Tag Archives: priorities

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 4)

Sticking to my goal this week, I planted a variety of organic vegetable seeds in eggshells: green beans, kale, tomatoes, peas, carrots, spinach, sweet red peppers, and zucchini. They are sitting on a temporary shelf my husband installed for me in the big picture window among my husband’s rescued hibiscus and other plants.

DSCN1149 DSCN1152

In the next week, I plan to plant some herbs, potatoes, and flowers, and then I should be all set for gardening this summer.

While reading other blogs and sites on gardening this past week, I learned that I should not throw our coffee grounds and eggshells in the trash ever again. They make great fertilizer for the garden as well as for shrubs and trees. Saving these is one more practice that contributes to my goal of waste reduction.

Another practice I started this week will also help me reduce waste. In fact, I will no longer need to use toilet paper, which I have despised for many years. It drives me crazy that TP is considered necessary. I don’t know why I never figured out an alternative until this week, but I’m glad for it now. I was reminiscing about post-pregnancy activities (12 years ago for me), and I remembered that I had to use a squirt bottle to wash every time I used the bathroom. Voila! Solution to the TP dilemma found. It seems so silly now because I was prepared to wait for a time when I could install a bidet! Anyway, I will invest in some small dry cloths to set near the commode. Squirt, dry, done! No TP! Now to get the rest of my family to change their ways!

For next week, my goal will be to finish planting and start making some recipes out of The Homemade Pantry.

Thanks for reading!


Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 3)

Spring has suddenly sprung, which has swiveled my sustainable priorities toward planting. In keeping to this week’s goal, I spent a lot of time sifting through The Homemade Pantry. I soon realized that I need to establish a household infrastructure from which to prepare, manage, and store our homemade stock: a variety of glass storage containers, some new cooking tools, a chest freezer, and most importantly, as much homegrown food as possible. After all, I decided I want to make my own granola, popcorn snacks, vanilla extract, toaster pastries, cereal bars, frozen pizzas, ketchup, salsa, salad dressings, and mayo. That list is but the beginning of a longer list of foods I want to make myself. Thus, next week’s goal is to decide what I will grow and how I will grow it.

I continue to be amazed at the inspiration flooding in from unexpected sources. A magical phenomenon emerges when one sets her intentions in a positive direction. For me, this intention-setting started last summer when I visited Peaceful Hearts Ranch in Temecula, California. It’s strange that riding a wild mustang can teach us about the strength of our intentions, but it’s true nonetheless. From Cochina the horse and Kedra the trainer, I learned that my intentions are strong, but my patience is weak, as demonstrated through my breathing. My impatience causes anxiety in the horse, which disrupts the path toward my intentions. I just can’t get over what a wonderful experience that was, so I reflect on it often. It brought me to my current mindset of setting manageable goals, breathing deep and steady until little by little my lifestyle is transformed. BUT I never anticipated how much good company I would encounter along the way!

In addition to the people I carry with me spiritually (like my brother the vegan, daughter the yogi/minimalist, and others too numerous to list), I encounter new people every week traveling parallel journeys. The latter are also too numerous to name, and in sticking to manageability (lest I become overexcited and have to take a lap around the block to calm myself), I want to mention one such encounter from yesterday. One of my students (hello and thank you!) approached me before class with a book, The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller, M.D., containing everything I need to create my daily nutrient checklist I mentioned in a previous post. Prior to learning of my weekly goals and blog, this student spoke to me during a topic workshop about writing her research paper on planning for a sustainable life. (The Law of Attraction is truly amazing, isn’t it?!) Although I can’t take credit for her initial interest in the topic, I wonder what the effect of my enthusiasm for it will be. Her purpose is a noble one: why not learn everything I can about sustainable living now, so I can apply it throughout my life. If I’d only had the knowledge, direction, and maturity at that age (20 years ago), where would I be today?! I was so out of tune then, and so the law of attraction was not working for me. But now, to be in the right place at the right time for at least one young person to start now and take it all the way through, and to consider the people she will influence!!! Aaaahh! (I think I’ll take that lap now!) This experience fits right in with my intention to make young people (including students) my number one priority and my intention to live sustainably. Covering multiple purposes simultaneously is so rewarding!

As for my weekly goal, I’ve made some decisions about infrastructure that I will work on in the coming weeks. With garage sale season upon me, I will pick up as many secondhand containers and cooking tools as I can. I will look into purchasing a chest freezer. I started saving (and asked others to save) egg shells in which I plan to start my seeds. My goal for this week is to decide what and how to plant. Having the added complication of two households at the moment (which will be a topic of another post), the planning is not simple.

Thanks for reading and circulating the inspiration!

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 2)

Last week, I started thinking of all the ways I have incorporated sustainable practices into my life within the last five years (prior to making the goal more intentional and systematic). This week, I thought more about how I can build on those practices:

