>> 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.
- I started buying products with no packaging whenever possible and I shop the bulk bins.
- 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.
- See above
- 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.)
- 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.
- I do a lot of thrift store and consignment shopping these days - when I shop at all. I could probably still improve in this area though.
- 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.
- 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.
- See above answer from sweatshop labor. And I can still improve here. Darn Target!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I buy recycled toilet paper, paper towels, and printer paper. We've also worked a lot on conserving paper (i.e. using every inch of every scrap) and reducing our junk mail.
- I have a worm bin.
- 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...
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