Canada is an amazing place to call home. We couldn’t be prouder to be Canadians, able to live our lives in relative freedom and comfort. We are blessed. But being blessed with such an amazing life also gives us a big responsibility. Just because we are free to live our lives how we please doesn’t mean we should squander what we have.
I personally don’t like the phrase “going green”. People tend to think that “going green” means you’re becoming an extremist or are paranoid about climate change. Gaby and I have opinions about these ideas, but that topic is better left for another post. Instead, I’d like to focus on a phrase that we can get behind.
We believe everyone should be responsible with the resources they have. Mindful of our tendencies towards consumerism and the waste it creates. Good stewards of the land and to be conscientious of how we live. Changing habits and lifestyles takes time, and to try and do everything all at once would be futile. Lasting change only happens when done slowly, bit by bit.
Our Stewardship and Accountability
We have three areas that we are focusing our efforts on. First, of course, is our family. We want to teach our children to be aware of the products we use and the foods we consume so they can live a healthy life. Second is our homestead, to make it as energy efficient and chemical-free as possible. Third is the community that we’re building. We want to model a lifestyle that appeals to others and write about what we’re learning, knowing that we’re gleaning wisdom from the group as well. And by letting you know what we’re trying to achieve, we are making ourselves accountable to you to help keep us on track.
Our Current Responsibilities – What We’re Working on Now
- Composting – We’ve been composting for just over a month. Its an incredibly easy thing to do, but also a habit we must foster. Just this last week I found myself diving into the garbage to retrieve some egg shells that should have gone in the compost container.
- Growing Our Own Food – There is something so satisfying about growing your own food – the taste and knowing where the food came from are two fantastic benefits. Our garden is still small this season, but next year it’s going to be impressive. Our goal is to grow at least 60% of our own produce, and hopefully bump that up to almost 100% once we build our year-round greenhouse.
- Reducing Plastic from Consumables – I’ve been obsessed with trying to eliminate plastic from consumable products in this house. Right now, we are either avoiding or recycling at least 95% of plastics from the products and foods we consume (like bags for shopping and produce, food products contained in plastic, as well as other things that we don’t eat, such as garbage bags and plastic wrapped items like toilet paper, detergents, soaps, and shampoos). The unfortunate part is that our local program doesn’t take a lot of these kinds of plastic. I am currently researching where we can drop off them off for recycling. Even better, though, would be to find the products we need that don’t use these plastics at all.
- Reducing Electricity – When we made our move to Manitoba, we bought a newer, energy efficient home. That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t room for improvement. Simple tasks that we can do and teach our kids as well, such as using LED lights and shutting them off when leaving a room, reducing water consumption when bathing and brushing teeth, and hanging our clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.
- Buying Used – A great way to recycle is to buy used items. Due to fashions going in and out of style so quickly, clothing is being cheaply made and most donated to thrift stores is ending up in landfills. I thought I was just being frugal when I was shopping at consignment stores, and I was happy to learn that I was also doing my part in recycling. When I do buy new, I try to pick classic, high quality pieces that will last a few years. Other items that we by used are vehicles (making sure the cars we buy well made and fuel efficient), furniture, toys, and more. My favorite places to shop are Once Upon a Child, VarageSale, Kijiji, and local Facebook auction groups.
- Chemical Free Cleaning – This is the newest item added to the list. Many cleaning products we use for our homes, bodies, and clothes contain harsh chemicals.
I love companies, such as Norwex, who’s mission statement is “Improving Quality of Life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes”. I’ve used a lot of their products in the past, and love how they work. It will be an expensive endeavor to switch from my current cleaning methods, but one I’m willing to undertake.
- Solar Panels – Manitoba Hydro has options for grants and loans to help offset the cost of buying solar panels. Once we’re ready to take that step, we will be looking further into these opportunities. Our goal would be to create enough power for our own needs and to also put electricity back into the grid.
- Water Cisterns – As discussed in our previous post, “Planning the Homestead”, our goal would be to collect enough water to meet all our outdoor needs.
- Food Forest – Those of you following us on Facebook know that we started our food forest this week with three honeyberry (Haskap) bushes. Our plan this year is to increase the amount of berry bushes on our property by also planting chokeberries and raspberries. The future will bring fruit trees such as apple and maybe pear.
- Greenhouse – The greenhouse is the biggest project on our list and will probably take the longest to complete due to the costs involved. Once built, however, we hope to meet almost 100% of our produce consumption year-round.
I know that our list isn’t exhaustive, and that there is much more that we could add. But, like I said in the beginning, trying to do everything at once is futile. Slowly but surely, we’re making lasting changes, becoming more responsible with our resources and better stewards of our land.
What are your thoughts? We’d love to know what you’re doing in your homes with your families. Leave us a comment or get in contact with us on the contact page to start the discussion.
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