I asked for comments in my last article: What is Ethical Eating?… Is Eating Meat Ethical?. I was not only pleased to read effort-filled collaboration, I was incredibly impressed by the depth! So, I ask again– will you please share your thoughts with Biocadence? I will positively LOVE to hear about your personal triumphs and hiccups. From Freshman to PhD, every sustainable living transitionist has something we can learn from!
I like to begin my T&H (Triumphs & Hiccups) articles with a word on behavioral sustainability as it relates to environmental sustainability:
My sustainable living focus is not about sacrifice, but quality of life. By understanding the consequences of consumption (for inspiration read “The Hunger Games”… Fiction or Non-Fiction), our consumption becomes more purposeful. Connecting our consumption to its consequences spawns conscious consumption. The practice of consumption-design seeks to maximize the joy that comes from vibrant experience while minimizing meaningless consumptive behavior. I believe that this discipline can pull us into the balance I call bio-cadence.
Biocadence doesn’t call us to give up the activities we hold most dear. Rather, I usher myself and my readers to joyfully punt the robotic consumptive nature that has come to characterize North America. In its place we can invite a lifestyle designed for rich satisfaction. Where meaningless distraction once was, we have space to welcome sincere fulfillment. This balance holds distinct values for each individual and each family unit. Observing and studying our behaviors as they relate to consumption allows us to distinguish our unique bio-cadence.
What sustainable living behaviors are EASY for you to implement… effortless… joyful? What consumptive behaviors are EASY for you to give up? With an emphasis on behavioral sustainability, the impact of the change you make matters, but is not the primary focus. A small permanent adjustment may have much more impact than a large adjustment made once. I recommend beginning with behavioral changes that are effortless, then building upon that foundation by tackling more difficult adjustments.
Now for full disclosure of my own triumphs and hiccups. 1,2,3… Go:
I don’t like shopping for clothes. This has been the case for a few years now. Since there is no temptation at all, this is an easy “pass” for me. Behaviorally sustainable? Yes! However- I should add that I will need a few items soon. All tips on clothing companies with sustainable practices are welcome!
We are cutting out all soy products, and eating very little gluten, grain, legumes, and processed sugar. Our sustainable eating efforts consist of huge servings of veggies cooked with grass-fed butter or coconut oil, and small servings of sustainably farmed meat, or local wild-caught fish. This means that most of our food comes from the farmers market or CSA box (ALL veggies and fruit and ALL fish). There is very little packaging. “No bag please” has become our mantra.
We continue to receive and encourage CSA deliveries! Here’s our most recent CSA art:
I’ve been exploring sustainability apps on my iPad. EcoChallenge is an app that offers specific sustainable living challenges. I signed up for the turn-water-off-while-shampooing-and-conditioning-hair challenge. I completed the 9 days and plan to sustain this behavioral change!
In T&H-2 I mention a strategy I’ve used to limit the number of items I buy at the grocery store (as I work to wean off grocery store solicitation): I don’t use a bag… limiting my purchases to what I can hold in my hands/arms. This is going very well! I have two observations to share with followers who may implement this strategy, in order to eliminate tension with grocers who don’t appreciate this practice:
1- Be ready for quick retrieval of items!
2- Share your “no bag for me, please” request well BEFORE the clerk starts bagging!
In T&H-1 I mention saving the envelopes sent in credit card offers. When appropriate, I’ve used the envelopes, filling the window with a sticky note:
I ensured my recycled toothbrush was re-recycled by sending it back to the manufacturer (Check out my short video for details: “Recycle Your Recycled Toothbrush!”)!!!!
We haven’t used our condo air-conditioning nor heating in 1-2 years. We open the windows in the early morning and evenings to cool the condo down. We have slowly adjusted to the heat, and I can honestly share that it doesn’t bother me. I dreamed that we broke our streak and was so distraught! Here’s hoping it doesn’t get too hot this summer, with appreciation for the olive trees that shade our windows:)!
