The Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons (Voyageur Press, 2016), by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff is a collection of helpful information and advice to living a self-sufficient lifestyle. The book provides fun and practical ideas on topics such as raising animals, canning, making compost, and more! The following excerpt is from Chapter 2, "Spring."
You can buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS STORE: Mother Earth News Almanac
You know, one of the nicest things about sustainable living is the fact that we can all get in on it. Every day, everyone — from grade-school child to retired grandpa — darn well can contribute something meaningful toward preserving our planet's priceless natural environment.
That's an important thought to consider, by the way, as all too often we let ourselves be bamboozled into believing that the so-called "action" is taking place somewhere else. This is not true at all. When it comes to the environment, we are the action.
Every decision you make today — whether you'll drive the car instead of walk; or burn the newspaper rather than recycle it; or throw away the garbage instead of starting a compost pile — directly affects the environment of your neighborhood, your town, your nation, and your planet. Not just now, but from this point on. That's a big responsibility.
Sure, sure...it may seem small and unimportant to turn off the lights every time you're the last one out of a room, but there's more than 300 million people living in this country now. If each one of us turns out the lights that aren't being used, well, that figures out to a lot of hydroelectric power, nuclear generators, and strip mining of coal that we won't have to worry about every year. And that is a very good thing for the planet.
Of course, there's another side to this coin that's just as important: It's the fact that if everyone in your family DOES keep all the lights and appliances firmly switched OFF when they're not in use, you're going to be pleasantly surprised right in the pocketbook when your next electric bill comes around. Because its going to be a couple more dollars less than it otherwise would have been.
Green living, then, doesn't cost — it PAYS...both in the short and the long run. That's a powerful idea and you can put it to work right now, a hundred times a day. Consider your transportation, for example: If you MUST drive a car, you can drastically lessen its impact on the environment by combining errands whenever possible. One trip is better than three, in other words. Leaving the gas guzzler at home and using public transit, of course, is better yet. And walking or riding a bike, whenever possible, is best of all. That last idea — by the way — simultaneously cuts air pollution, leaves more dollars in your pocket, and solves the infuriating problem of finding a parking space!
It takes twelve trees to make one ton of paper, and every family in America squanders several tons of that commodity each year. You can help reverse the trend and — again — cut your living expenses by substituting a rag or sponge in the kitchen and cloth handkerchiefs and napkins for paper tissues and towels. Recycle and share with friends the magazines and newspapers you do read and cancel your subscriptions to those you don't. When you go shopping, refuse all plastic sacks and extra wrappings that you don't really need but save and reuse the ones you do carry home — or bring your own recyclable bags.
You'll find that you both consume and pollute less if you buy clothes and shoes of better quality, and then take care of them so they last longer. Forget the insane fashion trends. Buy what YOU like and then live with it long enough to really enjoy it. Life is much more satisfying that way and your clothes will actually cost you a lot less.
The idea, of course, is that nobody's asking you to scrimp and suffer in the name of the environment. On the contrary: By consuming thoughtfully and conscientiously, instead of blindly and wastefully — you can both take a little pressure off the planet AND noticeably raise your standard of living. The air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat will be less polluted; your surroundings will be more pleasant; and you'll spend fewer dollars in the process.
Sustainable living doesn't cost — it PAYS.
Buy this book from our store: Mother Earth News Almanac
Excerpted from Mother Earth News Almanac (Voyageur Press, 2016) by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff, used with permission from Voyageur Press, 2016. Original text and illustrations © Ogden Publications.