Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Weighing in.

The first part of our New Year's intention to move our household to zero waste is to look honestly at our current waste output.  What I would like to think our output is and what it actually is may be worth investigating.  We can't change a problematic behavior until we really understand what is at the root of it.

When my husband and I first met, we had both spent time living in community.  It was living in community where I was first exposed to buying in bulk, cooking from scratch, composting, chopping wood and so much more.  I was a child raised in the suburbs of Chicago.  I grew up eating yellow floppy cheese unwrapped by the slice.  First seeing glass jars filled with herbs and beans, buckets filled with peanut butter, and handmade salves was mind-expanding to say the very least.  I knew I had a lot to learn, and I soaked it up like a sponge.  My husband and I committed ourselves to continue living in this way.

Fast forward 10 years and three kids later, in many ways we still are living our ethic of having the smallest footprint we can.  We garden and preserve food, we do not have technological devices other than one family laptop, we search out used goods before purchasing anything new, we have held a strong line with our children around no plastic or battery operated toys because of the waste they create. However, when it comes to food in particular or how we obtain bought goods, we have slipped, and into our lives an enormous amount of plastic packaging has slipped in with it.

We are a country obssessed with consuming.  We throw away objects not because their use has ended, but because our desire for the object has ended.  This is most evidently true with technology.  People dispose of working technology when the next version is released, not because they need it, but because they want it.  Collectively, we need to realize that our wants have impacts.  We need to ask ourselves more often is my want for this object, my want for this thing more important than its impact on our environment?  More important than securing healthy air and water for our grandchildren?  Consumerism is a disease that is strangling our planet, stripping it of its vital resources that are needed to sustain us.  Resources needed to guarentee our grandchildren's future.  We need to start making our choices with future generations in mind. 

It is not my intention to preach over the next year, but to offer my own personal reflection with my family and share what we discover here.  It is my hope that as we learn, you can learn along side of us, or share with us the changes you are making. The first part of that journey is us being honest with what our current impact is.  Every Wednesday in my little town the dump opens and we drive our garbage & recycling down.  There is no garbage pick up in many rural areas.  Each Wednesday we will weigh our trash & recycling and share our stats here.  This will give us an idea of our starting place and help us to set goals for the future.  We will be weighing in with a household scale, so this is far from scientific.

Our weekly weigh in starting off:
Garbage: 3 pounds
Recycling: 6 pounds

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Intention 2018

Our zero waste intention.

As a family we are making a New Year’s intention this year to be mindful of our spending and how our spending impacts the earth in terms of the waste we create.  As a family, we are hoping to find ways to reduce our collective trash and ultimately move toward being a zero waste household. 

It is a lofty goal inspired in part by a hike we took on our road on Thanksgiving Day.  We hiked into the woods and stumbled upon an old homestead dumpsite.  Beneath our feet clanged layers of old tin cans, discarded appliances, old bottles, and toys.  It was both a treasure trove and a humbling reminder to see the legacy one family can leave behind and its direct impact on the health of the environment it exists within.  My children exclaimed with pride how we do not have this kind of waste at our house.  We had to quickly remind them that in fact we do and it was probably much, much worse.  We just have the convenience of having it taken “away.”  Such a magical and inaccurate word, “away.”

We are beginning an intention of consuming less and finding new ways to consume within our local economy to reduce our family’s waste.  We will document what we learn along the way here.  In many, many ways my family makes the most ecological choices we can, but there are definitely areas where we have slacked in the name of convenience and this intention is a way of keeping us honest with ourselves to make sure we are doing the best we can to live respectfully with all beings on this precious planet we call home.

Our goals:
  • To limit our purchases and try to buy nothing new (thrift store purchases and Craigslist of secondhand items are okay).
  • To take full responsibility for our trash both home and away.
  • To reduce our garbage output to hopefully have the last 4-6 months of the year be zero waste months (including the holidays).
  • Less stuff, less distractions, more meaningful time together.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

muddy footed mondays: 2.29.16

        A moment each week to celebrate family life intimately entwined with earth.

Monday, February 8, 2016

muddy footed mondays: 2.8.16

             A moment each week to celebrate family life intimately entwined with earth.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

done enough.

