Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Does It Mean to Live Naturally?

There are a variety of ways to live naturally. Nowadays some folks feel that living naturally only means eating totally organic food, and making or purchasing only furniture and products free of chemicals. Often this way of living is difficult for some as organic food can be more expensive and not everyone has time to make their own clothing. This shouldn't mean that we give up our efforts to live as naturally as we possibly can. The most important first step is to know your lifestyle and what can work for you to ensure a greater likelihood that your natural behaviors will begin and continue.

First, take a look around your home and see what you already own that is a natural product. Are your shoes and clothing not leather and only made from organic cotton? Is your furniture made without formaldehyde and other toxins? If not, perhaps you can begin to identify a plan to slowly, one garment at a time, begin to include chemical free, eco-friendly clothing into your wardrobe. If that sounds like too big of an expense for you right now maybe taking the time to learn how to stitch your own clothing made from healthy fabrics will work better for you. You can join a stitching group or get your friends together to start one!

Second, make a list of your daily routine chores and activities. Are you driving to work? Is your workplace 2 miles away? If so, perhaps you can walk or bike to work one day out of the week. Are you eating out everyday at fast food restaurants? If so, maybe you can begin to pack a healthy lunch for yourself each day instead. Do you have time on the weekends to plant a garden or to join a local community clean-up group? Look at how you can include more eco-friendly activities into your daily or weekly routines in a way that will be fun and fulfilling for you.

Lastly, what type of food are you ingesting? If you are an all meat eater and cooking with a lot of artificial sweeteners or processed food items, then this step might be more difficult to take. So, take it slowly. Start with eating a whole grain and vegetable dinner one night out of the week. Then, make that meal organic too. Eventually you may find yourself enjoying whole fruits and vegetables so much that you are cooking this way for lunch and other days of the week. If you really get into it, you can join your local CSA to get organic fruits and vegetables from your nearby farm. Or, you can even begin your own organic backyard or patio garden. Whatever you decide, start out slowly and make it fun so that your eating habits are more likely to change and continue.

One step at a time and in a way that works for you is the best piece of advice to begin to live more naturally. An attempt to move from one extreme to another will rarely result in a consistent permanent change to live more naturally. No matter how many steps or how large of a step you take to live more naturally it is still a step. Praise yourself for that step and keep going!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Green Thanksgiving

‘Tis the season to give thanks, to go green, and to eat a lot of delicious food! What are the ways you can make this Thanksgiving greener for you and your family?

To start, the simplest way to go green this Thanksgiving is to give thanks. The root of living naturally is to live with values of gratitude and compassion. Thus, Thanksgiving is perfectly in sync with going green since we sit around the dining room table and each share all that we are grateful for.

Second, if you are able to buy the produce for your delicious ingredients at your local farmers market, and that produce is organic too, you just scored major points in going green this Thanksgiving. There may not be a farmers market in your town, so look online for other nearby towns that may host them. Often a larger city near you will hold them on the weekends.

Third, when buying packaged foods at the market look for items that are easily recycled, such as cardboard containers, cans and bottles. More and more companies are also using less packaging, so you may just find that your favorite stuffing has a smaller box, but not less stuffing mix in it. We have the experience of opening large boxes that don’t need to be that big given the amount of food in it, so try to stick with those companies that are breaking that habit.

Fourth, try to reduce carbon emissions by staying at home this Thanksgiving. Perhaps it is time to get to know your neighbors better and they can just walk over rather than parents or cousins flying or driving hours to get to you. Skype offers a fabulous and free option to be with your family on Thanksgiving without the added carbon emissions of a plane or a car. This is a truly difficult step to take if you only see your family once or twice a year due to distance, so please don’t feel you need to follow all of these steps. Only choose those that fit your lifestyle and needs.

Fifth, plan ahead and know from your guests what they would like to eat and how much they will eat to estimate better how much food to make. Leftovers are great if you are sure you will actually eat them! Composting produce is another efficient way to recycle by returning produce to the earth to improve fertile soil toward the production of new vegetables or flowers. If you plan incorrectly and still end up with a whole turkey untouched, then bring it to a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen where you will again be truly showing some of the greenest values of all - compassion and generosity.