Sunday, January 9, 2011

The “Must Haves?”

The other night we watched the movie No Impact Man,and what an impact it had on us. Even though we do so much towards self sufficiency, the movie made me realize we could still do more.

Sometimes I forget that it's not just about us as individuals, but people as a whole. Not only what we do effects us, but the world at large. We are just little guys, but together we can outsmart the big guys.

We are already aware of saving energy (our house is powered by the sun) etc, but after watching the movie I wondered what else we could change. When I think of ourselves as accomplishing milestones I realize they are only “footstones.” There is more to be done.

Today we went to the grocery store with plastic packaging in mind. The over use of plastic has been bothering us for many years – we don't use plastic containers, only glass (although they do have plastic covers) and we don't drink bottled water or sodas or use plastic wrap or baggies, however we still end up with a lot of plastic in our plastic trash bags.

Armed with good intentions, we hit the shelves. This was going to be a lot harder than we thought, now that we were paying more attention. A simple list- cheese, butter (we really do need to make our own), olive oil, pasta, walnuts, sweet potatoes, pretzels and dish soap. Out of that short list the only things not in plastic were the butter, olive oil and sweet potatoes. At least the dish soap bottle can be recycled, not that I think recycling is the answer. I think reducing is a better solution. But how to reduce, without becoming overly fanatical. Maybe that's the answer, to become overly fanatical. Sometimes that is the only way changes are made.

So now my family will have to put up with my constant “plastic complaining”.....the toothpaste comes in plastic (time to switch to baking soda enhanced with peppermint oil?), the toilet paper is wrapped in it, it's touching our food and heaven forbid I forget to take my reusable bag to the store.

We certainly don't have all the answers yet, but we are more aware of our usage and are trying to come up with alternatives one step at a time. The plastic may never be gone from this house, but it will be dramatically reduced.

Each of us can make changes that will impact the earth as a whole. I mentioned to someone a while back that we no longer buy paper towels, we use regular towels or rags. I said how it wasn't much, but made us feel better. He said to me, “But imagine if everyone did that.” Yeah, that would be huge. Sure, at first it was a bit inconvenient, but 3 years later I don't miss paper towels at all and even hate to use them at other peoples' houses; it feels so wasteful.

Since watching No Impact Man, I have been looking at a few things differently. Do I need to buy QTips? Will a towel dry my ears just as well? Cotton balls....don't need 'em. So many items have become a way of life that we don't even question them, just use them and throw them away, not even thinking about what happens when they leave the house. Out of site, out of mind, but not out of the earth.

With baby steps we can make some changes (and save some money) that will, as a whole, make a difference. We can turn the “footstones” to milestones with just a little creative thinking and rethinking. I now take the time to question our purchases and the impact they have, from the manufacturing to the the disposal and I am surprised at how many “necessities” really aren't that important any more.


  1. Bravo my friend! I have been concerning myself with this of late too. Mainly because of its effect on Water.

    Did you know for instance that there is even plastic in paper toweling? That blew me away when I learned of it, although I don't know why it should.

    We've become a complacent and lazy society indeed and need to go back to the ways of our Ancestors if we want to see the change.

    As Wise Ghandi has spoken..."Be the change we wish to see."

    It was very heartwarming to read your post today...and you can make your own environment friendly soaps too, lol, which I'm sure you probably already know.


  2. Footstones are very handy when used to project you forward toward the goal. Being mindful of who we are and what we do is an excellent beginning. Working in partnership with mother nature and compromising on mutual needs is my #1 resolution for the new year. And 'compromise' is NOT a dirty word.

  3. I never knew about the plastics in paper towels, although, like you it should not surprise me, but yet still does. What we don't know can hurt us. We are trying to adapt "new" things into our lives while still being comfortable, because we know if it's really hard, we won't do it (although what's hard to one is not to another). And, yes....I must make some soap. Do you know of a simple dish soap to make?

    No, compromise is not a dirty word, yet a "co-promise", to mother nature perhaps? There are so many little things that can be change that make a huge difference.

  4. check out
    Very interesting

  5. Babysteps is always the correct first step you cannot expect to dive into a raging ocean without knowing to swim like a fish. My and my partner are starting to do just what you are doing we have started using glass to freeze instead of baggies and we reuse margarine (yuck) containers for freezing till they fall apart.

  6. Thanks for the link, Judy. I will check it out.

    Rivenfae, you are so right. Small changes add up and I am looking forward to making even more changes!

  7. There is a good recipe over on eHow...
    they have a few actually...and you can query once there...

    Hope that helps! :)

  8. I have just added this to my netflix list. I will move it to the top to watch. Thanks for your post on it, I had not heard of this one and look forward to seeing it.

  9. Emily, I think you will enjoy the movie, we really did. Let me know what you think.

  10. I just came upon your blog and I was interested to read that you use solar power. How is that working out for you? I also live in Maine and I want to use solar but my husband insists that we don't get enough sun here to make it worth it. Any information on this would be helpful. I've got him on the geo-thermal train but I can't convince him to do solar. Thanks.

  11. Amy, Solar works out real well for us, but we have also become very much aware of what we use for power and are always cutting back when we can (as you can read on the posts under the "alternative energy" category). We do have an alternative way (generator) to charge batteries when we have many days without sun, but are hoping to build up our panels and batteries so that we have to do that less often. So many people think solar is real expensive, but it doesn't have to be. You can even start doing things now like changing to compact florescent light bulbs. Even with those pay attention to the amount of watts they use. We have some bulbs that only use 18 watts, and others that use just 7 watts. The 7 watts work just as well for us in certain lights, so why have the extra wattage....things like that can make a difference now and help you to make the switch. Don't give up! We are always happy to answer any questions.
    ~ Nancy

  12. I am like you and hate bringing anything into the house that has plastic. It has made us resort to making just about everything our selves. We press our own oil, make pasta, soap and anything else that comes in a plastic package. One suggestion is that our co-op has a huge bulk section and allows you to put everything in your own glass container that you weigh before you fill. They even have snack foods like pretzels and dish soap in bulk you put in your own container. I am not sure where you are located, but I know Maine has some wonderful co-ops. I absolutely love Maine and try to visit at least once a year, and if we ever move it would be to Maine. I just found your blog and am enjoying it :)

  13. Hi Jane, I am so glad you found us! I have been doing more with reducing our plastic, even since I wrote this. Buying in bulk is a great way to do it and I like the idea of bringing your own container. We don't have a co-op close to us, so I have to plan out our trips better (I am also becoming obsessed with gas usage lately).
    Thanks for writing : )
    ~ Nancy