Today is Blog Action Day – the day when bloggers around the web, and around the world, are uniting to bring environmental issues to light. The following is my offering to this great movement.
I try not to be too heavy-handed with it, but sometimes it just comes through. I’m a tree hugger. Perhaps it’s a product of growing up in a small town, a rural community with vast amounts of nature to enjoy. Perhaps it comes from my parents, who instilled a love of camping and the outdoors in me from a young age. Or maybe Smokey the Bear really just got to me when I was young (only I can stop forest fires!).
However it came to be, I have dedicated a large portion of my time and energy to making sure that I live a life of conservation and environmental awareness. The beauty of all this is that it naturally saves me money. Attempting to use less resources, to reuse items that can be reused, and to recycle tends to be easier on the wallet. After all, if you use less, you buy less!
I do take this to somewhat of an extreme. I engage in a practice called Compacting. The basic principle of Compacting is that you make an agreement with yourself not to buy anything new, with the exception of food, health, and safety products. Everything else must be bought used, or gone without. From the Compacting blog:
1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. — a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
Compacting was largely started as an environmental movement, but it was quickly discovered that Compacting could save vast amounts of money. Since each Compacter makes the agreement with themselves, they decide how far they want to go with it. Some Compacters in cities have given up cars as part of their Compact, since gas and other maintenance items must be bought for them. This may not be possible for those of us living in areas where biking and public transportation are not possible.
In addition to the creed of not buying new, here are some other things I do to as part of my Compact:
- When buying food items, I strive to buy those with the least packaging.
- I attempt to drive my car only as often is as necessary, combining trips and staying on campus all day instead of driving home and back.
- Recycling as much as possible.
- Consuming media electronically whenever possible. This means reading newspapers and magazines online, as well as downloading songs from iTunes instead of buying CDs (not that I’ve actually had the money to buy songs lately!).
- Using Freecycle both as a way to find items I need, as well as a way to give away items I don’t (I gave a lot away during our recent move.
- Eliminating unneeded objects from my life, via Freecycle, donation, or garage sale (I’m still working on this – sometimes, it’s hard to let go).
You can see how these behaviors improve both my environmental impact and my bottom line. But I understand that many people aren’t prepared to sacrifice quite so much as I have. But anyone can take the ideas of the Compact and adapt it to their own life. These tips are not just for those of us who have dedicated ourselves to the cause. If everyone adopted just a few of the Compact principles, there would be a great force of change.