Thursday, April 12, 2012

Our Sustainable Lifestyle

Today I thought I’d talk about the lifestyle we have adopted, how and why we live the way we do.  I want to say up front, that I am not writing this to say, “Oh, look how superior I am to you, you are not doing X, Y, Z like I am.  I am not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking/doing.  This is just part of how we live, no judgment about how others choose to live.  I think we all can learn so much about each other just by looking at the seemingly boring details of our daily existence.  The reason I wanted to write about this is that although the details of our lives seem normal to us, I know that our lives are different from many others, so here is how.  I am going to break up this conversation into several blog posts.  This first post will be entitled “Our Sustainable Lifestyle”.  It will be followed by “Our Frugal Lifestyle”, “Our Homemade Lifestyle” and “Our Simple Lifestyle”.   Keep your eye out because I'm thinking of throwing in a giveaway of one of my handmade goodies to one post!

With both my husband and I being trained in the profession of wildlife biology we are very knowledgeable about the environment and the impact of man’s actions upon it.  We try to do things to lessen our impact upon the earth and its inhabitants, human and non- human.  When we started out we were as clueless as most folks and really only recycled and ate wild game.  As we’ve matured we’ve incorporated more changes into our lives.  These changes came gradually but not without vision.  I try to make several changes each year that will not only be beneficial to the environment but to our budgets as well.  The great thing is that frugality and sustainability go hand in hand!  I’ll delve into frugality further in an upcoming post .

Here is a list of things we do now to support our sustainable lifestyle. 
-          Vegetable garden, without the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides.  Our fertilization consists of horse manure that people give us for free (raise your hand if you love free shit!!).  We till the manure into the soil before planting.  Supplemental fertilization is in the form of liquid fertilizer that we make with grass clippings that are fermented in water for about 3 days.  Then the grass is strained off and the resulting (cow manure smelling) water is poured on the plants that need fertilizer.  Pests are removed by birds, other insects and by hand.  My kids like to eat straight out of the garden. I refuse to put any chemicals on the veggie or flower garden.  We do use a spot of round up from time to time, but I’m even looking into an alternative to that. 

-          Can and freeze extra veggies and fruit from our (and food we are given) garden. 

-          Jeremy hunts and fishes a lot as well and furnishes us with most of our dietary meat.  How is this sustainable?  Glad you asked!  When we eat animals that are living in the wild lands and waters we are not supporting industrial agriculture, specifically confined feeding operations where animals are raised in a way animals were never intended to live. This produces tons of waste that becomes a huge soil and water quality issue.   When we do get other meat it is usually from a small local farmer who cares for a small number of animals and they are treated like animals, not machines.
-          We try to get eggs from local folks who have backyard flocks.  Usually their feed isn’t organic however in many cases local trumps organic.  And many times local farmers, gardeners and using many organic methods but are not certified.  I’d rather support my neighbor that Wal-Mart, wouldn’t you?
-          We buy the kids organic milk about 75% of the time, it is somewhat cost prohibitive.
-          I make my own cleaning spray, vinegar and water w/ essential oil to cut the vinegar smell.  No Windex or Clorox spray bought here.
-          Use old t-shirts and towels for cleaning rags. 
-          Make our own cloth napkins.
-          Make my own hankies.
-          Use reusable shopping bags. 
-          We gather seasonal foods, such as mushrooms, berries, other fruits and nuts.
-          I get a lot of hand me downs for kids clothes and do a lot of second hand shopping.  Not making new things is a very important way to live more sustainably.  There is so much crap out there that buying used is pretty easy and very frugal too!
-          I have recycled for years.  I’ve never had curbside recycling.  I’ve always had to drive in into a recycling center, I do it gladly!

These changes were not made overnight.  They have gradually come as I have done more reading and research.  There are tons more things that I could be doing but we will continue to add other sustainable practices gradually to our lifestyle.  I few changes I’d like to make are, hanging out some laundry, and trying homemade laundry detergent.  I have tried some things that haven’t worked for our family.  I tried homemade dishwasher detergent.  It didn’t work well for us, neither did homemade toilet cleaner.  My rule for homemade cleaning products is that if it doesn’t work as well as the bought ones, then I won’t switch.   I hope that this gave you some ideas about how to live a bit more sustainably.  You may already be doing these things and more.  Either way, I’d love to hear your ideas!


Anonymous said...

Like the post. All sounds great. My dad does the same thing with the animal shit! Guess it runs in the family. I would live to live the way y'all are living. I make my own cleaners too
Your cousin hannah

Jo said...

YOu are an inspiration! I am trying to purge unnecessary crap from the house. My rule... If I buy a new article of clothing I must give one piece away. Usually I end up donating two or three pieces per one new one. I donate to the Goodwill, which is so easy cuz it's a block away. This rule is tough as the sis's and I love to "resale" shop. I ponder more often now before a puchase, "do I really need this and what will I give away". small steps for me but I have a goal and you guys are helping me look at what more I can do. Good for you!!!! Veggie garden however? Ugh, totally not my thing. Can't grow mold even if I tried. I must not be my mother's daughter!

Jo said...

oh, by the way, jo jackson!!!