Monday, December 31, 2007

So, What the Heck Are We Doing?

I love the idea of Compacting. I know people are are committing to it for 2008, and it sounds fantastic. I started 2007 following the Compact as an individual act. Eventually I switched over (mostly) mindful buying, and that worked well.

Mid-year the Riot 4 Austerity began. The is the 90% carbon emissions reduction project. I started gangbusters with the R4A. It spoke to me as a way of changing our consumption patterns long term, and not just our consumer spending.

Over the past month I've been teeter-tottering between the two projects. I love the idea of Compacting, and I have to say that I honestly think it is the easier of the two projects. After all, you don't have to change your consumption of fuel, electricity, natural gas, water, etc. You don't have to seek out local food. I know, many people will also do these things, but you don't have to.

So after much wrangling, we've decided on the R4A. We may not hit a full 90% reduction while we live in So Cal, but we will do what we can to reduce our overall consumption and carbon footprint.

Why not both? The reality is that participating in the R4A may require the purchase of new goods in order to lower consumption in other areas. In reality, I had already made many exceptions when I formed my compact last year.

These were last years goals, not all part of the Compact, but using that as my starting point:

I will carefully consider each purchase I make, even in the exception areas. I will strive to see if I have something that I can use before assuming I need to buy something. I will consider the food I buy, the amount of (used) clothing that comes into the house, and where any allowed new goods come from and what they are made of (natural materials, organics, fair trade, fair labor, etc.)

Absolutely, right on. I won't change a word.

This is the year of making do. No new towels, no new sheets, no new furniture, no new small appliances, pans, or kitchen gadgets. No new decorations for holidays or decorative house items. No new hair accessories, or aprons (but I can sew one), or jewelry. Certainly for 12 months we can make do with what we have.

I like the concept, but we do need a few things. Towels for the boys (Um, they are still using blue hippo capes designed and sized for three year-olds. Plus I have learned ~ get brown towels. They dry their hands on them so I need to match the color of mud). We may buy an organic mattress and a bed frame for it. I still don't think we need any of the other stuff listed. Oh, we need a cleaver.

It is also the year of making. If we want fancy soap we'll mill it from the plain soap we have on hand with herbs and essential oils. I will make the new pot holders I need (I have the loom and wool loops). I really want to make the quilt I planned out (just need to scavange more denim and corduroy).

Yeah that!

All my and the boys' clothing except underwear, socks, shoes, and boys' pajamas must be bought used, traded for, borrowed, or received for free. We're not frivolous shoe purchasers anyway, but I will only replace necessary shoes (sandals and walking shoes) that are beyond wearing. The boys may each have one pair of sandals, one pair of sneakers, and one pair of hiking boots, and I am ordering T-Guy a new pair of slippers for next fall and will pass his down to J-Baby. This goal is actually a continuation of one started last summer, except that we won't make exceptions for sale new clothing.

We're still working on this. I'm having trouble with pants. Good news is we didn't need to buy pajamas at all, and we managed without hiking boots as well.

I will stop buying the little stuff - a toy here, a snack there. You know, the kind of stuff that will nickel and dime you to death.

Still doing this, and hoping for 100% in 2008.

Food must be carefully considered and chosen based on need. Natural sodas (the kind made with cane sugar) are out. Prepared snack foods are out (it will probably be a month or more before they run out of the GF pretzels, microwave popcorn, and organic fruit leather we bought for consumption during my recovery). Chocolate will be okay for special occasions (organic and fair trade, of course). DH will still buy wine and tea. I will make whole wheat bread, but will purchase vegan GF bread. Canned beans are allowed as an emergency food.

Ok, you got me. We still bought natural soda for special occasions. Our diet changed dramatically over the past year with a new medical diagnosis. Home cookingn is even more essential that it seemed a year ago. Our goals this year also involve buying as much local food as we can. That's part of the R4A. We joined a CSA (they finally have one in our area!).

Our goal is to eat out only twice a month, coinciding with payday, and only at local establishments. We will have to make some allowances for travel. We also have to figure out how this works with family, as both of our families prefer to get together at restaurants rather than cook meals (large holidays excluded). I am more than willing to cook, but people don't always want to come to us, nor do they all like eating vegan food.

