Going Enviro-Mental!

When I was a kid, I loved it whenever my mother would read Laura Ingall Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie to lull me to sleep. There was something deeply appealing to me about the simple life Laura’s family led that still intrigues me today.

I grew up in a household that frowned upon wasteful habits. I was trained at an early age to wash dishes military style with minimal water waste, to recycle, to reuse the gray water from both the bathtub and the washing machine, to hang dry my clothes, to eat leftovers in the fridge, to mend hand-me-downs, and to always turn lights off when you leave a room. I also distinctly remember my father chastising me for wasting toilet paper and showing me just how many squares of TP was acceptable in his household. As the youngest of three girls, I was accustomed to wearing the outgrown, castoff clothes of my two older sisters and finding exciting new additions to my wardrobe in the Salvation Army. Today, I still receive paper bags full of clothes from my older sisters and–now that I’m grown–I reciprocate with bags of clothes for them and for their children.

When I was dating my first serious boyfriend, our first fight was about him not recycling his milk jugs. Our second fight was about him wasting water while washing the dishes. The relationship wasn’t sustainable, just like all of his plastic dishes. In college, my roommates–who were just as broke as me–were fine lowering the temperature gauge, using power strips, unplugging the overworked coffeemaker, and joining me on runs to the used bookstore and thrift shops.

When I got my first job after college, I wasn’t able to afford organic produce, but I did expand my diet beyond pasta and frozen pizzas to include steamed artichokes and roasted broccoli. Then, when I bought my house, I discovered ReStore, or Candy Land for homeowners. I was able to find sinks, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and flooring that others had thankfully decided to not need in their own houses anymore. As a homeowner, my pioneering skills–sewing, gardening, carpentry, etc.–quickly came in handy. In addition to sewing new curtains for my six-foot tall windows, I used my grandfather’s skill saw, drill, and various other inherited and thrifted tools to fix up my house.

My house, a historical beauty built in the late 1800s, had fallen victim to time and was in desperate need of some updates. In the past three years, I have learned how to fix a leaky roof, how to build a chicken coop out of an old kitchen cabinet, how to build a fence, how to put in flooring, how to install a sliding barn door, how to tier my backyard to put in a vegetable garden, how to build a Free Little Library, and more. As my father says, “No more projects!”

I’m not that good of a listener. This blog is going to chronicle my projects; projects that lend themselves to a more environmentally friendly, sustainable lifestyle. Some weeks the projects I take on will be small ones like switching out my reusable plastic straws for stainless steel ones. Other weeks I will tackle bigger projects like assessing my toxic, fast fashion (a topic for another day) wardrobe and replacing most pieces with sustainable alternatives that will not only last longer, but won’t strain the environment with their production and come from companies that pay their workers fair wages.

While I have a full-time job teaching at a local University, I hope to take on a new challenge each week. If you don’t hear from me, it’s possible I’ve been sucked into an essay grading frenzy and will return shortly after being resuscitated with 72 hours of sleep and 169 gallons of coffee.

Thanks for joining me! Lets get Enviro-Mental!

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