Putting On My Super Hero Big Girl Panties

My recent absence from this blog is an indicator that I , myself , am much like you.  I share my journey to simplicity through 0DB31FC6-2FF9-418B-9D53-BE9B9F5C7390writing, but I claim no expertise. I struggle. My house is still as messy and cluttered as yours (maybe worse, even), my schedule has a tendency to get out of control, and the chaos can easily become overwhelming.  It’s a challenge to write on a subject when you’re knee deep in it crashing down around you.

Our daughter recently returned home from a mission trip to New York State with our church youth group. I had missed her, and her dad had to go into work, so I agreed to take her and a friend to see a movie that evening.  We saw The Incredibles 2, a fun film!  During it I heard my daughter lean over and say to her friend, about Elastigirl, “She looks like my mom!”  Mind you, this comment didn’t come as this flexible super-mom reached beyond-human lengths (literally!) to perform an amazing feat or super heroine rescue.  No. She was standing at the bathroom vanity while brushing her teeth and speaking to her husband with a mouthful of toothpaste!  Nonetheless, we do share a physical resemblance and my ego was just a tad inflated, briefly, to have heard my 14 year old daughter compare me to a super hero.

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Ellen Parr, Elastigirl, from the Pixar franchise The Incredibles

Undoubtedly , I fall short – so short – of claiming such a grandiose title. I struggle, REALLY struggle, under the daily weight of responsibility and obligations. I think, if only I had enough time, or energy, to get this or that done. If only I could snap my fingers and my house, yard, gardens and shed would be decluttered, clean, and in perfect order. If only I had the super-power and strength, the amazing flexibility of Elastigirl…

How can I get there? You have followed me as I’ve taken time off work to make serious strides in our basement. You’ve been with me while I took a leap of faith into a smaller, more manageable closet of clothes, pondered ways to reduce my carbon footprint, and even as I attempted different methods of gardening to produce more food with less effort and limited space for my family… These are all things I do not regret and I have definitely learned from and strive to continue.

However, life marches on and keeps throwing new curves. Yep. We’ve had lots of green beans this year! Some tomatoes are starting to ripen, I’m assuming all is well under keeps with the potatoes, the loofah are growing on vines with vibrant yellow flowers, and pears are hanging low on the trees waiting to be harvested. But… I have had another year of battling the critters. It is so disheartening to lose ALL of our zucchini, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, acorn squash, and kale. No blueberries, peaches, or apples. Not a single bite has been left unconsumed by the groundhog, bunnies, deer… Yes. It is very frustrating.

Has my wardrobe grown? Sure – I’ve added a few pieces here and there. But the seasons have changed here, and I am still pretty committed to letting go of what isn’t working, I haven’t used, or have upgraded.

Not sure where my environmental footprint stands these days (feeling like Bigfoot here), but I can say that with recent news stories I am convicted more than ever that we need to stop using all of this “throw-away” plastic and packaging. I am wishing there were more places that would commit somehow to selling items with less packaging. It actually sickens me to realize how much we alone toss, as one small family, and even the amount of our weekly recyclables. It’s staggering.

And the basement? Oh. The basement. It continues in its apparent quest to mock me and remain the family dumping ground and go-to spot for quick stash and dash operations!  I am taking another week in September and will be tackling some of these long-neglected on-going projects once again.

So, now that I’ve “come clean” – yeah, that’s right, corny pun fully intended. It is time for me to put on my big girl panties (or Elastigirl cat suit!) and stop wallowing in my emotionally-stagnating LACK of self-proclaimed simplicity. It’s time to take responsibility for my part in this ongoing declutter of so many areas of my life, stop being overwhelmed by it, and do what I can to continue moving toward the beautiful, uncluttered life of my dreams. It’s that simple.

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A Pinterest-Worthy Garden

IMG_9165This year I have created my first Pinterest-worthy vegetable garden.  It’s far from perfect, but I justify referring to it in this way because of all the research, learning, planning, and serious effort that went into the final product. 🙂  I should say that, though I have been organically growing since I started gardening, I have come from the old school of tilling the ground and planting in rows.  Over the cold winter months, however, I spent much time visiting blogs, listening to podcasts, collecting images and ideas on social media, reading books, and learning all I could about different methods of growing food for my family.

