One down, 11 to go...

It’s official--we’ve survived more than a month of our family’s eco-experiment! Here’s a quick review of the highs and lows from the month:

High:

Our increased commitment to composting and recycling reduced our trash production enormously. Previously, our family produced a 13-gallon bag of trash per day--at least--even though we recycled the obvious items like newspaper, plastic bottles, and Diet Coke cans. On average, we now produce approximately two trash bags per WEEK. We could seriously eliminate one trash pick up day, if that option is available.

Low:

While our trash heading to the landfill significantly decreased, we still produce lots of waste that needs to be recycled. While I consider that a better alternative, I’d like us to reduce our amount of waste overall so that we’re not contributing so much energy consumption for recycling.

High:

Eco-produce bags. Love them. Love the perplexed looks I get when the cashiers ring up my veggies and I can explain to anyone within ear shot about reducing plastic bags. I also feel less hypocritical when buying beautiful, organic produce at Farmer’s Market--we’ve basically eliminated plastic produce bags from our lives.

Low:

I’m consuming (i.e. produce bags, Sigg bottles) in order to become more environmentally friendly. Such an oxymoron...

High:

I’m learning to cook...and actually enjoy it, most of the time. I’ve always cooked the basics, but I resented it. I’ve fought hard to avoid becoming the stereotypical suburban ‘50s housewife, since I always aspired to greater things. We’ve spent a lot of time and money eating out. Honestly, though, what’s more important than feeding my family healthy (most of the time) food?

Now, I’m beginning to change my relationship with cooking. There’s a fabulous quote from Barbara Kingsolver’s memoir, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the story of her family’s quest to eat locally for a year. Kingsolver visits a Lebanese market and begins a conversation with a cheesemaker about the techniques to produce Middle Eastern cheeses. The cheesemaker is puzzled by her interest, until Kingsolver admits to making cheese at home.

“‘You make cheese yourself,’ she repeatedly reverently. ‘You are a real housewife.’

“It has taken me decades to get here, but I took that as a compliment,” writes Kingsolver. Like Kingsolver, I’m beginning to value my inner domestic goddess.

Low:

Trying to find local foods at Whole Foods. During the official No-Impact Week challenge, we blew the challenge to eat locally. Well, we ate LOCALLY at Fuddrucker’s...but I don’t think, somehow, that was the intention. The next day, I was determined to prepare all of our meals from local food and providers. Unfortunately, I had missed Farmer’s Market the week prior, so off I ventured to Whole Foods, certain I’d find plenty of local options. \$187 later, the only truly local food I found was zucchini, squash, and cucumbers. The meat options included “regional” foods that had traveled at least 3+ hours. If I was only after organic food, I would have been set...but finding organic and local was impossible.

I made sure to visit Farmer’s Market the following Saturday.

High:

I love supporting local growers and producers. Knowing the people who produce our food is a fabulous feeling. Plus, people who grow things, whether it’s cabbage, sunflowers, or sausage, are just nice people.

Low:

It takes planning to prepare a local meal. I’ve always been a convenience shopper. Out of lettuce? Run to Publix. Too tired to cook? Let’s go out. Now, I need to think about our meals. I can’t just run to the store for chicken. (Well, I CAN, I’m just trying not to.) I need to visit Native Meats at the Farmer’s Market or pre-order from them for delivery. (Which is an amazingly cool option they provide. Place an order for a certain dollar amount--I think about \$45--and they’ll deliver your order to your home. Love it.

www.nativemeats.com

My other issue is--I’m seduced by the beautiful produce grown by Parson’s Produce. I’ll stock up on three different eggplant varieties...then have no idea how to prepare them. Produce moldering in the refrigerator is not eco-friendly nor respectful--toward the person who grew it, toward my family for wasting money, and especially not toward people who don’t have enough to eat.

So--I’ve once again made a purchase: Eating Well in Season, a beautiful cookbook with delicious seasonal recipes. I’m hoping it helps me turn into Julia Child of the locavore movement.

High:

Great ideas for environmentally friendly Halloween treat bags.

Low:

Painting 35 recyclable paper bags orange. I don’t think I’ll pursue that fine idea next year.

High:

We are raising little environmentalists. Kristen and Michael both identify the recycling symbol on the bottom of containers. They remember to use the compost bowl for food scraps that aren’t meat (the dogs get those), they know not to throw out paper but to put it in the recycling container, and I’m even beginning to win the battle to get them to turn off the lights when they leave a room. Granted, they knew all of this before...but because we’re pursuing our project together, as a family, it’s turn into a game instead of a nagging chore.

Isn’t that the goal of becoming more environmentally responsible? We’re working to preserve the environment so Kristen, Michael, and Tyler’s kids will have the chance to enjoy hiking and playing in nature as much as our kids do...

I’m willing to learn to cook and haul away recycling if it means my grandkids have a chance to play in clean oceans.

Low:

There is no low.

OK, back to work! Let’s see what surprises the next month will have for us...

tagged under: composting, cooking, environment, farmer's market, local food, No-Impact, recycling, reduce, trash, Growing Green, Growing kids, Growing one day at a time