It’s been a dream in the making for several years, this “going green” thing. Not because of the “global warming” hype you hear in the media. Not because of the tree-hugging advocates and lobbyists. It simply boiled down to our need to live a much simpler lifestyle, reduce our daily stress and save money in the long run. I’m not an “environmentalist wacko” as some would tout, but I do love this earth. I love nature. There is something reassuring about sitting outside of our home overlooking the desert as the sun barely peeks over the eastern horizon and it’s soothing to gaze up at the billions of stars on a clear night. I love the fact that although we live on the edge of town, we don’t have many neighbors and we have a good piece of land. If it were up to me, I’d live even further out in the country, but for now, we’re trying to bloom where we’re planted.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned to can, dehydrate food, feed our family on a tight budget, and not waste anything if I can help it. Both my husband and I are amazed at how little we spend on groceries now, and how well we can eat! (Take a look at us both, and you’ll know we’re definitely not hurting in the food department.) But learning to live simply was many years in the making. It took hours of research, trial and error. It shouldn’t have taken so long; this fast-paced world we live in pushes the idea that if we’re not burning the candle at both ends, we’re not successful. If we don’t have piles of bills to pay at the end of the month, we’re not keeping up with the Jones’. Hogwash!
Living simply is less stressful, although physically more demanding. Go figure. It’s cathartic to spend hours in the kitchen canning fresh foods one finds on sale and stocks up on, or foods which one harvests from their own garden. Wow!
But there’s more to going green than just knowing how to preserve food and feed your family on the cheap. That’s just a small part of it. One thing at a time. Here’s what we’re doing to keep life simple and what I believe are the first few steps to being able to go green:
- Stick it out. If you don’t have the money to buy a home or move, stick it out. Moving to “greener pastures” is expensive (unless a better job comes your way and they’re willing to pay all moving expenses).
- Pay your bills on time. This builds your credit, which is necessary in today’s market for those who are just getting started. This leads to step 3…
- Get out of debt! Quit using your credit cards. Sacrifice those expensive shoes or Starbuck’s coffees or Big Macs. Pay cash, or use your debit card for everything. If you have to charge it, go without. It’s a very painful sacrifice, I know. It’s not easy. (Been there, done that!)
- Do everything you can – right now – to lower your recurring monthly bills. Cut the cable, take down the satellite dish. (Stick with a much lower-cost streaming site, such as Netflix, Hulu, PureFlix, and the list goes on!) Have an RO water filtering system you’re “renting” monthly? Find other ways to purify water, such as a Berkey filtration system, or AlexapurePro (this is my favorite). Any other unnecessary monthly expenditures you pay, STOP IT!
- Cook at home. Quit going out to eat, and pack your own lunch if you work a 9-5 job. Schedule time to sit around the table as a family and eat at home! Even as expensive as groceries are, it is still cheaper than eating out! (Again, another blog post in the making…)
- Balance your work/home environment. I say “work” and “home” and not “work/life”, because, for the majority of us, work is life! If it weren’t for our jobs, many of us would not be able to pay our bills on time, get out of debt, buy groceries, or even have a roof over our heads. But there’s a balance to everything. If you’re stressing about having to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet, perhaps you need to rethink your “ends.” We don’t need half the stuff we think we do. Before you call for my beheading, I know there are life crises that come along to pull out the rug from under us and we fall flat on our butts. Been there, done that, and it was a very long haul to get back on our feet. But it can be done!
- Don’t give up!! That’s a biggie! Moving from a soul-sucking, stress-filled life to one of serenity and calm can be, in itself, a stressful endeavor. But you’ll get there if you’re committed…and the rewards for drawing boundaries and being able to say “no” far outweigh the stress it took to make them!!
Over the course of these past two to three years, we have been doing exactly what I’ve listed above. I admit it: sometimes it sucks! Plain and simple. But as we’ve gotten used to “doing without,” we’ve discovered that we have more than we bargained for! We’re still in the process of debt elimination, but we’re getting there!
In Part 2 of this blog, I will discuss the first benefit we discovered in our journey to live more simply and go green.