During this time I quickly came to the conclusion that there is not one technique only that will work for us. Instead, I was intrigued by varying types of ideas.  Using a number of these this spring, I was able to create an aesthetically pleasing garden, planting a variety of vegetables in a limited space to feed my family.  I believe it will be a work in progress as I implement different methods and varieties of vegetables over the next couple of seasons to determine what thrives, what veggies we really enjoy, and which methods produce best and make the most sense for us.

There are, as mentioned, a few ideas that I have begun to put into practice this year.  One of those is vertical gardening.  For the first time I have used a few different types of trellises: A bamboo tee-pee for climbing beans, a square cucumber trellis, and an a-frame for varying types of squash, under which I have also planted some more shade-happy varieties of greens such as lettuce and spinach.  In addition, I am trying no-frame raised beds.

As most do, I planned and dreamed of what I would plant while waiting for spring to come.  I poured over catalogs, bought my seeds, and was careful to look for organic and heirloom seeds only.  I am very interested in food sources that will return year after year, or seeds that can be saved from season to season, having a proven track record for being hardy varieties and growing well in our area.

 

With my mind set on my first attempt at no-till gardening, I was heavily discouraged by our lingering winter weather with late snows, freezing cold, and frost that wouldn’t stop. I was wishing that I’d known more about no-till methods in the fall and had prepped the ground then for spring, but since I didn’t, I was confused about when to begin and missed the mark when I should have started laying something on the ground to start killing off grass and weeds before the weather turned.  Before we knew it we’d gone from winter into summer-type weather without much of a spring, and the pressure was on to get all of my seedlings into the ground and we ended up tilling.  We did add loads of peat moss, and I created no-frame raised beds, covered them in mulch, with fresh straw for walkways between the beds.  I am hoping that this will do a good job of keeping the weeds at bay.

We were able to get a chicken wire fence around the garden to keep those pesky groundhogs and bunnies at bay this year, and I have employed many marigold and nasturtium flowers to repel them as well.

Large pots were put into use for the first time, as well, to stretch growing space, and I will also continue to plant seeds on varying weeks to stagger harvest times and keep food reaching its peak consecutively instead of all at once.IMG_9163

It has been several weeks and so far we have seen kale, lettuces, green beans, and asparagus. I am patiently awaiting other vegetables to start growing.  The foliage looks great so far, so I am anticipating many types of squash, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries among many others healthy options for our family.

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Simply No Sleep Tonight

So, what do you do when your pets are keeping you awake all night? Write a blog post, of course!  With two cats and a large dog residing with us in our small home, it is not unusual for this to happen.

083B84A4-FA0B-4BF1-B369-97205C429EEAThere seems to be no rhyme or reason to it, and tonight it simply happens that one of our cats insists on being in and out of our daughter’s room, which is right outside of our room.  The door remains closed because said daughter does not keep everything up off of her floor, and our doggie has a penchant for a good sock! So, needless to say the cat needs in, so that she can meow and scratch to get back out, so she can meow and scratch to get back in, and so on and so forth. This can go on endless times as fickle kitty can’t make up her mind. (Can’t we just clone her to be in two places at once?, I start to wonder around the 10th time of crawling out of bed to open and close our daughter’s bedroom door.)

It was only a matter of time before the dog, who was sound asleep under our bed, would be disturbed by the ruckus and decide it was time to get up and add a little bit of her own action.

Sinced I’d crawled in bed early, I hadn’t taken her out for her final potty break of the night. As soon as I said “outside, go potty” our Golden Retriever had a burst of energy, bouncing and flouncing on the bed as I tried to sleepily pull myself from it, yet again. Because we live in a cold winter clime, I had to dawn a coat and boots, waking my husband in the process, who had fallen asleep on the couch watching tv. Sure, if I have to be up, why shouldn’t he? Lol!

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Out we went. Tromping through the snow, down past the berry patch, fruit trees, the garden area, and duck coop, making our way over the hill for a little “rest stop” along the way, and some exercise for us both (and wanted by only one of us!). After nosing around for some tracks, some droppings, checking the deer feeding stations and salt lick our neighbor keeps, and the bunny tunnels in the straw and grass clippings out behind the shed, we made our way back up the hill for a little raucous “frapping” in the snow, as we call it – when a dog simply breaks into a manically fast sprint of abandon in circles and all around the house or back yard, all in fun. Willow loves the snow and has a favorite level spot in the yard where she likes to let this urge take over!

