As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I use January for planning and getting a vision for the upcoming year. One of the intentions, or habits, I set is in the category of caring for the environment and/ or participating in some type of social justice. This is something we as a family commit to doing for the year. Sometimes, the habit is integrated into our lives like brushing our teeth and sometimes it’s something that’s just done once or for that year. We’ve been doing it for about 10 years.
Something to clarify about our intention. This isn’t a task that feels like we are “doing” something good or adding a great big checkmark for good deeds. For us, committing to take care of the Earth or defend people who fall victim to a lack of social justice practice, is as natural as taking a bath or brushing our teeth. It does require discipline and commitment from us, but it doesn’t feel like “doing” because the fruit from our decisions bring us such joy. In the same way, I don’t feel like brushing my teeth is something I have to do because I could choose to walk around with bad breath and rotting teeth; rather, brushing my teeth is something I happily do because I love the end results — teeth to eat amazing food, a happy husband who isn’t repulsed from my breath, and an ease in which I can socialize with others because I’m not self-conscious about my breath. I would say, if it feels like something you’re adding to your to do list only to ease guilt about not doing enough or to make you feel better, then maybe it’s not the right time for you to pick an intention of this type. Again, it is with great joy that we approach this intention, excited to decide what new habit we’re going to develop, knowing with confidence it will impact not just our family but others, some across the globe.
Now, this year’s intention requires a post all its own because I want to share with you some of the habits we’ve done in case you’d like to choose something for you to try. I haven’t listed these in any particular order.
1. Eat Fish and seafood only on the sustainable seafood list. We started this habit when we were members at the Long Beach aquarium. I carried around their consumer guide, which made it very handy to do. All these years later, I still ask my server about any fish item they have, ordering only those things on the sustainable list. Here’s a link to find out more. http://www.seafoodwatch.org/
2 – 3. No more paper towels. Nope. That’s right. We gave up paper towels and only use paper napkins. Just kidding! We gave up all paper hand goods in our house. Well, except for toilet paper. 🙂 We rarely use paper napkins and use reusable items for anything paper towels could do. We have a great supply of cloth napkins and towels. Saves money and the environment!
4. Bought a no emissions car with alternative fuel. We own two cars of this sort (Natural Gas Vehicles — bought about 8 years apart) for commuting but still own gas cars for trips because we can’t use alternative fuel for travelling longer distances. And lest you think I’m perfect, one of them is an SUV.
5. Decrease water use. Don’t shower every day. Few car washes for the purpose of preserving the exterior of the car. Dump out all left over water glasses in plants rather than down the drain. Wash faces with cold water rather than wasting water to warm it up. Baths for the kids are filled only 1/3 high. My children are not deprived as one mother told me when I said they never got a full bath. Instead, they’ve created wonderful water play without the need to have a full bath tub. This is all they’ve known so they wouldn’t even dream of filing the bathtub with unnecessary water.
6. Used our fruit from the fruit trees. We had two major producing citrus trees so one year we made sure we gave lots away and didn’t let any go to waste.
7. Bought all environmentally friendly cleaning products. We changed out all the cleaning products that have toxins with products from Seventh Generation, Method and Mrs. Meyers.
8. Eliminated use of all store bags. We got reusable bags and eventually got a system down so we used and use them regularly. As many people who are trying to develop this habit say, it’s a process. You have to take the time to figure out what works for your family because remembering the bags is almost the entire battle to actually successfully accomplishing this task. (Buying and having the bags is easy!)
9. Beach Clean-ups. We live in a beach city so one year we committed to cleaning the beach during the major beach clean-up days. We would also throw away at least one item of trash when we visited the beach.
So that’s our ten year journey of trying to leave as little footprint as we can on this earth.