Thursday, 23 April 2015

Happy Earth Day!

Or our year without a car...

So, yesterday it was Earth Day, April 22, 2015. For something that's been around for 45 years, I do feel a little silly that this is really the first time I've really taken notice of it. The earth-child in me is hanging her head in shame... but only a little, because I do try to tread lightly on the planet of ours. Michael does too, and we're teaching Jimmy to do so, as much as we can.

We do the 3 R's: reduce; reuse; recycle. We do our best to minimise waste, both food and packaging (although some days I feel like I fail at this, especially when I forget our greensacks and only notice when we get to Dillons). We keep our consumption of animal protein to a minimum, eating a little most days, unless you include dairy... we like our milk and cheese... We managed to go through the whole winter with minimal heating, running the heating at 19.4 C (or 67 F) but next winter we might aim for something closer to 18 C (or 64 F). And our limited funds, and short-term situation, keep us from consuming a lot of 'stuff', which really helps with the feeling of treading lightly on the Earth, even if we don't feel light-hearted.

But the biggest thing that we do, the biggest thing we decided to do when we arrived here?

We decided not to buy a car. That's right. It seems crazy not to own a car, especially in the USA, but we are mostly happy with our decision.

(We do own a car, but it's in Australia, and from what I can gather it is probably only used a few times a week - I could be wrong.)

But when we were taking in all the costs of moving to Manhattan, KS, and our living costs vs income, Michael and I decided that we would try to go without a car.

And for the most part, we have managed without one, even though this town (and most of the USA) is not pedestrian friendly. We get funny looks sometimes, especially from people who have never seen anyone babywearing. We've walked to and from Dillons on really hot days, and really cold days too. Jimmy and I have stayed at home because the weather was not pedestrian friendly. We've come home drenched, sweaty, sore, or very cold. We've waited for the bus when the weather was not pleasant and we've walked to our intended destination in unfavourable conditions because we missed the bus, sometimes by a minute or two. We're still here.

But we haven't avoided cars completely. We have hired cars, four all up over the course of the last year. We have traveled in friends' cars, and we would be incredibly antisocial if we didn't. And there have even been moments when I wished we had one, usually when we've just missed the bus or have no milk and it's raining/snowing/freezing outside.

From an environmental viewpoint, not buying a car here has hopefully gone some way in offsetting our flights to get here. And when we do go anywhere by car, it's usually in someone elses' car, increasing the number of people in that car.

From a personal viewpoint, not buying car has saved us a few car-ownership headaches and given me lots of time really, really close to Jimmy. I have also lost weight I had been wanting to lose for a while, since before falling pregnant with Jimmy.

Not owning a car has limited how often we have been able to travel, but we have been able to explore Manhattan, KS, on foot and have seen a good amount of the town. Not owning a car has helped us come in contact with some of the local characters and connect with locals who are happy to share their local knowledge. Not owning a car gets us outside, having little adventures, and looking at animals and plants that might otherwise be overlooked.

We are unlikely to buy a car for the coming year, because we still have limited funds and we would have to deal with the whole getting rid of the car process, which we found stressful (and costly) in Samoa. Having one less thing to get rid of when we leave is actually a good thing, and really it was probably the main motivator in not buying a car this time last year. But we were also thinking about our environmental footprint...

Happy Earth Day!

More Earth Day stuff:

Celebrate Earth Day Everyday
Why more stuff does not equal more happiness
Earth Day Top 5

(Edit: I realized the irony of putting up a link to a shop as I was going to sleep (Earth Day Top 5 links to post on Kaufmann Mercantile), but they sell beautiful, well made things that I would buy if we could afford them or if we were staying for longer or if we had some certainty about where we are going after our time in Manhattan, KS, and I knew that the investment was worth it. They do not sponsor this blog, although that would be nice and welcome, but they stand for quality, and I prefer to spend a little more on something that will last a long time, instead of buying something cheap that will need to be replaced on a regular basis.)

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