All business done, we’re back in the house all cozied down again with fingers crossed for a bit of peaceful rest. Following one last bout of “I simply must chew my noisy bone at the foot of the bed, and shaking the whole mattress while I’m at it…” we are now finally settled and, I hope, ready to get some sleep in the few meager hours left before sunrise.

Goodnight!  Rest peacefully.

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Oh. My.  I just realized it’s Daylight Saving Time and I am losing an hour, to boot! 😱

The Ever-Tempting Capsule Wardrobe

For a while now I have been kicking around the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe. I am in awe of those who have managed to reduce their full wardrobe down to a bare minimum of pieces.

My closet has been thinned and the dresser gone through a few times over the last year. I am preparing to do so again soon.  So, I have been contemplating the subject yet another time.

It seems that I should be able to manage this. I am fashionable by no means. I don’t collect shoes, and I don’t often buy new clothes for myself. It wouldn’t be difficult to manage with the wardrobe that I’ve got with no worries of pining for the latest styles and accessories. So, what’s the issue then? Well, there actually are a few things that have me stumped.

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For example – we live in the North East where we experience all 4 seasons – during which we require different types of appropriate apparel. Another thing is the fact that I work in an office, but my personal style “at home” is very sporty and relaxing… I’m talking yoga pants and hoodies or flannel shirts, jeans and tennis shoes, or boots.  And I do own exercise clothes which I, personally, consider to be vital to my motivation and attempts at maintaining a regular exercise routine.

Some may argue that you can just wear a t-shirt and shorts, which is fine, but it is still another piece of clothing – so, why not? Anyway, my point here is that I don’t desire to have a capsule wardrobe, and be getting sweaty by exercising in business attire, because I will only “allow” myself so many articles of clothing.

7AEED3C6-7EF9-4BC3-BE7D-27D3AC0D0FFEAnother set of wardrobe consider-ations that have me stumped are my 5 gardens. I spend a good amount of time in the warmer months working hard and getting soiled in my extra “work” clothes that are ok to ruin.

So, while loving the idea of a simplified wardrobe, I think that what you do is simply a matter of personal taste. That’s the beauty of a simplified life – there are no requirements. There is no contest. A simplified life can look many different ways. And each new endeavor that you take on to simplify should reflect your own personal style and values.

So, if you are young, fashionable and living in a downsized city apartment, a capsule wardrobe may be just the thing for you! Go for it! And let me know how it goes.

776DF8E4-1F81-4555-AA4A-45C420FBA9FBOn the other hand, if you are a rural suburban mom experiencing all four seasons, who works in an office, attends fundraising functions, drives the carpool, does volunteer work, and gets dirty on the weekends while decluttering the garage, hiking in the woods, or shlepping a wheelbarrow and shovel… maintaining a few smaller wardrobes with select items just might work for you.

So don’t be discouraged. Assess what you have, what you can live without, and what is essential in your wardrobe. Then dig in!

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A Blank Slate

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The simple joy of an autumn morning in Pennsylvania.

There’s nothing quite so simple as a clean slate. A blank page staring back at me, waiting to be filled with something worthwhile. Something that may inspire someone, give new perspective, or maybe validate someone else’s efforts to live a more minimal lifestyle. But the words don’t come.

I sit and ponder the very idea of why minimalism is so important in my life. What has led me down this path of simplicity, spurring me on to be the best me I can be?

First, I think it is something inherent in me. Not from my mom and dad, or in the way I was raised, but many other things that have come together to mold me into the person that I am. I like to think that in my ancestry maybe somebody somewhere led a joyous life and thrived without a lot of baggage or stuff. Perhaps someone who lived in a small wooded cabin, Irish cottage, or even a humble prairie Soddy. Getting by with only those items they needed to survive and provide for their family. That’s all I really want. Joy in the little things. Life in the people I love. To be humble. More compassionate. Tied less to objects and desires, and impressions, and more to experiences, contentment in the blessings I’ve been given, and the carefree peace and attitude that comes with a greater confidence in who I am.

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The shadow of autumn perrenials on my dew-covered car window. The simple joy of our surroundings when noticed.

