kayjayoh: (find x)
[personal profile] kayjayoh
I've been giving a lot of thought lately to how I want to live. My ideal would be to leave a small carbon footprint, support small and local business and good environmental and labor practices, keep myself in good health, and be economically responsible. What I need to determine is my level of commitment as my ideals come up against the realities of convenience and cost.

I have been living without a car since Christmas out necessity. Can't afford to get new tires, can't drive with what I have. As a result, my carbon footprint has been greatly reduced and my cost for a 31-day bus pass is much smaller than a month's worth of gas. However, getting through the winter without a car was difficult. Walking to the grocery store and the bus stops in the bitter cold, over ice and snow and poorly shoveled walks was a trial, and there were many times I stayed home rather than face the challenge. Even now that the weather is mild and the sidewalks are clear, not having a car limits where I can go and when.

There are plenty of places I can't get to by bus (like Sun Prairie), and many times that the buses don't run (like after midnight--earlier on weekends). I've been depending on the kindness of friends and family to give me rides much of the time, sometimes going out of their way to get to my home. As much as I think about continuing to live without a car once I can afford to get it fixed, I don't know if I would. I don't know that I would be able to come to terms with selling it right now, and once it was in working order would I be able to keep myself from using it all the time? It might be easier of I lived closer to the transfer point, to a Community Car location, or to downtown in general, but I'm going to work with what I've got and where I am for now.

Besides the transportation issue, I also think about the food I buy and eat. I try to stay aways from the processed food and stick with the outside ring of the store, but I'm not perfect about that. I know I need to eat way more green vegetables than I do. The next question is: What about buying local, sustainable/organic produce, dairy, and meat? Can I do that? I like the idea, but can I get past the expense? It's already tricky to buy groceries for one, and my budget is wee.

I may be able to do it with meat. It would certainly make it more expensive, but given how rarely I buy meat in my groceries it probably wouldn't pinch much. Fruit and vegetables are easy to come by locally at this time of year, but what of the winter? Do I stay local or buy the Texas styrofoam strip-mined tomatoes? The really hard part is the dairy. I only buy small amounts of milk at a time, so buying from a local farm would be more expensive but maybe still reasonable. But what about cheese and butter? Considering how much of my diet seems to be made up of bread and cheese, could I afford to buy local for that as well?

I know there are people who have less money than I am who are able to make the local, sustainable, green lifestyle work. I read about them in the Isthmus each week. I also know that it involves a lot of choices and a certain amount of sacrifice. Do I have what it takes? I guess am willing to try, even if I fail.

June 2008

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