Sunday, July 6, 2008

Where I came from, where I am now, and where I am going...

Hi, This is an introductory post. I wanted to update myself and any newcomers on what I've achieved so far on my own.

With costs of fuel and food rising, it had become clear to me that the lifestyle my daughter and I were leading was not only increasingly expensive and wasteful, but also something that we were not going to be able to sustain indefinitely.

We came, just a few years ago, from extensive poverty. I am a single parent of limited means, whose paycheck is the only money we have. I've managed to do well enough so far to put us just slightly above working-class. I purchase a small home this year; nothing fancy, it's a mobile home on a lot. But, it's mine. It also affords me a place to garden and compost, and it has a pool, tennis court and a pond. That's important because a lot of our recreational activities take place close to home in our new lifestyle.

The other thing that was bugging me was quality of life. Both my daughter and I have been struggling with weight; mine as a result of quitting smoking 4 years ago and hers because her diet was overloaded with high fructose corn syrup and convenience foods (which I am convinced are from the devil! lol).

It was hard to decide to voluntary increase our food budget, and decrease our expense elsewhere, but I began to think differently about it as time went on. It is an investment in ourselves, in our health, and that was something that seemed more valuable to me than the temporary enjoyment of a few french fries. With health care expenses rising, it makes more sense to do this now to pay less in the long run.

Once we moved out of our bad neighborhood, and into the new place, I figured I'd make some needed changes. I received a couple of bikes secondhand that were in good shape, and I taught my daughter to ride hers in a single afternoon. We began to make more regular use of tennis courts and the pool. I planted a garden. I bought more things secondhand, primarily books and household items. I bought a book on learning to become a tightwad, another on composting. I received a free wire compost bin from the city solid waste department and set that up. We've given up 90% of the meat in our diet; only seafood and the occasional piece of chicken remain. And I instituted a pretty rigorous home recycling program.

But that's not enough, is it? And that's the great thing about this lifestyle; it's a constant challenge. I recently decided to give up plastic containers in favor of glass ones, for health reasons. We no longer use paper goods of any kind, except toilet paper. I've give up paper napkins, paper towels, disposable plates. We have changed my daughter's aftercare program to one much nearer to the house and it cut my commute and my fuel bill in half.

Yet, the challenges and temptatiosn are constant. There is still much debate over these practices and if they do any good at all. I will attempt to explore that here. I may or may not get the answers I seek, and if I do they may not be the answers I want. However, this is an attempt at thinking differently. Learning to live in a new way is never easy, but I figure if I quit smoking, I can handle this, right? Right?!


Felicia said...

I'm hoping to get to a meeting this week about recycling here...things accepted but not by the curbside pickup guys. I'm always recycling mail, bottles, composting etc and trying to get my neighbors to "see the green". It's actually their kids that usually put on the most pressure for change!

xysea said...

lol I know. Actually, my mobile home park has private garbage service that picks up twice a week. It's included in the lot rent. But, we don't have recycling here.

I'm trying to figure out how to get it, but the odd thing is there is a recycling center less than 2 mi away. It sounds so weird to say people are too lazy to go there, but they are - and I'm one of them!

So, what I opted to do is ask my boss. The place I work for has huge recycling bins and I told him my situation and asked if he minded if I brought my -clean- bottles, cans and recyclables into work. He said go right ahead, so that's my solution for now.

I still am working on the neighborhood, though.

On another note, I've gotten my garbage for a family of two down to 1 small bag per week. I think that's pretty good, all things considered. :)

kristin said...

If you can raise that beautiful daughter on your own, and quit smoking then you are far ahead of so many.

mary(Crone) said...

I'm working on becoming more informed and shrinking my carbon footprint so I'm glad to see you doing this. Guess I'd better sign up since folks are utilizing this site. Thank you!

We have recycling here and I'm pretty good with it as it is although there is likely more to learn, but I don't know much about composting and want to learn.

Started growing some veggies this year and I plan to take that into my bush and flower gardens next year. We don't get much sun here, so I don't know if it will work.

I just started to pay attention to my electrical usage and am taking on working to limit it. Lots of room for improvement there!


xysea said...

Hi everyone and welcome! :) I'm so glad to see you all here! Yay!

Thea said...

I admire your honesty, courage and determination to make a better life for you, your daughter and everyone else.

Purple said...

I am going to reduce my carbon footprint by stopping flying to the USA - hehe, only joking, honey, I'll still see you later this month - but it is probably the most ungreen thing that I do! Pxxx

kristin said...

ah the things we do for love......

xysea said...

lol Kris!

I'd prefer we were close enough together that flying becomes unnecessary.

After all, that'd be one way to reduce our carbon footprint! :)