There’s our culture. The Western World is so driven. So many other nations, and I’m not even talking third world countries here, know how to live with less, take pride in, and great care of, the few useful, worthwhile items they possess. They know how to slow down, socialize and rest.

Not the least of reasons is our own culture. The Western World is so driven, by work, attaining more, and the stressful lives we lead. We watch shows on television depicting real people that can’t let go of their stuff. Even to the point of saving actual trash that they eventually have to climb over to get from place to place inside of their home. Folks that must compulsively buy, everywhere they stop, to fill some void. Or regularly wrack themselves with envy over what their neighbor has, fearing how others will judge them if they do not “measure up” to some high standard in their own minds, which leaves them living in a state of depression and bitterness over what they don’t have instead of simple enjoyment in what they do possess.

I don’t want this struggle to be mine, or my family’s. I want our evenings to stop being about exhaustion, lethargy, and guilt about the things around us that aren’t getting done. And our weekends to stop being about anything but rest and family time. Because we’ve got to cram so much upkeep into such a short amount of time, we are missing out on life as it rapidly passes us by. And we’re not the only ones.

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭TLV‬‬

 

 

The Joy of A Simple Saturday

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One week has passed since I completed my 5 Day Purge.  Many things are still awaiting our attention, and will be. Nothing is final. But there is definite movement to keep things going in a positive direction.  I made a list of some smaller, or ongoing projects that I can jump in and complete when time allows and I know the declutter must go on. But I am not writing to tell about those areas of my life. Instead, I wanted to share the relaxed pace of our Saturday. A lot is being accomplished, but it is not at the crazy hurried pace that it usually is. I think having fewer items around us, and keeping some clear and usable spaces in our small home this week, has made a notable difference.

For instance, leading up to today, I stayed on top of my planning, created meals that would work for our family, exercised more, got more rest, drank more water, and ate less (and much more healthy) than I had been. I moved about and completed tasks at a more deliberate pace and enjoyed my family, loved ones and friends each day. A welcome change of pace in my uber busy life.

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I slept slightly later than I normally do this morning, and as I woke, stretched and listened to the birds singing joyfully. With a smile on my face my feet hit the floor and I peeked out the window to see if our visiting doe was grazing under the apple tree. Then I tossed on some walking gear, harnessed the dog, and took her out for an early morning walk while it was still cool.

Afterward, while enjoying my morning coffee, I read my dovotion and wrote in my prayer journal. Then joined my hubby in the kitchen and made myself a duck egg, toast from a crusty loaf of bread with a bit of local apple butter, and poured another hot cup to enjoy at the table with him. (The same table we played two of those unearthed games at the night before – and as a family, decided to keep one and ditch the other!)

Once I cleaned up the kitchen a bit, and hubby and I had enjoyed a productive discussion about a wonderful, large window we’re going to add to our dining room (I’m all about letting in as much sunlight as possible and bringing the outdoors in!) I made my way out to my perennial gardens to trim roses and remove the dead plants for fall. (Will probably need to get back in there to winterize before November.)

As I trudged my way down over A8D117F3-EA3B-49B1-A737-351635D68B63the hill to unload my wheelbarrow, I once again noticed black walnuts dropping from the tree. So I decided to grab a couple of small buckets to go back down and gather them. I recently discovered it this summer growing amongst the other trees and was pleasantly surprised to be able to try our hands at drying tree nuts.

If you have never seen a black walnut in it’s most natural form, they almost look like small green oranges and have a pleasant, surprisingly citrusy, smell. I would have saved some photos of them, and the process we followed, but my husband was already into them by the time I came back up over the hillside. (Maybe next year!) So, for now, the walnuts are spread out over a table drying in the sun and breezy wind.

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A fire has been burning out back all afternoon with plans of stoking it to roast a few hot dogs with neighbors tonight, to enjoy a little friendly chatter and catching up.

So will end my day. A day full of margin. Patience, fun, trying new things, getting something done, working hard, planning, and best of all – joy!

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“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Day 5: Finding Satisfaction In The Process

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Day 5 has come to a close and I made it! I can relax and no longer spend every moment decluttering or thinking about what to do next. And yet, I know that this is just the beginning. Just a scratching of the surface that goes so much deeper to create the life of simplicity I long for – for both me and my family. I believe there is a fire behind this newly gained momentum that will fuel a relentless pursuit in me.