  • Brushing my teeth with coconut oil. I started this practice about 4 months ago, and I am happy with the results. It is a different experience compared to brushing with toothpaste. I learned to brush with hot water to prevent the drain clogging from the oil. My dentist visits may become unnecessary, as no plaque has formed on my teeth since I began this practice. I do not need to purchase toothpaste at all anymore, thereby saving money, time, and waste. I bought a 30-ounce (reusable) glass jar of coconut oil and still have plenty left after 4 months. Because toothpaste contains fluoride and other toxic chemicals, the oil is a healthier option. I use it for cooking and in my daily smoothies, and I’m certain I will learn other uses for it.
  • Preparing and consuming a daily smoothie. I adopted this practice years ago, abandoned it, and picked it back up a couple months ago. After my daily workout (kickboxing/yoga), I make a smoothie. A few staple ingredients form the base: plain kefir, banana, honey, milled flax seed, nuts (whatever kind I have), and kale. The other ingredients vary but always include some kind of unsweetened frozen fruit or berries. To prevent respiratory and digestive illnesses in the winter months, I always grate fresh ginger root and sometimes lemon into my smoothies. I mainly use raw organic ingredients, and I may throw in anything that is about to go bad. Often, I freeze too-brown bananas for use in my smoothie. This practice contributes to my health, waste reduction, and efficient living goals. Smoothies take about 5 minutes to make/clean up and about 10 minutes to consume.
  • Taking a daily shot of raw organic apple cider vinegar. Prior to starting this practice 2 years ago, I got sick 4 or 5 times every winter and a couple times each summer with either cold or flu. I’ve gotten sick twice total in the past 2 years, and the illness lasted one day each when others around me remained ill for at least a week and, at times, continued coughing for several weeks. This practice eliminates doctor visits, time off work, etc.
  • Purchasing local organic eggs. Years ago, I raised my own chickens until one of my dogs killed them. I plan to raise my own again someday, but for now, I purchase my eggs from some friends of mine who raise free range chickens. We recycle egg cartons and avoid supporting corporate farms. The fresh eggs are so much more flavorful and nutritious than store-bought eggs, which can be up to a month old when purchased.
  • Buying secondhand clothing and other items. I’ve been doing this throughout my life. There’s no reason to buy new clothing etc. when used (and often new) items are available for about a tenth of the brand-new cost. I inspect items carefully for flaws and sometimes purchase items that require a bit of sewing to make them like new again. I find items of greater quality that last longer and allow for a unique style.

Overall, I think this list is a sufficient inventory of sustainable activities for now. It’s important to take stock of how one is already moving toward goals to more effectively select new directions for goal development. From thinking about my current practices, I have realized that I’ve got a solid foundation from which to build a sustainable life. Last week, eating became my top priority, and I ordered a year’s worth of locally produced organic meat.

This week, I researched joining a community-supported agriculture (CSA) membership club. I looked at Small Family Farm, Tree of Life, and Two Onion Farm. I was disappointed to learn that my health insurance company discontinued the CSA rebate program and replaced it with a wellness program toward which I can earn points for healthy activities. Points are redeemed for gift cards, which could be used to offset the cost of CSA membership. I need to look into how my health insurance company plans to use the information from my wellness assessment before I partake in the wellness program. Plus, after considering the costs of joining a CSA, I’ve decided that I’m not sure if it is the most economical route for my family. Preliminarily, I think we would waste too much of our CSA share, and I would rather purchase what I know I will use. It’s just as easy (if not easier) to drive to the farmers’ market or the Driftless Market when necessary as it is to pick up a bi/weekly CSA share.

Although I decided against the CSA this week, I moved closer to two other long-term goals—finding healthy recipes and increasing my daily vegetable intake. The Two Onion Farm website lists recipes by vegetable or herb that I can use to plan meals. I have further speculated that I want to create a daily checklist of foods/nutrients for myself to ensure I am covering all bases. The list will reflect my individual preferences and nutritional needs and will contain a variety of options. (Variety is one thing I cannot live without!!) I will continue to look for ways to prepare and store food. A related goal I’ve been carrying for a few years now is to make more staple foods at home. I bought The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making a couple years ago, and I intend to start using it to fulfill next week’s goal.

All suggestions are welcome! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 1)

Ever since I watched Dive! (http://www.divethefilm.com/) a few years ago, I have been ultra-concerned with the amount of food we waste. I learned that about 50% of all the food produced in the U.S. ends up in the dump. When students approach me about writing on GMOs “because they are going to save the world,” I’m the (annoying) teacher who challenges their thinking by forcing them to consider the amount of food we waste as a potential solution to the food crisis. My request is logical: Do not overstate the impact of any one solution on world hunger. I must admit that my ulterior motive is to save myself from reading another paper on the GMO debate, primarily because the issue is a confusing mess from which no one has derived a clear definition that distinguishes genetically modified from hybridized organisms. After all, humans have been hybridizing crops since agriculture began. Only one of my students has addressed how to solve the food waste problem. Obviously, individuals must first take personal responsibility for their waste and do what they can in their day-to-day lives to eliminate as much garbage as possible. Once I accepted responsibility for my waste, I realized that this endeavor would require a thorough examination of my lifestyle. It’s overwhelming: Almost everything I do creates waste! My epiphany for today is that I need to break my sustainability efforts into manageable pieces of my lifestyle, and I will start with eating. I chose eating first because it captures four priorities: health, efficiency, waste reduction, and avoiding contributions to corporate entities. If my health is good, I will be able to minimize food-related tasks and handle the stressors of life, freeing time for working on goals such as waste reduction. I do not doubt that eating is the most waste-inducing activity of my life. Waste is produced as a result of processing, packaging, preparation, expiration, and digestion. I recently read that meat processing is the most detrimental to our environment. However, I have decided I am not willing to give it up because vitamin B is essential to me. Thus, my sustainable action this week was to call a local organic meat producer (http://www.langefarmmeats.com/) and place an order that should last me one year. The order will cost me about a third of what I usually spend on meat per year. Next week, I will look into joining a CSA for which my health insurance company offers a reimbursement. In the meantime, I will search for recipes that will allow me to prepare and store meals, so I can avoid resorting to fast food when I need to eat on the run.