As 2012 comes to an end, I thought to have my last post for the year be about… you guessed it: new beginnings. With every New Year comes a list of resolutions, and for most of us, shortly after the fireworks, disappointment.
There are the rebels who decide to go against the grain and not make any resolutions. Then there are the over achievers who make list upon list of day-to-day changes they are going to make and then expect everyone around them to follow along. While I wouldn’t classify myself as either of the two, I do find the idea of New Years to be liberating. Although I do not always follow through with most of my resolutions, it is still liberating to make personal goals and dream about a different tomorrow.
Two of the resolutions that I made for myself this year were to gain a better understanding of my menstrual health and eat better. Although not 100 percent on either, I have come a long way in the quest to feel better! And, I’d be lying if I said it was easy to try and eat gluten and dairy free. You really aren’t left with many options, and the options that are out there are not half as good as the alternatives (at least to me they aren’t).
In general, when it comes to our health, it is not easy (or tasty) to follow through on our lifestyle resolutions of exercising more often, eating healthy and maintaining our ideal weight. But, there are other resolutions we can make that have very little to do with food, diet and exercise.
Over the summer I spent time reading Vanessa Farquharson‘s (2009) Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days.
This fascinating, memoir-like book, was one of the best reads I’ve come across this century. It had everything, including practical steps to living a greener life, a love story, honest narratives of what it means to be a woman and a fresh look at the gruelling task of trying to carve a place for yourself in the world of writing.
The book follows Vanessa’s quest to try one sustainable, eco-friendly thing for an entire year (due to a miscalculation by her computer, she ended up doing 366 changes, but that is besides the point). The book is divided by months (chapters) and at the start of each month there is a summary list of each day’s “challenge”. The neat thing about Vanessa’s challenge is that she blogged about her day-to-day experience at Green as a Thistle. In doing so, she was able to engage her audience (fans) at a level most authors never experience until after a book has been in print.
While I will not commit to taking up her entire challenge, I thought to list a few of the more interesting “to-dos” in the hopes that it may inspire some New Year’s resolutions for us all. I’d also recommend this book as one to read in 2013. I learned so much about my kitchen, toilet, shower curtain, the foods I consume etc. There are many used copies available for purchase from AbeBooks (of course finding one locally will reduce the eco-footprint involved in shipping) and local libraries (especially Canadian ones) should have a few copies on hand.
I cannot say that I am living the ideal sustainable life, but Vanessa did a very good job of helping me see the areas of my life that I can change and those that I should have changed a long time ago. Of course, even she did not stick to each day’s challenge come day 367, but she did follow through with many and I can only guess how many of her readers tried a few challenges from her list and stuck with them over the years.
This New Year, if we all took the time to pick just 10 of the 366 challenges Vanessa completed, we would probably gain an appreciation for what we have and the process that is involved in the making of life’s most basic necessities.
Some things to consider for 2013:
1. Switch to recycled paper towels (or reusable!)
2. No more disposable cutlery and plates
3. Pick up litter whenever I see it
4. Use only one glass or one mug a day
5. Fill kettle with exact amount of water needed
6. Use a PVC-free shower curtain liner
7. No more nail polish
8. Use only cold water for laundry
9. Get houseplants
10. Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones
11. Wear clothes twice before washing
12. Use cloth pads or The DivaCup instead of disposable pads and tampons
13. Stay on the path while hiking
14. Do not pour grease down the drain
15. No more Q-tips
16. No more post-its
17. Enforce a daily quiet time
18. Use bathroom before boarding a plane
19. Learn shorthand to reduce paper use
20. Shovel snow by hand and use sand instead of salt
21. Fly direct
22. Switch to vegan friendly dental floss
23. Shut down computer at the end of the day
24. Switch to natural deodorant
25. No more take-out or food delivery
26. Wash dishes by hand
27. No more Swiffer products
28. Use a natural kitchen and bathroom cleaner
29. Cut hair short
30. Eat food from the pot or pan I cook it in
31. Donate to a green cause once a month
32. No more Wite-Out
33. Donate used clothing to thrift stores (and then if I may add, shop there!)
34. Buy only used sports equipment
35. Use revolving doors
36. Eat ice cream in a cone rather than a plastic cup
37. Smile at a stranger every day
38. Dispose of electronic waste properly
39. No more tape
40. No more highlighters