Still the goal, actually we'd like to eat out less. Our new plan involves only eating out when family occasions require it.

No new books. First I see if the library has the book I want to read; if not, I see if I can borrow it from someone I know. If it is a must have book (for information, no fiction allowed) I will find it used. My book addiction is serious especially since half the time I realize I could have done without whatever book I ordered from Amazon. In addition to not buying new books I will not browse used bookstores or the thrift store for books that I am not specifically searching for. Really, I have enough unread books here at home to keep me reading all year.

I had to buy some reference books new. But I can hardly believe how well we shifted our thinking on books. We use the library regularly, and we buy books used almost all of the time. I did buy several books written by authors of my favorite blogs.

No magazines purchased in stores. I have subscribed to the magazines I am most likely to pick up, and will read the others at the library, go without, or find a way to borrow them or buy them used. I do have one homeschooling magazine that I need to call and order on the 3rd (no online orders).

Fell down on this. Picking myself up and trying again.

No new music. This isn't usually an issue for me until holiday time, but I am putting it out there now.

I received one CD as a gift. I didn't buy any for myself or the boys.

I am going to inventory our craft supplies and choose projects based on what we have. We have so much to choose from that we just have to say no to some of the great stuff out there. It will be okay to replenish consumables such as glue, chalk, crayons, etc. Even then I don't anticipate needing to do much more than replace the frequently used Stockmar colors. We do need 9 X 12 drawing paper.

This worked well, and we'll continue it into 2008.

We will make all greeting cards or use our stash cards (scavenged by my dad). We will recycle gift bags, make wrap, and use any old wrap we have.

It was great to wrap all presents with stash wrap, reused wrap, and homemade wrap. I bought a couple of cards; stash sympathy cards seemed heartless when the losses were in my own family. If it happens again I'll write letters.

I will not buy new yarn until the stash is gone and even then I will try to find sweaters to frog. Any yarn purchased after the stash is gone must be for a specific project. The exception to this will be if I decide to make hats for any kids as I don't have any superwash wool and I don't anticipate many parents wanting to care for merino or alpaca.

I did well with this, buying synthetics a couple of times for kids' gifts, and some cotton. I'm going to keep it up.

I am going to learn to sew. Any fabric purchased new must be for a specific project. However, before that I will use reclaimed fabric, thrift store fabric, etc. I have about 5 yards of flannel but certainly do not have a stash and am not going to build one.

I did start learning, and will continue in 2008. I was gifted a nice stash from a friend who was moving.

I have begun studying herbalism. I will allow myself to purchase necessary supplies to make herbal medicines and personal care products. This is an investment year; I may need funnels, storage jars, etc. that I will never need again. Still, I will source used goods whenever possible (please don't suggest pickle jars...I never seem to be able to get rid of the pickle smell and I will not ruin good herbs that way).

New medical diagnosis coincided with increased allergies. I've mostly had to give up herbalism. The good news is that I spend very little on it before I found out.

We are allowed to purchase what we need to start our garden, including minimal tools, lumber for raised beds, seeds and starts, soil amendment, etc.

Photo paper and inks are permitted.

Artisan goods are allowed. Entertainment is allowed if it falls within our budget. Experiences are allowed.

Yes to all of the above.

Items I didn't get around to purchasing in 2006 that are still possibly on the slate for early 2007: a wool mattress pad for the boys' bed, a futon mattress for FIL to sleep on when he is here (if he decides to come weekly), ear phones for my iPod (yes, I have's nearly 3 years old), a clothes rack and/or umbrella style drying rack. I'm going to try to find alternatives (such as finding a used king-sized 100% wool blanket and felting it for the boys' pad). I planned to buy ear phones before now, but haven't been able to get out to try any.

I felted a wool blanket for DS. I went without ear phones until the holidays, when I received a pair as a gift. We bought a rack system this week.

We're still hammering out the details for 2008. This year we are in it together as a family, which will make a difference. This blog will be specifically related to the R4A project, rather than homeschool or natural living musings.

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