Friday, February 26, 2010

Resolutions


Last year, I didn't make any New Year's resolutions because I had already spent a good year or so making one, green, environmentally friendly resolution at a time until I incorporated it into my lifestyle. I still have a similar feeling. There are some things in my life I'm always working on (or trying to work on), and it seems trite to make them New Year's Resolutions:  exercise more; be more patient with Duncan; floss every day; keep recycling paper; stop procrastinating. This is hardly the stuff of a REAL resolution. And now, here we are, fifty-some-odd days out from New Year's...and it's a little late. I can't call them birthday resolutions because it's too late; I can't chalk them up to Lent because that would by hypocritical; but there are a couple of things I want to work on, and writing them down and publishing them will help me focus.  So here they are, with you as my witnesses.  The Great Snowpocalypse Resolutions of 2010. There are only two, but they are complex and and tightly intertwined...tangled...if you will.

1.  Make Stuff

I love creating things. I like to knit, I'm obsessed with textiles, I love to read craft blogs, and I own way too many craft books. Although I have limitations when it comes to finishing things, I like the idea of making things for my friends and family. I like putting the time into making something unique, and I like the creative outlet. Crafting makes me feel relaxed and useful, and it calms my brain. It benefits the earth as well. Knitting a gift for someone is more ecologically friendly than driving to the mall and throwing down money for a product that is made of materials that don't biodegrade, that are packaged in excessive paper and plastic, that have often been produced in ways that are not friendly to people or the environment, and that have acquired a large carbon footprint in their production and delivery.

You may mock me now, if you know me, because you know I have not picked up my knitting needles in a year except to make a stab at Baby Ben's baby sweater, which I never finished.  Baby Ben is nearly 2, and I started that sweater before he was born. That sweater is a mark of my failure, but I'm too stubborn to rip it out and too incapable of finish the second sleeve.  Anywho...

I think I can make a stab at this. I have already started a storage bin in the basement to collect completed projects for next Christmas. I started with the ubiquitous scarf:  easy to start, quick to knit, easy to finish. I'm knitting scarves for each of Duncan's teachers. He has four teachers, and I'm working on my third scarf. It seems like a reasonable goal. I'm also working on the infamous gift I started for Lorna eons ago. I have ideas for knitting projects and other crafts for everyone in my family. If I approach this resolution one project at a time, I can make serious progress. (Well, I need to have two projects going at any one time so I don't get bored, but NO MORE THAN TWO!  ANY more than two is a recipe for disaster)

It's simple really. Make stuff...for myself, my family, and the earth. Our ancestors did it. I can do it.

2.  Buy Less Stuff

I live in the middle of nowhere. It is an hour drive to a shopping mall or a decent department store. Whatever. I chose this life, and I need to live it without whining. The problem is that it has become my excuse to buy whatever I need or want on the internet. The ease with which I can justify ordering things is terrifying, and it's causing a lot of problems. Let's start with how far my stuff travels, eating up nonrenewable fossil fuels. What am I thinking? I need to learn to plan better, to do without, or to think about a purchase before committing to its carbon footprint. Secondly, we have too much stuff. You can see it with the naked eye. We're out of space, and our house is full of things that will ultimately end up in a landfill. All my efforts to live, clean, and eat in a sustainable way are being undone by the boxes that arrive daily from Amazon.com. Finally, there is the little matter of how I have been paying with those purchases, often with a credit card, for its pure convenience. We want to buy a house; we have too much credit card debt; we have too much stuff; we care about the earth. It's a pretty simple equation. Solve for x. X = Buy Less Stuff.

The easiest way for me to tackle this resolution is to revisit Shawn Achor's twenty-one day plan to making a life change. Beginning on March 1, for 21 days, I'm only allowing myself to make online purchases if I use my debit card. I think it will be difficult for the first week and will grow progressively easier. The debit card has a much lower limit (ha ha) so I will need to stop and think about my purchases. Imagine.  Stop. And. Think.  Stop. And. Think. = Buy. Less. Stuff.

3.  Make Stuff/Buy Less Stuff

Do you see how they are intertwined? Maybe not; perhaps it's not as obvious I think it is. If I make stuff, I won't need to buy as much stuff. That's pretty simple, right? If I make stuff, I will also reclaim the kind of creativity that will encourage me to repurpose what I already have. I will slow down my need to acquire as I relearn the patience it requires to stick with a project through its completion. Maybe, I'll be too busy knitting to have time to shop. Maybe I'll develop such an appreciation for hand-crafted, eco-friendly stuff that I'll lose my taste for the mass produced, just as I have lost the ability to eat Kraft processed cheese slices. If I make stuff, I will buy less stuff. I will consume fewer resources and return less to the landfill.

It may be a fantasy, but it's my fantasy. I firmly believe that these changes are the most logical next steps in my attempts to lead a greener and more sustainable lifestyle, and they're essential if we want to be ready to buy our own house (with some fantasy solar panels...). Wish me luck. I have some scarves to finish.

(And Jay, if you're reading this, sometimes it's okay to use the word "stuff" - as long as you have thought it out and used it for effect.)
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