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Some may wonder why I didn’t share more before and after photos, or step by step how-to’s.  I believe that everyone has to find the formula that works best for them. The simple question that I ask myself, whenever the letting go of an item proves hard is this: Does this item help me to move forward in my vision of a more simplified life? Most often than not, that answer is no.

But we each have our own reason for downsizing, letting go, simplifying, or whatever you want to call it. Mine is a process that will play out over time. Maybe when I’m a famous blogger I will share more before and after photos with you. Lol! But for now, I think I’ll sit back and bask in what I know has been accomplished in these last 120 hours. And it has been enough to give me a taste of what it could be like should everything have a place, and everything be in its place.

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“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Day 2: The Five Day Purge Continuation

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Day two was a bit of a slower pace, but constant. I wasn’t quite sure where to start, there is so much to do and I want it all done now! I know that’s not possible. As they say – your house didn’t get this messy overnight and it’s not going to be clean overnight either. So, I carried on at a turtle’s pace.

It was good. I got much of the kitchen and living room done today as well as tossing all expired items from the bathroom cabinets. My accomplishments are definitely more visible today (in our well-used living spaces) than behind closed doors, in the yet unfinished office. So, I will share some photos here:

No amazing revelations or finds this time, but our girl has a friend staying the night after a school dance. They rode the bus home together and we all ate pizza and appetizers (at the dining room table once again) and enjoyed one another’s company. I will admit to feeling a little bit of pride at the much clearer space to welcome a guest into. Can I just insert here how amazed I am by people who live and thrive in tiny spaces!? Please let me know if you live in a tiny house.

So, my next step is much larger. The basement. Eager to get in there! We have been wanting to finish it for a long time and expand our usable living area. However, each time I complete a huge effort downstairs, it fills back up again because the upstairs overflows, and more stuff continues to come in. Why? Because try as I might I must admit to not always being a good steward of the things we have. It’s time to let go and clear out those things that we truly do not need. To stop more excess of stuff from entering in so we can enjoy more excess of life.

A more conscious effort must be made. Is it time for me to start my own challenge of not making any unnecessary purchases for a specified amount of time? I am enthralled by reading of folks that have managed to go an entire year without making a single purchase. Hmm… may be something to consider, on an experimentally smaller scale, following the completion of my 5 Day Purge.

I am ready to begin again.

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What’s Really Important To Me?

This is a question that I have needed to pause and ask myself. While I have many areas in my life that are important to me, and have a broad vision of where I want to be, I have never listed these areas out, set goals and created a clear and concise plan to reaching and settling into that place.

When I imagine my life of simplicity, I feel a passion and longing for the vision that it generates for me… that’s immediately followed by a sense of defeat. Like many people, I struggle with overwhelm as daily living creeps in and often pulls me in many directions – Away from my ultimate goal to lead a more simplified life.

My vision definitely includes clear surfaces, a bright, clean home with light colors and loads of sunshine coming in… open windows and open doors! A bit of margin in my schedule for family, dear friends, and the things that I am passionate about – like my church, nature, gardening, journaling, more time to write this blog, and things like drawing or learning to crochet.

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It seems that if I could just have enough energy, time, and clarity to begin with, I would be able to get my life “under control.” I have felt drawn for weeks now to get into my tiny kitchen on a sunny day and start the purge. Toss, find a place for much used items, and move other items that get some use, but not daily, to a designated area in the basement. If my little kitchen was clean, shined up, and organized, I feel like other areas would start to fall into place. Like, for instance – meal planning, home cooking and baking, eating healthy meals together around the dining table, gathering family for cards or board games, and fellowship with friends.  Hmmm… all of that. Just from cleaning and organizing a tiny kitchen.

Do my husband and I want our family to live off-grid? Well, some semblance of that sure would be nice. Our home, situated on a windy hill with no trees close to the house, would be the ideal spot for both wind and solar power. Even if it were just supplemental. So this is something we look into often and is a possible goal for the extended future.

We already live in a small home, so that part of my dream is in place. It’s the downsizing and ease of living in a small space that we have yet to master. We have our ducks, the gardens, and our pear and apple trees. Plus we are considering a small orchard, and have thought about hives for bee keeping. So there are many responsibilities, and opportunities, for enjoyable rural suburban living.

