Since making my move and beginning my fresh new and improved lifestyle I have been coming up with ideas and experimenting with them. I feel like I have been bursting with new passions which have sprung up. I’m going to share a few with you and would love to hear about yours.
The more I have simplified my life I found I had plenty of free time and worried at first that I wouldn’t know what to do with it. Low and behold I had a constant well of new ideas to try out.
- Create a sense of community with my neighbors. To accomplish this I set out a few extra chairs and invited anyone who wanted to to use them whether I was here or not. A few of the people who live upstairs appreciated a place to sit. By doing this people began to talk about what was missing from their home life. Mostly it was a feeling of disconnect and a lack of something to do. The next step was to clear a field to create a place we could all use and has eliminated that feeling of “nothing to do around here”. If you would like to build a better sense of community here are ten ways to do just that.
- Start a community garden. Clearing the field hasn’t been quick or easy, but we learned early on that most of us were seeking better healthier foods than what was available locally, this began the community garden. I think this will be a years long process to see it grow into its final form, but that’s okay I’m not going anywhere.
- Live Green. By this I mean not using toxic chemicals inside or out of my home. I installed a water filter to enjoy better quality water, sought out natural methods to clean my home, eliminated plastic bags, eliminated all disposable paper products (except toilet paper). I began to cut up fabric which was stained to use as cleaning rags and made cloth napkins. The napkins have been a big hit. I used found fabrics and embellished a few with cross stitch designs especially for the children.
- Eliminate wrapping paper. Besides the packaging which is on products we buy, wrapping paper overflows dumpsters and garbage cans especially during the Christmas season. Using fabric, again not purchased by me, I created beautiful reusable gift bags eliminating any waste this past year.
- Live a zero waste life. When I first thought about this I hadn’t realized just how hard it would be. I, like everyone else, had heard the term disposable society, but I didn’t realize the full extent which I had become dependent on disposable products. Check out My Zero Waste for more ideas on reducing trash. I haven’t reached my goal yet, but here is a picture of my garbage can. It sits under my kitchen counter next to my dorm-size refrigerator. (The basket you see on the fridge holds my cloth napkins, easy for the kids to reach) It takes me 6-8 weeks before I have enough garbage to reach the lid. Yes, that’s a plastic garbage bag, I had a few left from last year, I have one more left, then it’s on to something else. Anyone have a good idea, I thought about paper bags, but even that doesn’t seem right. Since I have a dumpster outside I’m considering not using any kind of a bag and just dumping it when full straight into the dumpster. What do you think, I’m open to any and all suggestions, I need help.
- Go carless. So far this has been working out nicely, but then the weather has cooperated for the most part. Not sure how I will do without a car in the winter, but I guess I will figure that out when I come to it.
- Choose better gifts. Not everyone wants to think about the choices they make as whether or not they harm the planet, but when giving a gift I am trying to look for certain things. For the children I seek toys that aren’t made from plastic or operated by batteries. I look for toys that will spark their imagination when playing with them. For the adults, I seek gifts that will be used up or at least make their life easier, such as a crock pot which uses less electricity than an oven and makes preparing a healthy meal quick and easy. Two of my grandchildren will turn fur in September, I am considering purchasing them a class at the local YMCA in gymnastics. It isn’t something they will have lying around, and will be an activity they can enjoy. What ideas can you share for me for creative useful gifts?
- Choosing one week a month to buy nothing. Other than food that is. This idea came to me when I heard about people who choose not to buy anything for one day. Turns out I’m not the first person to think of this. By doing this for a week it has made me see how easily spending money on mindless purchases can become.
- Eliminating my use of the Postal Service. When I heard the post office is planning to reduce deliveries to our homes and eliminate one delivery day per week I realized I wouldn’t be inconvenienced by not having delivery six days of the week. But could I live without the postal service all together? So far the answer is for the most part. Since January 1, I have mailed a total of two envelopes. As for what I receive, it’s mostly unsolicited junk mail I don’t want anyway. I can check my mail once a week and some weeks will have nothing in my box.
- Can I live locally? With the rising cost of every thing, and the oil used to deliver products to my town I wondered if I could live just with what I could find made or grown in my hometown. This hasn’t worked out yet. Our produce is trucked in except for a few months out of the year, but by growing a garden I hope to see a reduction in the amount I need to buy to get through winter. Christmas was a little harder. Finding unique gifts that family members wanted meant having to leave my town to find them and of course those were shipped in to that store as well. But for my personal needs, it’s only food that makes me think I can’t at this time live solely with what’s available in my community.
I would love to try out some of your ideas. Any thing that will make life simpler, greener, and makes me less dependent on needing others to live seems to be where my head has been working. Where’s your mind taking you?