Small Steps to Sustainability
Confession: I want to live in Little House On the Prairie.
I want Katie to run through fields, swim in unpolluted streams, and be able to explore and adventure unsupervised until the sun goes down. I want to sit together as a family and read before bed.
I want to be filled with the wisdom of self-sustainment and share and barter with my neighbors. I want a true sense of community and one that would more easily allow me to live the lifestyle of a homesteader.
On the other hand, I don’t want to lose modern conveniences like electricity, central heating/air conditioning, gas cooking, telephones, SUVs with air conditioning, a TV remote, and let’s not forget flushing toilets.
I am happy to bundle up and take Katie out in the yard to gather snow and make maple candy. I am even happier to then come back into my toasty centrally-heated home and watch TV while cuddled on the sofa.
I also want to be able to call Katie while she is on those adventures to make sure she’s okay. Hey, I’m a mom. It comes with the territory.
Balance is key.
Creating a more sustainable way of life can leave you absolutely overwhelmed when you are just starting out. There is so much information out there, and it’s hard to know where to start.
Baby steps are the best – and sometimes only – way to make changes and move forward. Your path will meander and switch back in more ways that you can imagine. Mine most certainly has.
Take it one or a couple of steps at a time. More than preventing burnout, it will allow you to explore and decide what aspects of it are for you.
Start with something that really excites you.
Don’t start with composting because you “should” if you would rather try your hand at eating more seasonally (eating foods when they are in season).
Make a ‘to try’ list – Write down all of the ideas that you come across that seem intriguing. It will give you a concrete place to keep them, so they are not constantly swirling around in your head.
You will end up sounding like a monkey if they are always flying around in there. Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! as this or that one pops back up into your consciousness from the whirling tornado of new plans you have been reading about and making.
Pace yourself – Seriously, slow it down. Tearing up your entire lawn to plant more-sustainable clover or vegetables is probably not the best place to start unless you have experience in landscaping or gardening. Plant an herb or two that your family regularly eats instead.
Focus on living within your means or work toward being completely debt-free instead of trying to jump in and go off-grid.
If laundry is your nemesis, don’t string up a clothesline and expect to hang and iron all of your clothes.
A few easy places to start
- Find more blogs on homesteading, REAL FOOD, sustainability, and frugality (that doesn’t focus on extreme couponing).
They will usually help steer you in the right direction and open you up to new sources of information. Bookmark, Pin, or write down what you like.
- Visit local farmers’ markets.
Talk to local farmers and food producers who practice sustainable methods and don’t farm with chemicals. Ask them what they’re passionate about and why they do what they do. Then, start buying food from the ones you like.
- Begin to remove processed food from your house.
Aim toward buying whole foods. Again, keep it simple. Don’t cut out every convenience food right away or your family will have nothing to eat (or so they will tell you) after a $300 grocery trip.
Start making one or two completely unprocessed meals a week if you are unfamiliar with cooking from scratch and add from there. Trying to start with elaborate recipes or buying eggplant when you have never cooked or even eaten it is not recommended.
Grilled chicken with side dish of buttered rice and corn or fried eggs and potatoes is a much better option than hamburger Helper or Lean Cuisine any day. If your family is a little more adventurous with vegetables, try this.
- Oust toxins from your house slowly.
Instead of replacing certain products once they run out, make your own or choose more natural options.
Some of my favorites to make are deodorant, tooth powder, and an all-purpose scrub. Baking soda, salt, lemon, and vinegar can do almost any cleaning in your home and are very frugal options if you are watching your budget.
Just remember to start small and enjoy the process!
This post was featured at Small Footprint Friday