A couple of years ago, after the birth of my fourth child, I began to realize that our large family needed to change our consumption habits. The sheer volume and the type of waste leaving our home made me aware that we were consuming a large amount of processed foods and very few fresh and whole products. I made it my mission to change what our family was taking into our home.
As a reforming super-consumer, I at first found it foreign and quite frankly a bit intimidating to change my lifestyle. After all, wouldn’t the farmers and local producers judge me because I grew up eating antibiotic-fed beef? Wouldn’t they be able to tell just by looking at me that I didn’t compost? With great trepidation, I began to take baby steps towards making healthier and more sensible choices for my family and our community at large. With the bounty of farmers’ markets, and local cheese, egg, and vegetable producers in our area, the transition from grocery store to farm-fresh was made much easier. Living on the South Shore also gave us amazing access to fresh-caught, wild seafood. Everyone I encountered on my mission was friendly and helpful, and so enthusiastic!
Are you, like I was, interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle, but just don’t know where to begin? If you are interested in seeing the effect of your current lifestyle on our planet, you can check out your ecological footprint here: http://www.earthday.org/footprint-calculator. You can use this evaluation as a baseline for the sustainable living challenge I am about to propose.
I am challenging you, the sustainable living newcomer, to make some step-by-step changes that will, over time, yield a more sustainable lifestyle. I will introduce a new concept in each installment of my blog, and provide information on how you can actually make it happen in YOUR life. Come and take these “baby steps” along with other sustainable living newcomers, and send in your photos and stories to be documented here on the blog.
The first step in my challenge is simple, and it involves making a change in your shopping routine:
Buy local, seasonal foods. Luckily, we have many farmers’ markets on the South Shore. Here is a handy list of local farmer’s markets and their hours: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/southshore/edible-calendar/. Purchasing foods that are produced in your own community is great for the local economy, it promotes a feeling of community, and helps cut down on the use of fossil fuels for transport. There is always something great at the local farmers’ market. By purchasing seasonal fruits and vegetables, you can support your community farmers, and eat the freshest, healthiest, and least environmentally demanding foods (because they don’t have to be transported thousands of miles). The other great thing about buying seasonal fruits and vegetables is that they taste great and offer variety in your family’s diet!
Another effective way to purchase local is to simply look at your local grocery store. More and more these days, chain stores are aware of the increasing consumer demand for locally produced foods. If you have a choice of buying an apple grown in Carver, or an apple grown in Washington State, choose the local apple and vote with your dollars!! Even large grocery stores recognize this growing demand and will subsequently, over time, provide more locally produced products.
One more excellent resource for the local, seasonal consumer is the rich variety of seafood offered here on the South Shore. Take advantage of your proximity to the sea, and add more healthy fish to your diet. One fantastic resource for fresh, local seafood is the South Shore Seafood Exchange. You can learn more about how this non-profit organization supplies fresh seafood directly from fishermen to consumers here: http://www.sossexi.org/.
I hope these ideas will get you started on your journey to sustainability. Please share your thoughts, comments, photos and experiences with our community. It is truly an exciting time to be inspired and in turn inspire others to a healthier, happier, and more community-centered way of life. I can’t wait to hear from you!
Submitted by Bethany Bergin