Natural Living

A blog I visit regularly, Walk Slowly, Live Wildly, recently blogged about her journey towards environmentally-concious living, natural living, and simple living, and challenged her readers to do the same.  I really had no intention of doing so, since my journey is slow and in the beginning stages.  But, it is a journey that has begun, nonetheless.

Here’s my one small token of knowledge: It’s all about habits.  I’ve been in the habit of reduce/reuse/recycle since I was a kid, because it was just something we did in our house.  Same with shopping at thrift stores and buying things used when appropriate, although I didn’t realize that was an earth-friendly habit until recently.  (If I buy it used, it doesn’t go in the garbage, and resources don’t need to be used to make the new one I would have purchased.) 

I came across this today:

What’s the most efficient way to travel?
1. bike and walk
2. mass transit (vehicle ¾ full)
3. carpool (3 people, 21.5 mpg)
4. intercity train (average occupancy)
5. economy car (1 driver, 40 mpg)
6. mass transit (vehicle ¼ full)
7. jet travel (US average occupancy)
8. average car (1 driver, 21.5 mpg)
9. SUV (1 driver, 15 mpg)

Interesting.  For me, flying is more efficient, per mile, than driving by myself.  However, those are my most common ways to get around.  (I don’t even think I can count flying as a “common” way I get around…once in eight years???)  Six of the nine choices are more efficient than what I usually do.  I’ve been becoming aware of my energy-guzzling transportation habits over the past year, I’m just not sure what I can do about them.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:  I could move to a city with a great public transportation system.  I could move closer to my job.  I could get a job closer to my apartment.  I could spend about 2 hours on the city bus each morning, making my way ALL the way across town.  I think I need to keep thinking.  🙂  If I still live in this apartment, I know of a few coworkers who would be close enough to carpool, but everyone has such different work habits.  Some people go early, some people stay late, some people have meetings and extracurriculars.  Some people have to drop off kids at day care on their way.  Some people just want the freedom to not plan whether or not they will go early or stay late. 

Another thing I am aware of is that it takes more resources to produced animal-source food than plant-source food.  I am not a vegetarian, and I probably never will be.  I have a few stereotypical “vegetarian” recipes that I love, like soy spread (I know it sounds gross) and hummus (even grosser…) and spinach lasagna (maybe you should just try them).  I also just tend not to eat meat.  It’s more expensive and I just don’t like it enough to buy it just for me.  I don’t think I could ever be a vegan, because I love my dairy products!  But on the topic of habit, I am definitely in the habit of eating more plant-source food than animal-source food on a daily basis.

I am, on the other hand, becoming more and more anti-chemicals in my home.  I like the idea of natural products to clean my house and my body.  I no longer buy toilet bowl cleaner, I clean my toilet with Pine-Sol instead.  That, I know, is a tiny step because Pine-Sol is obviously still cleaning chemical of some kind, but in my mind it just seems more gentle and harmless.  I also really hate anti-bacterial anything.  It kills 99% of bacteria–the weakest 99%.  The other 1% is the strongest little buggers that can survive the chemicals.  If they survive the chemicals, do you think my immune system can fight them off???  Regular soap, on the other hand, washes the germs off my skin/dishes/floor/whatever and down the drain.  Maybe not 99% of them, but most of them.  And it leaves a random sample of germs.  When my immune system comes accross a not-so-strong germ, it can easily defeat it and I will be immune to all of that particular species, strong and weak.  At least, that’s how it was explained to me and it makes sense, yes?

I think my blogger-friend is right to call it a journey.  We can’t save our world in one day.  I can’t change my life overnight.  I can just take one babystep at a time, change habit by habit, and always have a goal of making progress.

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