I am currently reading Ecoholic by Adria Vasil. Actually I had been eyeing it for awhile, but was reluctant to pick it up because in a way I wanted to stay ignorant. Not that I want to be horrible to the environment, just that I was worried if I read it I would feel so guilty and hopeless to do much about it. I couldn't avoid it anymore though as it was staring me in the face, sitting on the shelf in my chiropractor's lending library, so finally I brought it home.
The book is definitely an eye opener to the ways in which everyday products and services are destroying our world. I'm not going to give you the run down here, if you really want to know go read the book (and I suggest you do).
But actually what I was most surprised about was how our lifestyle, with minimal effort, is actually not that bad when it comes to our ecological footprint. Ok, it's not nearly as good as it should be, but I think compared to most people we are actually living fairly green without even trying. We tend to be minimalists by nature, not really spending that much time or money on products in general. We're not huge consumers, usually accepting used items from friends and family members and only really buying new clothes when absolutely necessary. Granted a lot of this is because we've never had enough money to justify spending it on material items. Still, we're not overly fussed about decorating our house or buying all the latest technology.
Since starting reading Ecoholic, I have never been so happy to be, well, me! In the past I would feel kind of sad that it seemed everyone else had nicer things than me. It felt like everyone I knew had fancy decor and furniture, the newest gadgets including iPhones, iPads, Nintendo Wii, big screen tvs, fancy computers, nice cars, designer clothes. Everything shiny and new, and expensive.
Now, knowing what I know from the book I am so thankful we are how we are. It means that we've spent substantially less money supporting companies who are ruining the earth.
After reading the first section on beauty products and how harmful they are not only to the environment, but also ourselves, I realized how few I use. I almost never wear makeup, maybe a bit of powder if my skin looks like crap and the whole get up I do maybe once a month, if that. I'm not a sucker for fancy creams, I don't use deodorant (and I'm pretty sure I don't stink), and I pretty much use the bare minimum of everything else. I do like to use nice skin care, but have realized that it doesn't have to be expensive and have been trying to use only natural products. I'm slowly changing all our beauty care products over to only all natural stuff.
One big department though that I know I have to make changes in is clothing. It's easy to ignore the terrible practices involved in the making of cheap clothing. Unfortunately my thoughts when needing new clothes have always been "How much cheap stuff can I get for x amount of money?". Now I know I should be spending it more wisely, maybe only buying one or two quality fair-trade items at a time rather than as much crappy stuff as I can afford. And it makes sense really, because every time I buy cheap clothes realize they are so poorly made they don't fit right anyway, and they just fall apart quicker. For the boys thankfully we have relied almost entirely on second hand clothes from my cousins who have two boys, so I know at least the clothes are getting good use and we're not spending money buying more of them.
I've only read about beauty products and clothes so far, and am currently in the health care section (and again happy that we are not pill poppers who rely on medications, prescription or OTC, rather we focus on making our bodies healthy so they can fight off illness on their own). There are still many sections to cover still, and I know I will learn much more about how to live green, especially in other areas like cleaning (I already don't use commercial cleaners, just water and vinegar, but am looking forward to more tips), technology, and of course food.
Ok, so if we had ever been in the position to spend a lot of money on nice things, I'm sure we would have. But now at least, if we ever can afford more 'stuff', I will know what to look for and which companies I should be supporting.
Now I feel proud that we don't have nice things or care about the newest trends!
I'm really glad I've picked up this book. I've only made a dent in it so far, but I'm learning so much already and feel not only more enlightened, but proud of ourselves for have already making good headway in the living green department. Of course, there is always room for improvement!