autumn days

Monday, December 13, 2010

problems and solutions

Dearest Hannah,

Now that you know my intention of taking you on an adventure to balance some of the challenges in the world around us, let's talk about some of the challenges and solutions that await our healing hands.

I am honestly writing this letter as a response to my reading Colin Beavan's book: No Impact Man.  Despite the hard realities of the book, I was drawn in by Colin not being an expert on activism or the environment.  Like me, he was someone who wanted to stop just talking about change and start making the changes. 

My thinking, as your papa says I am being dramatic, is that whatever positive change I make in the world will still be helpful to others, regardless of any impending crises.  Change starts from within oneself and works its way outward.  I must be the change I wish to be in the world.  It has taken me years to finally feel enough peace and stability (thank goodness your papa is patient), and I am now moving to the next challenge.  For me, that next level is writing these letters to you and holding myself accountable for what they say.

In identifying challenges in our world, there are so many.  Of the many examples Colin Beavan brought up in his book, one example is the world running out of water.  Colin wrote that the USA, despite having an abundance of water, has some states running out of clean usable water in 10 years.  His end-of-world view is that eventually only the richest of the rich will be able to buy technology and rights to clean water while the rest of the world perishes.  Again, even if this is at all unrealistic, what do we have to lose by attempting to make our water supply cleaner and honestly renewable?  I'll list a few other issues, though this list could go on for miles.
  • excess garbage
  • so much "recyclable" plastic not being recyclable
  • local recycling companies unable to mark many plastics marked recyclable
  • recyclables not being recycled
  • unclean energy less expensive than renewable energy
  • household chemicals ending up in watersupply
  • household chemicals ending up in our food supply (plants and animals)
  • garbage outside of landfills ending up in oceans, killing animal species
  • too much packaging on our foods
  • animals and plants becoming extinct
  • non-native species taking over habitats
  • key species becoming extinct, thereby ending the life of entire ecosystems
  • rain undrinkable due to air pollution
  • more people getting cancer, asthma, and other diseases
  • taking over necessary habitat with urban sprawl
  • consumers buying new, new, new, instead of gently used at lower prices

Now that I've brushed the surface of things that need fixing in our world, what are the solutions?  Let's start with communicating with one another that we wish to make the world healthier.  This letter is stating and sharing my intention as such.  I do love lists; they help me accomplish things.  So here is a list of things I've already put into action.  Remember, it's just our beginning.
  • cloth diapers for my children
  • washable cloth diaper wipes
  • cloth handkerchiefs in place of paper tissues
  • cloth napkins
  • cloth grocery bags
  • reuse bulk bags and plastic bags
  • washable dishes instead of disposable when hosting
  • run all my errands at once instead of in many small trips
  • walk to friends' homes and the local parks
  • think about what I want to buy until I've decided it is a practical useful purchase
  • limit my traveling, only driving to activities within 25 minutes of home
  • purchase organic animal products: cheese, milk, meat
  • attempt to buy organic and local fruits and vegetables
  • grow fruits and vegetables at home we'd purchase from the store
  • compost fruit, vegetable, and yard waste in garden
  • limit my consumption of meat to 2-3 times a week
  • share a CSA vegetable basket with a friend from a local organic farm
  • purchase a quarter of a local organic cow
  • take environmental sustainability teacher courses
  • wrap gifts in cloth bags
  • wrap gifts in recyclable colored coloring pages
  • give homemade gifts from materials at home
  • save non-recyclables to take to super-recycling facility
  • create art from the clean non-recyclable garbage
  • get extra art and business supplies from SCRAP, a local second hand salvaging shop
  • share magazine subscriptions
  • get all other reading material from computer or local library
  • CDs and DVDs from local library
  • buy used toys, art supplies, books, etc. from yardsales and craigslist/freecycle
  • no more airplane travel, drive to destinations
  • read books with ideas on environmental problems solutions
  • read the children's book Fancy Nancy's Everyday is Earth Day
  • research, reflect on, and space out child immunizations
  • stay home with my children so I have quality of life instead of quantity of cool stuff
  • talk frankly with my children about environmental issues as they arise in conversation
And there are so many more things I'd like to put into action.  We won't accomplish all of these.  Some of the these feel like reaching for the moon, but the farther we reach, the farther we will travel.  (I write as if for both of us because we will go on these adventure together.) 
  • help your papa's business run without chemicals or excess waste (garbage, water, etc.)
  • make and share only beeswax candles
  • raise bees to provide beeswax and honey
  • raise chickens for family pets, garden fertilizer, and meat (name them Stew, Roast, etc.)
  • buy more of our goods second hand
  • buy more foods in bulk without excess packaging
  • stop using so much refined sugar and flour at home
  • bake own bread
  • walk or ride bikes to most destinations
  • have one family car instead of two
  • take the train to far away destinations instead of driving
  • have virtually no garbage and very little recycling
  • use biodegradable cat little for garden fertilizer after use
  • clean home with towels and rags instead of throwaway wipes
  • buy as much food local and organic as possible
  • barter with friends and neighbors
  • talk with others on solutions that work for them
In another letter I will turn this last list into actual goals.  I will write to you every week throughout our journey as we work towards these goals.  Again, I know you're with me, even if you didn't have to be.  We'll create some meaningful change if we keep taking little steps.

Much love,
your mama

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