My husband and I reuse our produce bags and never allow grocers to put our items in plastic bags. Yet, somehow we find a plastic bag in the condo once in a while. I donate these on our walking trail, for dog waste pickup! Props to Walnut Creek!
I haven’t used the dishwasher in months! Washing dishes immediately requires less hot water, less soap, and less time! New discovery– We now need far fewer dishes. I’m contemplating donating much of our kitchenware!
Since T&H-2, I’ve donated 2 sweaters, 3 shirts, 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of glasses, and one skirt!
My husband took a job less than 1 mile from our home. This cuts down on our traveling footprint. Although a short commute was not the #1 concern in his job selection, I wholeheartedly celebrate this fortune!
I was invited to a summer picnic. The hostess suggested I bring a beverage. I brainstormed about something packaging-free… something not found in the grocery stores. I brought a 3 gallon jug of homemade “Spa Water” ~ Ingredients: ice water, farmer’s market fresh: mint, strawberry, pluot, and lemon. It was a hit!!!
I went to the movie theatre twice since T&H-2.
Joel Salatin, a sustainable living mentor of mine, recommends eating more grass-fed ruminants and less chicken. Chicken is such an easy meat to prepare and is so palatable for a newly initiated omnivore. Our goal is to eat less chicken, but this has not been behaviorally sustainable for us.
Once in a while we go to Peet’s Coffee. I always grab my own stir stick and toss it after use. My husband always exclaims and reaches as I throw it away, reminding me that we could both use that stir stick:). I will remember soon!
When in a hurry, I’ve used paper towels, rather than my wonderful cellulose reusable paper towels (for more on these watch my short video: “Reusable Paper Towels“).
I bought a whole chicken and tossed the chicken bones, rather than using them for bone broth! As a new omnivore, it is so hard for me to see bones as a nutrient source. This aspect of my transition is coming more slowly.
We had a power outage. I went outside and took a long walk, in an effort to take advantage of the time. I hadn’t thought to turn off all the light switches, so a few lights came back on in my absence! I will certainly think of this next time!
My sweet bicycle has not been ridden yet this summer. This is a shame. I would like to make it a goal to use the bicycle as transportation around town!
Eating out remains a huge challenge for us. Any tips on how to cut down on this in a behaviorally sustainable way are welcome!!!
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- RecycleBank: Be Eco-Friendly and Earn Rewards! (savings.com)
- Meeting someone in real life who is interested in sustainable living! (littlegreenvillage.wordpress.com)
- Ecological first in Mellieħa (timesofmalta.com)
- Frugal Parenting: A Trip to the Town Dump with My Daughter (twofrugalfairfielders.wordpress.com)
- Go Green Get Fit Challenge KickOff: Meet the Bloggers (healthyhomemagazine.com)
- Conscientious consumption (theage.com.au)
- Live the vaka way (fijitimes.com)
- Going Green: 5 Green Living Apps (theurbn.com)
- Costa Rica and Colombia Happiest Countries in the World (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
- Do you think that the lifestyle of the inhabitants of your town or city reflects behavior that is in line with the concept of sustainable development? In your opinion, what should be improved? (slideshare.net)
- Fun, friendly, and sustainable furnishings for a beautiful abode (weberlifedesign.wordpress.com)
- Olympic Park sets gold standard for sustainability – CNN (edition.cnn.com)
- Fashion and Sustainability (psychedelichippiefashion.blogspot.com)
- Interview with Shane Shirley-Smith of Environmental Booty (skimbacolifestyle.com)
Behavioral change experts tell us that we must become more aware of our activities related to the behavior we are changing. Charting behavior only takes a few moments and is always an eye-opening exercise for me. I begin to link my behavior to my motivation. I connect with the circumstances that allow for easy behavioral change and with the circumstances that make it feel impossible! I get to know myself better within the framework of the behavioral change I’m focused on. I feel proud of my triumphs and understanding of my hiccups.
