It’s amazing the things in life that we take for granted. We are so lucky to have power in our home, clean running water, the choice of how we want our children to be educated. I am visiting this topic because yesterday our cistern ran out of water (or at least I thought it had, it ended up being a malfunction with the pump which was easily fixed) and it got me thinking about how much we as Americans take for granted. We are so wasteful and many of us dont even care.
It’s funny, it’s almost as if this is my form of fasting. It’s a way for me to become closer to the earth and to the things God gives us so that I don’t take them for granted. I am blessed to have these things at my disposal, it’s my job to not be a glutton to them, and to be thankful for them everyday that we have them.
Some of what we do comes from being so poor for so long, but most of it comes from our views on the environment and how we should be treating it. So here is a brief look at the life we live. We have about a 300 gallon cistern under the cabin we are renting. Until we get the rainwater collection set up we are relying on filling the water tank whenever it is empty. It takes us about 7-10 days to empty the cistern. Lets look at this critically. We have six people living in a household that uses 300 gallons of water in a week. We can run 3 loads of laundry, take about 2 showers each, 2 baths, and wash dishes every day. How can we do this in a time when most households use 100 gallons of water per person every day? Technically we should be refilling the cistern twice a day. We have changed the way we do things in order to conserve more water. i wash my dishes with a soapy dish towel before i rinse them off. The water is only on while i am rinsing. We take short showers. When the kids take a bath we use the same bath water. The washer uses less water than other washers. We also don’t wash our clothes after every single time we wear them (unless they need it, like diapers or underwear). I have some people who call me gross, I have some people who have stopped being friends with me after finding out how we use our water, and that’s fine. We have been conditioned over the years to believe that showering everyday, washing your clothes after every wash, etc, was more “sanitary” and that “normal people” do it. These things have actually been shown to not be better for us, or for the fabrics in our clothes, but we have been conditioned by those who benefit from the profits of us doing these things (shampoo companies, laundry detergent companies, etc). The one thing that I do is wash my face everyday and the places that i sweat a lot, but i do this with a washcloth. I don’t care what people think because this is the life I want to live.
We also spend about $200 on groceries every month, nothing is packaged, we have very little food that we waste and what is wasted gets fed to the dog or the chickens. We throw away 2 bags of trash a month, and hopefully soon we will be down to 1. Most of what people throw away is some sort of packaging, both food and non food. If you reduce the amount of packaging you buy you reduce the amount of trash you have. I feel much better about adding 1-2 bags of trash to a landfill every month than i did tossing 3-4 a week. We reduce the food waste too by only buying what we need. Yes, by the end of the 2 week pay period our fridge is looking very bare, but it should. I find if it doesn’t we tend to not eat certain things that end up going bad. This way we are forced to figure out how to incorporate these things into our meals, or just not buy them again for a while. Once our garden is up and running we also will be spending much less on food.
We conserve electricity too. We don’t keep appliances running during the day except the ones that have to (like the fridge). We almost never have the tv on. We also make sure to turn the lights off when we leave a room (or at least try to, our 10 year old is terrible at this). Although part of what helps is that we are almost never home. I find that we get cabin fever even if we are home for a few hours with so many of us in such a small space.
All in all our footprint on the environment is very low and we want it that way. We are always looking for more ways to cut back without compromising on our heath and well being. I have trained myself to stop and ask “what is the least wasteful way I can do this”. I recommend trying it sometime. It really does make you appreciative of the things you have.