Monday, September 24, 2012

Ecosattva ::: Egosattva

Ecosattva - Be kind to the earth
Egosattva - Be kind to yourself

I turned 46 (I actually had to think about how old I am -- that might be a first --) this past Summer.  That's sort of a horrifying number in the abstract, although I don't feel 46.  

When I turned 40 I threw out all the chemicals in my house and began my journey of "going green" in earnest.  Having surpassed the 5 year anniversary of that landmark, it seems like it would be good to review where I am, and the areas in my life where I could be greener.  When I say "green," I also include items such as how I reduce my carbon footprint, ways that I give back to the earth/environment, and habits that I have which I consider healthy or eco-conscious.

How am I doing?
I don't use any chemical lawn fertilizers or pesticides.
I clean my house with natural cleaners:  vinegar, Bon Ami, etc.I live within 5 miles of where I work.
I buy from the bulk bins at the grocery store when possible.
I maintain a "no shoes" home.
My body products are paraben free (no petroleum ingredients).
I either compost my vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.
I try not to buy products that are over-packaged.
When getting doggy bags in restaurants, if they use Styrofoam, I ask for a piece of foil instead.
I use re-usable shopping bags at the grocery store.
I'll pay a little extra to support a local independent business vs. a chain or mass producer.
I use a broom instead of my garden hose to tidy my sidewalks and driveway.
I rake and compost leaves, etc. 
I use biodegradable dog poop bags on walks (and do not individually bag from the yard.)
I installed gutters and rain barrels for rain water conservation.
I mostly buy organic produce and food items.
I got rid of all rubber-backed rugs in my home.
I got rid of some concrete surfaces at my home and planted plants instead.
I am vegetarian all the time, vegan most of the time.
When I do eat fish, I try my best to be sure it's wild caught.
I frequently hand-carry store items, declining a bag.
I grow my own organic herbs.
I provide a butterfly/hummingbird friendly environment.
I built and put up an owl shack!
I got rid of my microwave and use a toaster oven.
When I buy interior paint, I buy low or no VOC.
I feed the birds and keep a bird bath full of water.
I support animal rescue.
I drink out of the tap e.g. I do not buy bottled water.
I store used batteries and burned out light bulbs, and do a twice a year trip to a disposal center.
I buy CFL light bulbs when available for my fixture.
I wait as long as I can to use my central air conditioning.
In the winter, I reduce furnace bills by using an electric blanket.
I very very rarely drink sodas.
I'm a label reader: generally if I cannot pronounce and identify ingredients on a label, I likely won't eat the product.
I try to buy clothes made from natural fibers.
I drive a tiny car and its paid for.
My electric service at my home is 100% wind energy.
I opt out of junk mail, and call to cancel catalogs.
I re-purpose and re-use whenever I can and rarely buy furniture new.
I try not to buy leather products (shoes are my only downfall)

What can I do better?
Some of my make up is still not organic -- eye shadow, mascara, etc. -- although I rarely wear it...
I wash my car in the driveway - but I do use biodegradable soap
I still use traditional toothpaste/mouthwash as opposed to a natural brand.
I sometimes accept plastic bags at Target - I should bring my own bags in.
I could use more attic insulation..
My house needs new windows.
I'm addicted to my iPhone.
I buy the very un-natural Beggin' Strips for my dog!

So those are the things that I do that I can think of off the top of my head.  Over all I make these choices because they make me feel better.  I feel better physically and mentally, and I feel better that I am being responsible in my corner of the world for the environment, the world around me and being good to myself. 
Now I'm making the largest step ever - selling my house and majorly downsizing.  My footprint will be hugely reduced!  Not only how I live and what I live in, but the impact of the materials going into my house to construct it as well as the impact what is leaving my house (chemicals, refuse) will be very small.
I try not to preach my ways to others -- I just do what works for me.  I do happily observe though, that sometimes the way I live raises the awareness of friends and neighbors -- and at least provokes thought and sometimes lively discussion -- and that's fun.  I have had a lot of people in my life who have raised my awareness, and I'm grateful for that.  I learn new things all the time about ways I can change - I like the challenge of finding new ways. 
Do you have new any suggestions for me?  How sustainably are you living?

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