Monday, January 11, 2010

One Small Change

Whew...apparently I just took a little unplanned bloggy break. I won't bore you with tales of severed thumbs, sore throats or sleepless nights, but I'll just get on with the post I should have written a week ago. Don't let my tardiness deter you from joining in, if you're so inclined; it's never too late to sign up to make One Small Change.

Hip Mountain Mama got the idea of changing one thing (for the better, environmentally-speaking) in her life per month leading up to Earth Day and inviting others to play along. First, before I tell you about my change, I need to tell you about HMM's. She and her family have given up toilet paper. Yep, that's right. They have replaced it with a washable/reusable system called "the family cloth." I know, amazing, right? Now my initial reaction was a Charleton-Heston-esque, "they can pry my TP out of my cold, dead hands," so apparently I'm not there yet. Maybe some day, but for now, I think I have a lot bigger ecological footprint issues than my personal hygiene, such as those 27+ miles I drive every day (hope to do something about that next month!)

So anyhoo, my change for January is...drumroll, please...Buy Nothing Month! Yes, I know that's pretty anti-climatic considering I had a Buy Nothing Year in 2008. Old hat, and kind of wimpy. But here's my reasoning...see if you think it's just an excuse or not. As we approached Christmas, and I was reviewing my buying habits of the previous few months (and my checkbook), I could see I was a little out-of-control in the spending department. Now, not out-of-control in the all-American-rack-up-thousands-of-dollars-in-consumer-debt sense, but out-of-control for me, as in every time I saw something I liked or wanted, I bought it. I needed to slow down the hemorrhaging of money, and return to the person I used to be, who took time to contemplate purchases, delayed gratification and most often did without.

So why not a whole year? I want to see if I can find a balance between all and nothing. Can I make reasonable expenditures and purchases, in the most environmentally friendly manner possible without going crazy and buying two books a week from Better World (really, it was getting that bad for a while)? This is the test. Whenever it pops into my head that I want (or need) something, I write it down. At the end of the month, I'll review the list, see what I really do need, what I still want, what is reasonable to have/spend, how I could get by with making, borrowing or buying used, etc.

Also, this month is a bit different than Buy Nothing Year, in which I allowed myself a few exceptions (like materials needed for making stuff), and I could buy used items. No exceptions allowed this month. If I run out of red thread, I'll just have to do without. And, I'm trying to avoid other kinds of spending, like meals out or snack food. This last has been my only stumbling block so far--last week when faced with taking something to knitting group, and having no time to cook or bake, I bought some chocolate at the healthfood store (but I did not buy myself a snack as I usually would, but instead ate a banana from the bunch I had packaging and much more healthful than a cookie or something!), and we re-joined the Y last week, and my suggestion that C pick up the kids and feed them sandwiches on the way was overruled by his suggestion that I pick up the little ones and meet him and M at the pizza place (pizza boxes, paper plates, a chocolate milk container and an orange juice Z would say, wot-wot-waaaah!).

Buying Nothing should cut down on vehicle miles travelled (to the places that sell stuff), packaging and postage as well as energy to run the servers of websites that sell stuff, and the energy and natural resources that went into making the stuff in the first place. One Small Change, indeed, considering I'm just one person in this big consumerist country, but it feels good to be part of a community of changers (to see what others are doing, go here).

What would you do if you could make one small change this month? Head over to Hip Mountain Mama and join in!


  1. I really like your change and especially appreciate your desire to find a balance. I am constantly being presented with situations that require me to examine my black and white tendencies:) And I am learning that choosing something in between is not gray. Surprisingly it is often many colors if that makes sense. I'll be interested in following along with you on this.

  2. I had better vow to not lock the keys in the Blazer this month and I am going to get another key made so one is in the bottom of my purse. That will save gas (today it was and over 20 mile drive for Pop to unlock the car) and money and driving and taking off of work to do it.


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