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?