We’re officially one month in to our six month consumer-free project as a family. I certainly can’t say we’re suffering. I’m still purchasing food (and for those who have asked, alcoholic beverages fit under the “food” category in my book) and gas for our two vehicles. I’ve also purchased various items to complete the cursed landscaping project (plants are good for the environment, so cut me some slack), and a backpack and lunchbox for our daughter who starts kindergarten in two weeks. We’re living comfortably in our air-conditioned, furnished home, occasionally entertaining friends and dining out (attempting to do so only once a week). For the most part, consumer-free living at the Kersh home ain’t so bad.
A few unforeseen events have lead to thoughts of cheating. Like the fact that our tiny-footed daughter all of a sudden outgrew all of her shoes. I’m trying to be reasonable and purchase second hand shoes or hope for hand-me-downs, but a grandma-financed trip to Nordstroms may be in her future. And speaking of grandma, my mother made it known from the start that she was in no way participating in this non-shopping extravaganza, and has purchased several clothing items for our kids. I can’t fault her for this. She once told me I was taking her joy away when I asked her not to purchase curtains for the bare windows in our dining room, so I’ve decided to leave well enough alone.
Originally, I had a number of questions about the impact this would have:
Q: Will we save money?
A: Not yet due to high gas prices and purchases for yard project
Q: Will we create less garbage?
A: Perhaps a little less. I’m now motivated to be more diligent with recycling–particularly mixed paper. I have to drive it to the local Orange County Recycling pickup, but given the volume, it seems worth the trip
Q: Will the kids learn from this experiment?
A: 2 year old has no clue. 5 year old is already talking about Christmas and continues to read catalogs like the Bible. I don’t think any great life lessons have sunk in yet.
I have made a few interesting observations. Overall, I spend more time everyday thinking about my personal impact on the environment. Given my obsessive tendencies, this could be a good thing, or push me over the edge. These thoughts don’t always lead to better decisions, but at least the environment is on my radar screen. I also feel that as a family, we’re spending more time together doing activities rather than acquiring stuff. A trip to Target or the mall used to be late afternoon entertainment for me and the kids. Now I’m more likely to take them for a walk or to the pool.
Is our life simpler after 30 days of trying to live with less? Not really. But we’re thinking a bit more, and trying to do our part, no matter how small. Keep tuning in. Many temptations lie ahead (fall clothing catalogs, a party we’re hosting in September, Halloween, Christmas…). And there’s always that new issue of Dwell to look forward to.