Monday, April 7, 2008

Ten Good uhh... Habits?

Jo Hunter Adams

These are some (disjointed) ways we're making our lives simpler in the context of life here in Boston. Some are big, some are small, and some might not make sense given your life circumstances.

Small adjustments can translate into a lower-environmental impact life, and a sustainable set of habits where we don't feel deprived, either.

1) Investing in a chest freezer. It's much easier to eat at home when the basics are already in the freezer. And it's much easier to cook for several meals. Because it's not always clear how much we'll eat in the space of time it takes for vegetables to go off, we can also keep some frozen vegetables, pasta sauce, etc. Ours cost $100 second-hand.

2) No TV. I'm not sure we watch less, but watching shows/movies is a choice because we get the DVDs from the library. We also have more space.

3) Growing as much as you possibly can every spring and summer, even if you're in an apartment and it's a freezing climate. I'm going to try to keep track of the cost of this. We're growing primarily from seed this year. Growing your own food means you don't have to consider whether something's local, in season, or organic. It just is. It's also a good way to eat a wide variety of vegetables.

4) Investing in a bread maker (if you don't have time to make your own bread from scratch). It really helps to know what goes into what we eat: bread in regular supermarkets can be either very expensive or very filled with strange substances. We also make our own pizza at least once a week. The cost of a loaf of really good bread is reduced exponentially as the bread maker gradually pays for itself. In our case, the bread maker was a gift.

5) Even though I'm reading a lot these days, I've stopped buying books altogether.. But books were a source of clutter and expense for me-- The libraries in Boston are generally amazing. If I'm tempted, I order the book through the library network.

6) Living in a small place. Its pretty obvious when we have too much stuff, which is helpful. We do have a huge cupboard though, which is also helpful.

7) Eating breakfast. I don't try to keep it super-healthy, I'm still at the point where just making sure I eat something is a good enough step.

8) Weighing in every morning. Sounds weird, but it's much easier to see a trend and make small adjustments if necessary. The aim is just to avoid getting in a rut that's hard to see the way out of. It actually makes me far more able to eat what I like.

9) Knowing our finances. For a while, I wasn't sure how to understand our financial state, and as a result I was just trying to infinitely cut costs. It's really helped to know where we stand so that I can feel safe and make good decisions about whether/when to buy what. For example, if I know we've had a good month financially, I feel pretty comfortable buying more expensive vegetables, or even more able to be generous.

It really helps to have a plan, so that reducing your environmental impact and reaching your financial goals (getting out of debt, giving away a larger percentage of your income, etc) don't seem at odds with one another.

10) Taking my own travelling mug/nalgene everywhere. I'm hoping to do this 100% of the time by the end of this month.