Every month or so, I make an inventory of my progress as a sustainable living transitionist. This holds me accountable to my sincere interest in lifestyle change. I’ve recorded my adjustments, large and small, in hopes to package practical changes that readers can implement. My wish is that you may latch onto a few adjustments that seem effortless to you! Don’t assume that the easy changes don’t pack a punch. The less the change disrupts your daily routine, the more enduring the change will be. In a long-term transition, endurance is the crux of success. The magic happens when the change becomes routine, allowing us move on to the next level of change without disrupting our endurance. As such, I believe that behavioral sustainability is necessary if we are to achieve environmental sustainability.
I hope that sharing my triumphs AND my hiccups will give my transition more life. Although quitting overly consumptive behaviors cold turkey is possible for some, it is not my route to lasting change. Below, I share the details of step by step tapering. Celebrating all levels of sustainable living achievement will encourage us to keep on truckin’ in our personalized approach to the transition! I commit to full disclosure. 1, 2, 3… go:
Triumphs over the last month:
- We are supporting our small local farms by ordering through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Here is a bit of CSA photography art featuring our first delivery from Farm Fresh to You:
- We have not used paper towels! For the “why” and “how” on reusable paper towels watch my short video (I am sorry that the video is a bit choppy at the beginning. I am working on a fix!)
- We gifted a travel set of bamboo eating utensils and cellulose reusable paper towels (Link to view). The recipient (my brother) sent photos to illustrate his use of the cellulose cloths. Used as a coaster:
And as a toilet paper roll… (he’s a jokester):
- We have only used the dishwasher one time! Washing our dishes immediately, and by hand, takes less energy (from us and from the grid) and uses less water.
- Last week we walked to the farmer’s market rather than driving. We used reusable grocery bags and produce bags all month.
- We ordered biodegradable garbage bags. Putting garbage in a plastic bag is sealing it away from it’s re-entry into the life cycle. Biodegradable/compostable bags are an effortless improvement.
- Last week (a cold one) I wore my “puff” jacket instead of turning the heater on:
- When my hair looked fine, I DID NOT wash it. The bangs are a different story:).
- Our bedroom light bulb went out a week ago. I decided not to change it. A small desk lamp and natural window light is more than enough light. Taking away the option of flipping on the big light has made this behavioral change oh-so-easy!!!!
- We celebrated St. Patty’s Day at home… less energy, less resources, less $, more fun!!!!!!!
- 2 weeks ago, our CSA delivery included a large quantity of two ingredients that I have never enjoyed (cauliflower and celery). Every time I opened the fridge and saw them, I let out a huge sigh. Solution: I whipped out the food processor, chopped them up, along with ingredients I DO like, and made delicious veggie cakes out of them! Message me for the recipe!
- Pasta was on the menu one night. I am toying with a conversion to a gluten-free diet and my husband is not… so I made one wheat batch and one gluten-free batch. I used the same water to boil both pastas by placing a pot under the strainer.
- I bought my first whole chicken. Buying parts of an animal requires processing, which requires energy and supports larger/more corrupt farming operations. It is time for this newly initiated omnivore to handle a whole chicken! **Interesting to note: the whole chicken is the ONLY 5 point sustainability-scale option available at our local Whole Foods. I’ve contacted Whole Foods to ask for a 6 point level that would recognize farm biodiversity and soil health!!!! More on Whole Foods sustainability point system.
- As I transition, some sacrifices come so EASILY!!!!! I’ve sold my car (my husband and I share his car now), quit my corporate job, started composting, unplugged cable and cut my spending in HALF!!!! What temptation still taunts me????? Eating meals at restaurants. Weaning will involve baby step tapering for this difficult behavioral change. My husband and I split a single order at our favorite crepe stop this month. This was a first. It’s a triumph, albeit a small one:)!
