogs is easier. My family is safer. I use far less fuel than I ever did in my fuel-efficient Toyota.

    I've been a tree hugger and an outdoorswoman for decades, but this one event changed how we live our lives -- making us even more eco-conscious than before. And the SUV does make it easier to get into the forest to trailheads.

    © grover. My sockpuppet is a fuzzy blue muppet.

    by grover on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:24:21 AM PDT

    •  That is terrifying. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gustogirl

      And I don't blame you one bit.  We looked at the Nissan Rogue before I decided I wanted another VW. It got surprisingly good gas mileage for an SUV, even a small one.  And you know, you make a good point--vehicles are tools--sometimes I think it's not so much the design, but how you use them!  You could be extremely wasteful in a Prius, or conserve in less fuel-efficient car as you have done.  It's more about being mindful, which has the nice side effect of spreading to other aspects of everyday life (for example, in your case, eating more healthfully).  I like it.  :)  

      Getting to trailheads is important, too! One reason why I am able to drive a fuel-efficient car for every day trips is because I have the back-up provided by my pickup truck.  We live rurally and at the end of a half-mile long, secluded, unpaved driveway.  When the weather is bad--snow or unusually heavy rains--the little VWs don't leave the farm.  It's impossible.  If we didn't have the truck, we would have had to choose some sort of small SUV to at least be able to get on and off the property in all weather (tho if we get really heavy snow, which is thankfully unusual here in the DC area, even the dually pickup can't get off the farm!).  

  •  my lawn is getting taken over by clover (5+ / 0-)

    and dandelions and I think violets.  I'm a bad neighbor but good to the bees.

  •  also all farmers (5+ / 0-)

    and horse owners get a free pass on pickups.

    •  Lol. Thanks. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cordgrass, Gustogirl

      As for your above comment and being a bad neighbor...phooey on pretty lawns!  Who needs 'em?  Spending time needlessly seeding and fertilizing and applying chemicals and grooming with fossil-fuel powered machines, and for what?   We have a bit of "lawn" behind the house, and I like having some open space for our kiddo to play and run, but I don't know how much of it is actually grass...it's probably mostly dandelions and clover, too!  

  •  asdf (3+ / 0-)

    I'm a big fan of wildflowers. I was even letting the thistles stay in my flowerbeds, if not in my grass where the kids run barefoot, but they disperse so freely that it took hours to dig the baby thistles from the back lawn this season. I came away from that experience slightly less willing to let all the "flowers" run free. I do transplant all the Queen Anne's lace from the back patch out into the front flowerbeds where they'll be safe from trampling.

    I tried the dishwasher soap that was mentioned in the Tasty Bits diary earlier this week. My dishes are completely coated in white scum. I ran it through again with straight vinegar to see if it would cut through, and it hasn't. Myth: Busted.

    Fire Rick Snyder Weathering Michigan's recessions since the '70s.

    by jennifree2bme on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 12:14:09 PM PDT

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