Louder Than Words

This post is my contribution to the October APLS Blog Carnival, hosted by Kellie at Greenhab.

The theme for this month’s Affluent People Living Sustainably carnival is proselytizing green.  I’m pretty sick of the term “green” and prefer to use the term sustinable, since to me “green” means short-term trend and “sustainable” means long-term survival.  Anyway, I’m not a big lecturer, but I have found that people notice the actions I take in favor of the environment.  Here are some of the less obvious ways that I’ve opened the door to spread the word on sustainability.

Crank It Down! We keep the heat low around here in the chilly months.  Last year, we started to keep the heat set at about 50 when we weren’t home and 55 when we were.  We supplement with the wood stove, so the house’s temperature was probably closer to 60 when people visited.  To us, 60 feels warm now, but to most people, our house is quite cold.  In fact, when our families came to visit last week, my dad said he was tempted to give us $20 and ask for $20-worth of heat.  He laughed, since he knows we don’t keep the heat low to save money, but rather to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lower our carbon emissions.  Of course the money savings don’t hurt, either.  Instead of a seasonless indoor temperature of 72 degrees, we offer blankets in winter and open windows in the summer.  People take notice, and these are conversation starters.

Carry Your Own! I’m not just talking about the standby stainless steel water bottles and grocery bags, since those seem to have caught on.  I’m talking about other things that people will notice and think, Hey! Why didn’t I think of that!  I carry a pretty cloth napkin in my purse, and usually a fork and spoon (or a few that seem to collect in there).  That way, when I’m at work or on the go, I don’t need to use disposables.  I’ve also gotten into the habit of carrying my own containers for doggy bags.  When someone sees you pull out a glass or stainless container, it’s a wonderful chance to explain why you prefer not to accept that styrofoam box.

Wear It Out! I had to laugh the other day when I was exploring facebook.  I looked at a picture from five years ago, and happened to be wearing a denim jacket that I still wear, albeit with a little hole in the elbow now.  But why buy a new one?  My cell phone is 8 years old, and in perfect working order.  I carry the same old purse day to day.  Oh, and the rust on my car shows its age.  Again, when people ask why I don’t upgrade or buy a new car, I can explain that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. And certainly don’t buy a new one!

Make It From Scratch! When invited over to a friend’s house for dinner, bring a homemade pie, some home baked bread, tomatoes from your garden, or a jar of your home-canned jelly as a hostess gift.  Make someone a scarf or hat as a present, or cut a bouquet of flowers from your garden.  Not only are these gifts more thoughtful, they’re also great openers for a discussion of wasteful packaging and the value of making things on your own.

Say It With A Smile! Sometimes, I just can’t keep my mouth shut.  In those cases, I try to be polite and explain why, for example, doing a burnout is not in the best interest of the environment.  Or why I would prefer not to have a plastic bag.  Or why I don’t want my mom to buy me that sweater that she likes but I know I won’t wear.  I’ve found that when the message comes along with a laugh and a grin, people are much more understanding.

Don’t forget to check out all the APLS carnival posts!

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11 Comments

Filed under Home, Living from Scratch, Sustainable Living

11 Responses to Louder Than Words

  1. Nice list of examples. I too find that living sustainably carries a lot more weight than preaching and starts a lot of conversations.

  2. I agree whole-heartedly! It simply makes sense. Last night, my husband and I enjoyed a home-made dinner at the college where he works, instead of going out or having fast food. I brought a themos or ratatouille that I made and froze this summer, and a few other treats from our pantry. It was romantic, intimate, and wholesome. Zero waste. It’s just a matter of respecting our own world, and not buying in to media hype. We spent the evening at a non-profit musical venue (Godfrey Daniel’s Coffee House in Bethlehem, PA), then came home to our chilly house, loads of blankets and cats. Life can’t get much better than that.

  3. Great post! Thanks for participating in the APLS carnival this month!

  4. Thanks for all your hints, Abbie! You live what you believe in and that speaks volumes!!!

    P.S. I’ve learned a lot from you!

    P.P.S. No pretty sweaters for Christmas?

  5. I love your “say it with a smile” tip, :-) Sometimes it is frustrating to explain why I’m doing anything (that goes against the grain . . . like using my own bags at Target or another store where cloth bags aren’t necessarily all that common), but then again I realize people are curious too about different ways of doing things. I can relate to the bit about not wanting a relative to purchase an item you likely won’t use . . . we’re trying to figure out how to manage Christmas with the grandparents . . . so many toys, only so much space, and only so much gets played with.

  6. Rob

    Say it with a smile and some Cider Cinnamon Jelly- which is pretty good you know

  7. “Instead of a seasonless indoor temperature of 72 degrees, we offer blankets in winter and open windows in the summer.”

    Yes. I don’t like being hot or cold any more than anyone else does (especially cold, I grew up in a warmer climate than I’m in now) but it’s lovely to be able to feel the seasons. It’s much cozier to huddle down in the blankets than to crank the heat up for the whole room.

  8. The act of making things from scratch can also start conversations. I took my knitting into school today to work on while waiting to pick up my daughters. A bunch of kids ended up watching and asking questions about knitting, as did a couple of parents. It was a lot of fun!

  9. Oh I love this post!! My hubby is the shopper in the family but I don’t try and control what he does, we are different people. He has come a VERY long way and gives in to most of my eco ideas. He does at least donate everything he can. And is doing better about buying less.

    I hate spending money so it’s not a big deal to me to buy less. Anyway, great ideas!!

  10. These are great ideas – While I use cloth all the time at home, it never dawned on me that it’s just as easy to toss in a cloth napkin along with dishes in my lunch bag.

    And thanks for the inspiration on the heat! We’re at 65 now, which feels a little chilly but it’s just another excuse to cuddle! :)

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