- We asked vendors to tell us about their food and/or farms! This is community building and incredibly educational. The responses varied. The young man at the seafood counter at Whole Foods couldn’t have been a day older than 18. He was delightfully articulate and knowledgeable about relative sustainability. It was too bad that there are zero options for seafood at Whole Foods that satisfy our sustainability goals. Since it is effortless to buy farmer’s market seafood, we passed. Another vendor responded with an incredulous: “No one has ever asked me that!” One response was particularly memorable, from a vendor at the farmer’s market. She shared her struggle with the cost of certifying organic. Pricing and bureaucracy can marginalize the small farmers. Although my ideal is to “know” that my purchases are organic, it was interesting to experience how much more I trust a sincere farmer’s promise than I do the USDA.
- I enjoy walking outside quite a bit. I prefer to walk around our local reservoir, which is 5+/- miles away from my home. A week ago, I noticed an opportunity to save fuel. I’m committed to driving to walk the reservoir for social walks with friends only (as a treat!).
- I went off the registry for a baby shower gift and bought a 100% bamboo baby bib and a pink sports car toy made out of 100% recycled milk cartons.
- Making the sustainable living transition becomes infectious. We met family for dinner last weekend. They chose a restaurant that advertises sustainable practices, to show support of our transition!
Hiccups over the last month:
- I’m struggling with my compost. On a 1-10 scale, it gets a “4” in stinky rating, down from a “6”. When properly managed, compost should not stink! We use the Bokashi fermenting system. This system allows for meat scraps AND should turn kitchen scraps into compost 10x faster than most composting systems (Link to view Bokashi starter kit). Managing meat scraps in compost is a more advanced skill than I was ready for. My compost is slowly recuperating. We put a few kitchen scraps in the garbage last week (when too rushed to make room in our compost bins).
- Mega-confession: Raised as a vegetarian, Taco Bell was the only veg-friendly fast food for our family in the ’80’s. Now Taco Bell is my nemesis… an addiction that promises temporary comfort, but leaves me feeling guilty and stuffed with chemicals. The last month included a rushed comfort food Taco Bell run (I grimace as I type)! A nutrition mentor of mine (Twitter handle: @sucramdw) says that eating junk is a lot like peeing your pants in public. He explains that, as adults, we understand that visceral urgency often requires delayed gratification. As we wait to get to the a restroom to relieve our bladders, we should wait for our cheat day to relieve our junk cravings. My goal, in future months, is to figuratively “pee my pants in public” less… sheepish smile:)!
- I must admit another comforting habit: long showers. If you ask my college room mate, she may share that I used to take these daily! I definitely did this once, maybe twice in the last month!
- The smoke alarm rang in our building. It was freezing outside. On the hiccup side: we jumped in the car, turned on the heater and drove around for a few minutes until the alarm stopped. On the triumph side: Although we were hungry, we did not use the excuse to eat out. We waited and cooked at home.
Message me about your triumphs and hiccups. I’d love to learn from you and be encouraged by your accomplishments! As you receive CSA deliveries, consider celebrating the feasts-to-come by making CSA photography art. Send me your photos!!!!
Here is a sneak-peak of what I’m working on:
- Hunger Games feature, as the series relates to sustainability
- The Green School, Bali feature (A tour of this school inspired me to action!)
- In-Season Food feature
- Biocadence T-Shirts
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this snapshot of my personal sustainable living transition! Please support Biocadence by subscribing to this blog, “sharing” my content using the one-click buttons below, following the Biocadence Facebook page, by “liking” it, and by strutting your sustainable self and showing the world that living more sustainably is the way to go!
Quicklink to previous posts:
“Small as they are, tossed toothbrushes certainly do create a lot of waste. Indeed, some 50 million pounds of them are tossed into America’s landfills each year.” (Source: http://environment.about.com/od/earthtalkcolumns/a/toothbrush.htm)
Quick link to Blog Post 2: Is Eating Meat Sustainable?
Quick link to Blog Post 1: Dance to an Earth-Beat
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