Earth Day 2012 – And What I DIDN’T Accomplish Since Last Year

As you know, I’ve been doing Earth Day Resolutions for several years now.  Sure, Earth Day was, what, 2 weeks ago, but I’ve never been known for my punctuality.

I’ve covered most of the basics over the years (and still fail often in “basic” conservatation), so the resolutions began to get more uncomfortable or more labor intensive, which is a monumental task when working every day and trying to raise 2-3 kids at the same time. I will be paring back this year’s list significantly and returning to some of the basics, as I feel like I’ve lost sight over the years while struggling with managing my time.

Overall, I’m pleased with the progress I made for our family this year. I found a lot of “Happy Medium” in the areas I focussed on, which is a good place to be, and also a good place to jump from when I have the desire to go deeper someday.

Here are last year’s goals and their outcome:

Goal: Get high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes and artificial preservatives OUT of the house. Bonus points if I can wean Hillary and Moby off of sugared cereal. Outcome: HSFC is almost completely eradicated and an occassional dye and preservative still come into the house, but in amounts I can (usually) deal with. We eat cereal in spurts, but the kids LOVE cream of wheat and will often request it. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Goal: Expand the vegetable garden. Outcome: Last year’s garden was amazing. I grew a wider variety than ever before and got to know my pressure canner, which really opened the doors to preserve more.

Goal: Search for clear glass food storage. Outcome: Since I’m primarily looking for glass containers at thrift stores and garage sales, I didn’t find a single piece. I didn’t do a lot of shopping last year, though.

Goal: Get more rechargable batteries. Related to this, make an effort to buy things that don’t need batteries. Outcome: YES, I finally bought some more rechargable batteries! This goal has been on the list for a couple of years now. Most of the toys we acquired over the year, with the exception of a few musical toys, were battery-free and imagination-based.

Goal: Eat 100% local and/or organic meat. Outcome: Epic Fail. Local, organic meat is so far out of our budget it’s not even funny. We are finishing up the last of our side of beef and then it’s back to grocery store meat. I’m doing what I can to buy the most natural option of the mainstream brands.

Goal: Get rid of canned goods (and the BPA inside of them). Outcome: Not too bad. Certain things, like black olives and tuna and tomato paste just don’t come in glass jars. I opt for fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables and have done some canning on my own for other things.

Goal: Take a good long look at our health and beauty products and decide if we need to look into products with less chemicals in them. Outcome: Since this was primarily a research goal, I can definitely say I met my goal. Finding suitable replacement products, however, has proven difficult. “Suitable” meaning it works, it’s not overly expensive, it’s mostly natural, and I can find it in a regular store or on Amazon. I have been able to replace facial lotion, body lotion, diaper cream, bar soap, face wash, and kids shampoo with more natural options.  I am struggling to find a more natural option for shampoo and conditioner for myself (due largely to fussy skin, not for lack of trying).

Goal: Shop for more local and/or organic food. Outcome: I’m still trying to strike a happy medium with this goal. Buying 100% organic is majorly cost prohibitive, even for just milk, so I’m concentrating only on a handful of fruits and veggies and a few other products that are priced well. In the event that we stop drinking a gallon of milk a day, I might consider going back to organic milk. But for now, I guess my only recourse, considering my financial restraints, is to choose the least offensive mainstream product as possible. Shopping local is a great THEORY, but I just don’t have the time to run all over town. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough, or maybe I can revisit this goal when the kids aren’t so little anymore.

Goal: Reduce the quasi-consumerism that’s running rampant in our house. Outcome: I did almost no garage saling last summer and intend to be selective in my purchases this summer, because we ARE in need of a few things with our surprise baby coming this year. I’ve stopped making weekly Target shopping lists; now we go only about once a month or less.

Goal: And lastly, stay informed on environmental policy and research in environmental topics. Outcome: Maybe not as intense ad I would like, but I try to stay informed through select groups on facebook.

Well, there you have it. That was actually a really long list. I’m surprised I remembered to do half of it, considering it’s mostly in the back of my mind and not a posted list on the fridge.

My goals for this year are simple. Come September, I’m going to have a full plate with a new baby, one child going to school every day, going back to work in October, plus all the usual household chores and cooking and everything that comes up in between. Survival is my primary goal, so I’m expecting a little more reliance on convenience and a little less effort going into some of the labor and time that goes into being green.

I’m not just saying screw it, though.

Earth Day Resolutions 2012

1. Do a little more line drying. (No dryer for over a month has already made me a little weary of this goal, but perhaps just knowing I have access to a working dryer will motivate me more.)

2. Watch for and avoid excess packaging. Sam’s Club is horrible for this. So is Amazon.

3. Continue to cloth diaper as close to 100% of the time as possible.

4. Convince myself and others to purchase our kids “experience gifts” or “gifts of time” instead of toys.

5. Expand the garden. This is one of my very favorite goals. I’ve actually already met it because I built 2 new beds for raspberries and strawberries this year. And I have big plans for the summer after this one!

6. Continue to keep up on organic and Non-GMO topics. Continue research (aka trial & error) on more natural health & beauty products.

7. Sew some stuff instead of buying it. Make some stuff instead of buying it.

8. Make some sort of effort, no matter how small, towards minimalism. We’re not bad, but I’d love to pare things down even more.

I think that’s about all I can handle for the coming year. It’s going to be a busy one. Survival is my first priority, then maybe this stuff. 🙂

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