Happy Blogiversary

>> Sunday, October 4, 2009

I've been writing The Conscious Shopper for over a year now, so I thought it would be nice to take a moment to remember where I've been and look forward to where I'll be going.

Where I've Been

For many years, I had been transitioning to a greener lifestyle, but I started this blog to push me forward into some of the areas I had been making excuses about ("it costs too much," "I don't have enough time," "I live in North Carolina - not California or Seattle"). Here is the list I wrote a year ago of all the things that were "making me feel guilty" and what I've done about it since then:

:: plastic (find alternative products that don't involve plastic)

  • I'm careful about the plastic that I let into our home, and I'm making the plastic products we already have last as long as possible.
:: over-packaging (find products with less packaging, shop online less, buy less)
:: pesticides and chemical fertilizers (buy organic, plant a garden)
  • Most of the groceries we buy are organic. Unfortunately, our year-round farmer's market does not have any organic stands, so I'm looking into joining a CSA this year or switching to the Moore's Square farmer's market for the spring and summer. And I'll be planting my own organic vegetable garden next spring.
:: industrial farming (buy from small farmers, plant a garden)
  • See above
:: canned foods (can my own fresh fruits and vegetables, use dried beans)
  • I use dried beans, and although I haven't started canning my own fruits and vegetables yet, we've been eating mostly seasonally and have severely cut back on our canned fruit intake. (But until I can my own, we'll have to eat some canned fruits over the winter.)
:: drying my clothes in the dryer (get a drying rack)
  • I line dry all of our shirts and pants. For now, I've given up on the lofty goal of line drying all of our laundry, but I'd still like to get a drying rack for underwear, socks, and cloth diapers.
:: sweatshop labor (shop thrift stores, buy American)
:: dairy cows (drink soymilk, eat less cheese, find out if there are happy cows around here)
  • For awhile, we were doing half soymilk, half cow's milk, but then I read some things about soymilk...Think I need to research that some more. We do eat less cheese, and most of the time, we buy our milk from Maple View Farm, which is not organic or grass-fed but is local and comes in a reusable glass jar. (And they allow tours of the farm, which is generally a good sign.) I would prefer something better, but for now, it's the best I can find.
:: gas (ride a bike, get a bike trailer for the kids)
  • This is a continuing dilemma for me. My husband and First Son walk to work and school, and my other two boys and I walk anywhere that's within a mile from our house. But we still seem to be driving a lot. I'm hoping to get our monthly mileage down to 500 miles a month, excluding vacations.
:: wastefulness (buy less, fix what's broken, shop thrift stores)
  • See above answer from sweatshop labor. And I can still improve here. Darn Target!
:: eggs (buy free range eggs, get chickens someday!)
  • We buy our eggs from the farmer's market. Since it doesn't look like we'll be owning a home again any time in the near future, chickens are out for now.
:: advertising to children (watch less TV)
  • Could probably improve here. Our kids watch mostly On Demand programming (one or two hours a day), which only has one commercial per episode. In theory, that means they're exposed to fewer commercials, but it also means they watch the same commercials over and over and over. They have them memorized. I haven't noticed them asking for brand name products lately, though, like they were a year ago.
:: home energy usage (programmable thermostat, raise the AC, lower the heat)
  • We don't have a programmable thermostat - I've decided those are better for people who are gone half the day at work rather than someone like myself who is at home most of the time. But we kept our house at 60 degrees all last winter and at 82 all summer, and we kill our vampires.
:: paper (buy recycled and FSC certified paper)
:: food waste (compost)
:: water usage (low flow shower heads and faucets)
  • I've been focusing on conserving water - haven't checked if our showerheads and faucets need replacing yet. I could definitely still improve here. Also, at some point in the future, I'd like to install some water barrels. Wonder what my landlords would think...
There are still many areas where we could improve, but overall, I think we're on the right path.

Where I'm Headed

After doing it for a year, there are some days when blogging is a great big pain in the butt. Keep in mind that I have zero advertisements on this site - I don't make a cent from all of the effort I put into this blog. That is a completely conscious decision on my part (I think it would be hypocritical to say, "Help save the planet by buying less, and oh, by the way, check out the products of my sponsors..."). Also, I've designed this blog to be kind of a green resource center, which means that many of my posts have to be extensively researched before I write them. Which means that I spend a lot of my free time blogging.

