April 30, 2014
I have always had a deep love of nature. Essentially a Colorado native, I grew up daydreaming in the fields of my elementary school smelling grass and playing with dandelions (turning our skin yellow when they were yellow and making wishes when they were grey and puffy). My family and I also frequently went to the mountains to our tiny cabin on 3/4 of an acre. We would hike and collect and smell the fresh air. We would pick wild raspberries and eat them, right off the cane. We would use the outhouse which involved walking up rickety steps my dad had nailed right into the side of the hill. Mostly, I remember having the space to enjoy nature.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to enjoy gardening. The most exciting presents arrive daily throughout the spring and summer.
Additionally, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to notice trends that make me sad. When I was younger, in winter, we would witness the “Brown Cloud” over the downtown buildings of Denver. The air pollution would hover just over the buildings. Now, that “Brown Cloud” stretches from Colorado Springs to Boulder…and I can SEE it with my own eyes – in my lifetime! So, we’re talking thirty years. I see litter. I see waste. I see people throwing recyclable and reusable items in the garbage rather than the recycle bins – the city now provides roll-away recycle bins and the recycling is single stream. I see recycling containers in restaurants and parks and the zoo. Upon closer investigation, items that are not recyclable are in the recycling and items that are recyclable are in the garbage. I see that brown cloud. I see the increase in traffic and water usage. I see harmful chemicals being sprayed on plants, trees and grasses.
But, I have hope. Because we used to have to take our recycling to a facility. We used to have to separate our items. We used to do a lot more work. Slowly, it’s getting better and easier. Perhaps one day, recycling will truly be single stream and we won’t even have to separate garbage from recycling. Perhaps we will teach ourselves to reuse rather than recycle in the first place. Perhaps we won’t feel as though we need so much stuff.
I get that it’s a pain to have to do any of it. It’s so much easier to throw things away. But, I can tell you, these days, with all the catastrophes happening in the world, it feels GREAT to do SOMETHING to make a difference for the better. That’s where I come in. Follow me on my journey to attempt to achieve a more sustainable household. We live in the city, so we most likely will not have cows grazing in our backyard. We won’t have enough crops in our garden to feed our entire family for the entire year. But, we will continue to try to decrease our carbon footprint, increase our handprint and increase our overall resiliency.
The concept behind Sustainable Three is simple: Choose three habits to change at a time. Or, do three things once each until they start to form a habit. Be gentle with yourself. But, be optimistic. If nothing else, these three steps should help you “get the ‘should’ off your back.”