Much of my children's early years were spent with some part of our home looking something like this:

Over the last five years my husband and I have s-l-o-w-l-y renovated our home.  We have done all of the inside work ourselves with the help of a dear friend who always seemed to show up during the worst of the manual labor (thank you Jim).  We have torn down walls, put up different walls, moved walls, wired electricity, pulled up subfloor, tiled, installed wood flooring, drywalled, mudded and sanded, painted, dropped windows (oops), replaced windows, replaced doors; you name it, we did it.  

It has been slow, slow work and we have learned a great deal along the way.  As I look around my house now, it's easy for me to look at all of the work still to be done.  There are doors to hang, trim to finish and still more flooring to install, but that is for the years to come.  For now we have declared our home "done enough."  It is done enough to be livable and safe for our kids, it is done enough that it feels more and more like a home again.  The truth is, we began the work as an act of love; we both love to use our hands, but construction and children don't always make for the best companions. The house is done enough, and being present for our children is also an act of love, so they are the focus of our love and attention for now.  The floors and trim can wait.

I am writing this post so that on the days I look around and feel overwhelmed by the unfinished projects surrounding us, I can see how far we've come, and I can remind myself to settle into the joy of having a home that is done enough.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

time together.

There has been a great deal of fighting in my house these days.  I don't want to pretend like fighting has never happened here before; it has.  But there is a new level of sibling discord here that we have never seen before.  My husband and I scratch our heads and wonder, Is it their ages?  So much changes as the three of our kids move in and out of their individual stages.  Is it their new school? There have been ups and downs with a transition to a new school for our oldest two children. Is it me?  All too often I wonder if there isn't something I am missing, somewhere I am failing them. Sometimes I can even hear my own voice in their harshness, a humbling reminder of my own work to do in managing stress.  There are so many variables, but there is a new reality in my house: a lot of sibling squabbles.

My first instinct is to divide and conquer - separate them and give them all some space.  But any parent who is outnumbered knows there is no way to separate children in a way that gives them all individual attention.  Someone always feels left out.  The second option was to go out and do something fun together as a family; this was met with groans.  With their new school comes a great deal more time in the car.  The last thing they want to do is get in the car on the weekend.  So we decided Saturday to stay home together.

In the past there are three things that always brought my children together; imaginative play, crafting of any kind, and time spent in nature.  So we decided we would take a walk in the woods to find materials for crafting.  Something happened in our time in the woods; we found one another again. We walked through the woods gathering bark, needles, pine cones and sticks to make wands and who knows what else.  We played hide and seek, which is usually track and seek in the winter, but it's a bit harder to track on the sheer ice that covers the ground this January.  You could feel the energy shift. It's funny how my instinct was to separate us all, but what we truly needed was to be together.

We came in and spent the day working on countless creative playthings.  Wizard wands, wooden swords, fairies and forest creatures, pine cone cars, and even a woodland rockstar.  Time spent in nature and crafting of all kinds led into imaginative play.  My children had found their happy place with one another.  As a parent, watching them - all together - lost in play has been my greatest gift.  I know these days are fleeting.  It won't be much longer that I can catch the three of them donning butterfly wings swimming together across the yoga room floor, but I will do everything I can to encourage it while it will last.

I wish I could tell you this happy, together time lasted all weekend.  That would be a fairy tale and I only deal in muddy truths, but it did last for one whole late January day and that is a win in my book. As parents we learn to cherish the good moments, however fleeting they may be, for the next struggle is right around the corner.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

turning thirty-eight, a celebration in photos.

Today I am thirty-eight.  I celebrated the day of my birth by taking a hike with my beloved, followed by a little silliness at the river. The afternoon was punctuated by unexpected calls and visits and hugs from friends and family and the gift of a little time alone to dip brushes in paint.  An incredible meal and a campfire marked the descent into night.  All in all, it was a simple, yet full, day spent almost entirely out-of-doors with the people I love.  My soul is full and I am saturated with gratitude.  Now to lie under the stars and catch a glimpse of the leonids....a celestial ending to a most incredible, earthly celebration.