Sure, some of these ideas are a far way off, but some could be closer than I think if I just stop dreaming and planning and start more of the actual doing.

I know that everyone’s idea of simple living is different. For me, the attainable goal is first and foremost to live in our small home in comfort. A decluttered, minimal lifestyle, with no frills.  A home of usable items only, that serve a clear purpose or can be used to accomplish more than one task, ease of cleaning, and never a moment of panic when someone unexpectedly stops by. I want to practice kindness and hospitality, enjoying friends, neighbors and family at a moments notice. I want to gather around our farm table, lounge on our back porch, or relax around the fire pit laughing and sharing stories without worrying that there’s too much clutter or that there is so much that needs to be done that I can’t stop and take time for others.

I’m well aware that this is a process. It will not happen overnight, and the best place for me to start is by cleaning up and minimizing in the kitchen.

So… I’m off to do a bit of that journaling to draw up a step by step plan for reaching the goal of simplicity, and will begin by digging into that kitchen! I would LOVE to hear from some of you that have achieved simplicity and where you started? What are some good resources or advice?

Some of my own favorite resources are:

Flylady.net

Sink Reflections by Marla Ciley

The Complete Guide to Getting & Staying Organized by Karen Ehman

Balance by Beth Jones

Taming The To-Do List by Glynnis Whitwer

Overwhelmed by Kathy Lipp and Cheri Gregory

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Joyce Meyer

The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier

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Best to all who are in this with me, and to those contemplating the idea. It can be done! And it starts with motivation, support, and a willingness to dig in and let go!

“…Clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:4‬

 

 

 

Stomping Out My Carbon Footprint

I’ve been contemplating my carbon footprint lately. Thinking about little ways that I can make a difference. I already have strong personal feelings about walking when I can, recycling, buying local, wearing classic clothing that will last for seasons – preferably years (or buying secondhand to begin with), saving and using items I’ve already got, gardening, making purchases with less packaging, etc.

So when I went online to calculate my actual footprint, I was aghast at the results. Admittedly, I did not know the exact answers to many of the questions off the top of my head, but made my best estimated guesses just to get an idea.

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Well, I am ashamed to admit that it is significantly larger than I would have thought. In fact, it is larger than the average American. What!? I don’t fly, drive recreational motor vehicles, have a sauna or heated pool or jacuzzi… and our house is one step away from being featured as a “tiny home.” Luckily, a footprint can be significantly lowered with some minor changes. Here are a few things I have learned during  my research. Some will not only be easier on the environment but will save you a decent amount of cash over time and many are good for your health as well. (Bear with me if these are not new to you.)

img_7004Power down your gadgets. Unplugging your chargers when not in use, and putting your computer into sleep mode can save you hundreds of dollars and help save the planet.

Adjust your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two in winter. This can also save you 15% on your heating bill.

Invest in a programmable thermostat that can be set to shut off, or dramatically reduce the temperature setting, when you will not be at home.

img_6900It may be a little cliche, but I love this one. Plant a tree. One 10 year old tree releases enough oxygen to support two human lives.

Wean your family from processed foods. Go vegan or raw a couple of days a week. We already have Meatless Mondays at our house, so this is not too much of a stretch for us.

Switch from disposable household products to reusable. Eliminate paper towels and other paper products, invest in reusable sandwich bags, bento boxes, etc. Use your own totes at the grocery store, and buy biodegradable trash bags.

If you live someplace where public transportation is an option, utilize it. But if you can’t, even driving the posted speed limit (or 5 miles less when you can), and avoiding rapid acceleration and braking can alter your fuel consumption.

And of course, my all-time favorite – hang your laundry out in the fresh air and sunshine to dry instead of using the dryer. It will smell wonderful, eliminates most wrinkles, (Hey! No using up electricity to iron either!) and the UV rays from the sun will naturally fade stains on fabric.

I have found that The Great Energy Challenge website is a reasonable place to start. So much information there, and practical ideas for you and your family to begin a new “energy diet.” I will definitely be incorporating several of these ideas into our lifestyle. Some we are already doing, and some may take us a while to implement. But, we’ve got to start somewhere. I believe that by slowly integrating any of these practices into our everyday it will collectively make a difference.

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Isaiah 24:4-5 “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants … .”

Psalm 96:11-13 “Let the heavens rejoice and the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord….”