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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Earth Day is SO over...right? Twelve Ways to Bring it Back Every Day.



Well, it is. It was two WHOLE days ago. In this Millennial society, that allocation of time may as well be, what, five thousand light years? I am certain that you've long forgotten the cobalt globes from your newsfeeds; the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle memes; the celebratory planted sapling or the release of fledgling butterflies (true story from Alabama).

I, myself, thought: "Gee, I write a blog on thrifting, I should really celebrate this day and pull something huge off."  And then, life happened to me, in this totally messy, "I've got people coming for dinner and a seven year old with homework and five loads of laundry to fold" kind of way. 

As I lay in bed later that night, feeling like an eco-failure, it occurred to me: April 22nd doesn't need any help. It's fully saturated, like a greasy onion ring; sunken and trapped in the bottom of the fryer. Thousands of Earth Day messages--some powerful, some trite, some meaningless, and many for a PR show--come and go, and they are all forgotten the next day. 

WHAT IF Earth Day was like New Year's Day? What if people scrambled to make their resolutions (even with the looming reality of failure, which is a natural part of success) every year like clockwork, promising to try their best to make changes that could potentially slow global climate change, make the Earth a cleaner and healthier place to live, and most importantly, CONNECT them to this homebase as animals, spiritual beings and CO-INHABITANTS (you know, with the billions of other species who like to hang out here).

I know resolutions are hard. I'll be honest: ten years ago, I wasn't doing so hot. I wasn't recycling my trash at home, because I didn't have access to service, and I was too lazy to drive my recycling across town (thankfully, I don't have to deal with that anymore). I drove a car that used more fuel than I'd like to admit, and I bought a lot of grocery and household products with packaging and chemical additives. I am STILL working on removing some of those products from my life! (Damnit, Lysol, why must you smell so fresh?) However, despite my shortcomings as a flawed human, I still strived to change, a little bit, year after year. 

I can't say that my efforts were inspired by Earth Day, because, well...Earth Day is like any other holiday now. Think about all the t-shirts that are silk-screened to spread a positive message on that day each year regarding the Earth (even if it is on recycled organic cotton). Think about the time, energy and resources that are wasted on advertising campaigns and public service announcements! YES...IT IS FOR A GOOD CAUSE's become a commercialized, sensational event.

Anyone can share a "Happy Earth Day" graphic on their Facebook wall, but do you have what it takes to procure a REAL change in this world? Join me, in a challenge to reduce your consumption of all things new, and to thereby reduce your carbon footprint. It's not just a more conservative way of life, it's a BETTER way of life--for your physical, emotional and spiritual health as well!


Can you set some goals for yourself? This year, one of my main goals is to continue connecting outside with nature as MUCH as possible, SLOW DOWN, and to grow even more of my own produce. I also hope to continue increasing the amount of home made products I use for cleaning!

Do you need some ideas or inspiration? Check out this list I made (corresponding to the graphic above) that highlights some of the things I did last year to reduce my consumption and live more conservatively. 

1. I wore all thrifted outfits--all of the time! I reduced my new clothing (and household decor) purchases to an all time impressive low of 2%--that's what I've calculated as far as new undergarments and shoes go, plus the occasional "must have" clothing purchase. 

2. Re-purposed items like these black dress shoes that I transformed into Saddle Shoes! Check out the DIY here! 

3. Supported the local economy and reduced consumption by frequenting consignment, mission thrifts, and secondhand stores close by.

4.  Incorporated secondhand and vintage pieces into my home decor as much as possible. See my thrifted bathroom makeover and my apartment tour!

5. Grew as many herbs and vegetables as possible in the small space I live in; check out my garden in upcycled containers here (it was last year's LATE Earth Day post, haha!)! That same post also includes the biodegradable dish-washing detergent recipe I use every day! 

6. I pickled that. And made soup. Homemade salsa and other toppings...from all the scraps in my kitchen that would otherwise go bad. Ever heard the expression "garbage stew"? ;)

7.  I ate less meat, and cooked almost every single meal of every day in my own home with fresh ingredients (Some of my recipes are right here in the blog, but if you check out the hashtag #Channyskitchen on Instagram (also in the menu above) you can keep tabs on what's for dinner. MORE VEGGIES! MORE! I'm an omnivore who lives more like a vegetarian, who sometimes eats like a vegan. 

8. I relished the beauty of Lake Michigan, and simply put, practiced being "present" through my runs, which is my preferred way to connect outdoors. 

9. I learned more about the incredible importance of Michigan's wetlands, from air filtration to habitat, and decided to become more involved in wetland stewardship.

10.  I grew my own alfalfa sprouts--and they were delicious (and inexpensive!)

11. I taught young children each week about different parts of the world and their respective cultures--and learned a lot about the world in the process. (I've been a music teacher for the last 14 years, both in early childhood and as a private instructor.)

12.  I tried to be mindful for the beautiful, simple gifts that nature bestowed upon me each day--like sunsets, rain, and this box of dandelions that my son brought to me as a gift. 

How will you celebrate the earth every day this year? And...GO!

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