The first week of January is long gone already! While my actual 2017 goals still remain a bit elusive, I want to share a few things that I’m going to endeavor this year. First, I am doing whatever I can to make sure that the things that I do and the items that I buy do not harm anyone. There are a lot of clickable links in this post – if any topic piques your curiosity, I encourage you to go deeper and learn more about it.
Eat Less Beef
When I was a kid, our beef was raised in our own barn, along with chickens, ducks, and pigs. It wasn’t always easy to see an animal go from baby to the processor (it was pretty easy, however, when that chicken took a chunk out of your leg when you were walking the path from the school bus to the house, or when that steer gave you a swift kick in the stomach for no good reason), but we knew what the animals ate, the conditions in which they lived, and the quality of life they experienced. While there’s a growing movement of small farms going back to sustainable and humane methods of raising animals, billions of animals are now raised in CAFOs or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. If you’re not familiar with CAFOs, please click CAFOs above. Warning: There are extremely disturbing images and information on this site.
This year I’ll be eating less beef as raising it has the most dramatic negative impact on the environment. There’s still a little in the freezer and if I dine at someone’s home I will thankfully eat what has been prepared, but as much as possible, I will eat less. Hopefully we will eventually be able to raise our own pigs and chickens on the farm, but if not, I will obtain them from a local farmer that I know.
Buy Fair Trade Whenever Possible
Perhaps it’s just me, but I honestly had no idea that so many things I consume and enjoy have the potential to cause a great deal of harm to others. Awhile back I wrote For The Love Of Chocolate but unfortunately, that’s just one industry that enslaves men, women, and children. There is also cotton and sugar and tobacco and coffee and rice and fruit and vegetables and seafood (shrimp and tuna) and clothes and shoes and bricks and iron and gold and diamonds – you can read more here and here. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month so a quick Internet search will give you lots of additional information.
When I buy any of these food or clothing items, I look for local, fair trade, and organic in the hope that no one suffered so I could eat a meal or dress myself. I use the Better World Shopping Guide if I need to purchase something, making sure that I patronize companies that have a good track record for supporting human rights. Though I’m not in the market to buy diamonds or gold, if I were, I would go to a locally owned jewelry store that sells vintage or estate jewelry.
Purchase Used Items Instead of New
In 2006 a group of people in San Francisco started a group called The Compact. Their goal was to go for twelve months without buying anything new. You can read all the details here. My favorite proponent of The Compact is Katy Wolk-Stanley, who blogs at www.thenonconsumeradvocate.com. Katy consistently shares Five Frugal Things that she’s done or articles she’s written for Clark Howard’s money saving website. Katy promotes the New England adage “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” This saying was popular during World War II, but post war prosperity made it obsolete. In fact, we replace things when we get tired of them with little thought to the environmental cost.
When I was working, some of the dresses and sweaters I wore were purchased at thrift stores. If anyone noticed, they didn’t say anything about it. Maybe because no one really notices or <gasp!> cares? Since my retirement, I’ve purchased several winter clothing items at my local thrift store and also raided my Mom’s donation box (thanks for the hat, Mom, it’s perfect!) Sure, they aren’t necessarily in my favorite color or the most attractive, but I’ve found that Hannah and the chickens aren’t really that concerned about how fashionable I look and my main concern is avoiding frostbite.
As much as possible, I will buy from thrift and antique stores. Yes, it can be time consuming and it’s rare that I find everything I want or need exactly when I want or need it. Yes, sometimes I have to scrounge through a lot of sketchy stuff to find a gem. It seems a small concession as I work toward my last endeavor, which is reducing waste.
It’s virtually possible to purchase anything that isn’t packaged with scads of non-reusable or non-recyclable materials. Yes, I take my cloth bags along to the grocery store and use little cloth bags when I’m purchasing bulk produce or beans and nuts. I also take my bags into thrift stores and other retailers so I don’t have to take home yet another plastic bag, which is good, but it only scratches the surface of the problem. There are some products that come in recyclable containers, but the truth is that not everything that is recyclable actually gets recycled, even when someone takes the time to put it into the recycle bin. The impact of all this waste on the planet is pretty frightening. You can read more about the zero waste movement here and here.
It’s little weird, but I made a to go kit that I keep in my car so that if I need to take home leftovers, or if I need to get a drink when I’m out, I have a container or glass to use, avoiding styrofoam or cardboard containers and plastic water bottles. It’s also possible that I take along a freshly laundered pillowcase when I go to Tecumseh Bread & Pastry so I can use it to put bread, bagels, and other baked goods inside.
There are a lot of ways to reduce waste and I’m just getting started on putting things into practice. Eating less beef, which is typically packaged in styrofoam and plastic, and purchasing used instead of new are also steps in the right direction.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a song that I enjoy listening to on New Year’s Day, This Year, by JJ Heller. You can listen to the official version of This Year or the version I like best here. I hope you’ll click the link and listen. My favorite part is the last verse where it says “I plan on thinking less of I and me and resolve to think of us and we.”
If you’ve already got your goals all lined up for the year, please leave a comment on www.nakedonthetundra.com at the top of the post or on Facebook so I will be inspired to get mine wrapped up!