1. Our milk is delivered once a week by a local dairy. This was a novel thing to me when we first did it. Having grown up outside Chicago, milk came in gallon jugs from Jewel, right? Uh, no. Our milk is from hormone-free, antibiotic-free, local frolicking cows. Happy cows. It tastes great.
2. I got a share of local CSA this summer. A CSA is “community supported agriculture.” At the beginning of the season you purchase a share (or a half-share, or share a share with a neighbor as I do), then every week for 20+ weeks you get fresh, organic vegetables grown locally. This summer we have eaten vegetables I never would have considered at the grocery store, mainly because these particular veggies at the store are sad representations of the veggie. But when you get fresh-from-the-ground-that-morning veggies, you eat them and love them.
3. We have a very large freezer out in the garage. It’s full of the 1/4 side of beef we purchased last fall. Again, locally grown, hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef. Happy cows, like the happy cow who introduced herself to Arthur Dent before she popped off to kill herself for his plate and if you know that reference you’re every bit of a geek as I am.
4. There’s also a 1/2 hog in that freezer. Again, say it with me, locally grown, hormone-free, antibiotic-free happy pig. La la laaaaaa…. Yup, I’m full of cultural references today…
5. Beyond food…I’ve replaced every possible lightbulb in the house with compact florescent lightbulbs. It’s hard to tell how much I’ve saved on the electric bills, since I did that just as we started the a/c this summer, but I know it’s a lot lower, comparatively, than last year.
6. This fall I’m going to join our electric company’s “time of use” plan. Basically, it’s higher electric rates from 2 pm-9 pm, and much lower rates the rest of the time. I’ll have to plan laundry and dishwasher use for the lower times, but it’s a lot lower cost and to save cash (gotta pay for that OT…grrr) I’ll change more habits.
7. We have an electric lawn mower. Can I just tell you how long it took Tom to find one to replace the electric one we had? It’s a battery mower, not one with a cord, has to stay plugged in all the time. But there’s no keeping gas in the garage, no fumes, it’s incredibly quiet, and it mows like a charm.
8. We grow more produce (and rhubarb, don’t forget the rhubarb!) in our backyard. Mostly tomatoes, jalapenos, and herbs. I make roasted tomato sauce and freeze it in our ginormous freezer. I use it for pizza sauce and quickie dinners.
9. I used to listen to XM on our DirecTv receiver. And then I saw the electric bill. Holy snot, the receiver and tv and whatever else was on sucks electricity like Dracula sucks blood. So, through the miracle of broadband internet, I listen to online radio. My computer is on already, and the selection of music is incredibly broad. I like Live 365.
10. Use a programmable thermostat. It’s not a big hassle, really. We’d get more savings if we were gone most of the day, but we still have some savings. I like being able to turn it down for vacations and have it turn itself back on before we get home, so the temps are comfy when we walk in the door.
11. Tom’s next car will be a hybrid. He doesn’t drive all that much, working from home, but the brown cloud we see over Denver and the Front Range is humbling.
12. We got the results of A’s allergy testing. Hooboy…he’s allergic (in various levels of allergy) to milk, soy, wheat, eggs, corn, and pork. Also mold and seasonal allergens. Tom’s reaction: “Pork? I’ve never heard of a pork allergy!” Me: “Honey, you’re from Iowa. I doubt they’re going to advertise pork allergies in Iowa.” So we’ve taken A off soy completely. We’ve also cut way back on milk, eggs, and wheat. We have noticed some behavior differences, and that’s great. Next on the list is high-fructose corn syrup. That stuff is liquid death, no need to put it into our bodies. And I suspect that his behavior and everyone’s overall health will improve greatly once it’s gone.
13. Just remember that it’s gotta be babysteps. If I tried to change everything all at once, I’d fail miserably. I don’t change anything until the previous change has taken hold. Most importantly, I forgive myself for previous bad decisions, and forgive myself for not making changes more quickly. I can only do so much for my family and the overall environment without making myself nutso.