Most of the time, I really love blogging, but some days, I have felt obligated to write a blog post when I would rather be doing something else. And more and more these days, I feel like I've been missing out on hobbies I used to enjoy but haven't done much lately - crocheting, crossstitching, scrapbooking, playing the guitar or violin. I would also like to learn to knit and sew.

The plan right now is to keep doing three or four posts a week, but don't be surprised if over time, those posts start petering down and I start blogging less and less. This seems to happen to a lot of green bloggers (especially those like me that are ad free), and I think it's actually inevitable. We start by changing ourselves, and we document every step of our green journey along the way. But eventually, we reach a point where there are still changes to be made but much fewer topics to blog about. We also start looking beyond ourselves for other ways to effect change, and that necessarily means we have less time.

But in the meantime, I've still got a few tricks up my sleeve. I have several posts planned over the next couple months about the green collar economy, and I have a long list of topics to add to the "I Need..." shopping guide. You can also expect many more book and film reviews, recipes, nature walks, and updates on my gardening experience. You might also be invited along as I learn to knit and sew. Actually, I think what you can expect the most is that this blog is going to get less informative and more personal.

But if that's not enough, there's always The Green Phone Booth, where honestly I've been publishing all my best posts lately. If you're not reading The Green Phone Booth yet, you really need to head over there. We've got some seriously talented ladies. (And don't worry, Green Bean. Even if I post less at The Conscious Shopper, I'm not going to flake out on you at The Green Phone Booth. I love writing there!)

So happy blogiversary to me! It's been a great year, and even though I'm not 100% sure what's in store for the future, I hope you'll stick with me. I've loved the camaraderie and support from all of you greenies, whatever shade of green you may be.

Photo by diongillard

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Emily October 5, 2009 at 5:21 AM  

Erin - I've learned much from reading about your journey and it has helped me think about my own choices in conscious living. Thank you for sharing. :)

Robbie @ Going Green Mama October 5, 2009 at 2:32 PM  

Erin, congratulations on your first anniversary! Take your time and write what feels right for you.

Green Bean October 5, 2009 at 4:58 PM  

Awww, I know you wouldn't flake. :) Ever notice how many of us over there started, much like you, with a personal blog and ended up doing it once a week posts at the booth? That's the main reason we came up with it. So we can still write AND live our lives.

That said, the Green Phone Booth AND the blogosphere are better because you're in it. You bring fresh insight, honesty and thoughtfulness to it. Happy blogiversary!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper October 5, 2009 at 9:36 PM  

@Emily - I'm glad I've helped you since you've always been someone I really look up to. :)

@Robbie - You're absolutely right. It's a lot less fun when I feel like I need to blog.

@Green Bean - I think also having so many voices at the Booth makes it really enjoyable to read. So there's many benefits! And thank you!

Lisa Sharp October 5, 2009 at 11:54 PM  

Congrats and have made a lot of changes!

Happy Blogiversary. :)

suzannah October 8, 2009 at 8:47 PM  

after reading In Defense of Food, i'm totally creeped out by soy, too, but i want to learn more.

i wouldn't think it inauthentic to have ads of products and companies that you stand behind ethically--especially if it's in the sidebar and not creeping into content. it's ok to be compensated for your work!

happy blogiversary, and cheers to writing without obligation:)

Mary Q Contrarie October 10, 2009 at 9:09 AM  

Today was the first time I ran acrossed your blog. What great things you are working on and sharing. I wanted to tell you that I had a hard time totally giving up my clothes dryer too what I learned was that I did not have the right style of clothes drying rack. Now that I have a rack that spreads out my clothes and is so portable I manage to dry all my clothes with out a dryer.

I also try to live with out plastics. I find that the toughest. I really enjoy reading http://fakeplasticfish.com/ blog. If you haven't seen her blog you should check it out she has great examples of how to live plastic free.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper October 10, 2009 at 9:43 AM  

@suzannah - Thanks! I'm trying to embrace a "writing without obligation" philosophy!

@Mary - I have my eye on that drying rack - it's the kind Fake Plastic Fish uses! I love Fake Plastic Fish - I'm in her plastic posse. She's amazing. I hope you'll visit my blog again. You should also check out the Green Phone Booth, where I also write.

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