The story so far

Stuff I’ve done lately. Renting an apartment sadly limits the amount of sensible infrastructure changes I might otherwise make.

— Baking soda + vinegar cleans everything! Vinegar keeps the ants out of the kitchen, and baking soda rub + vinegar rinse gets my hair all clean and shiny. I’ve mixed the vinegar with some natural perfume oil to make my shower smell slightly less salad-like. And it’s so much cheaper than the fancy organic shampoo! When I use up my soap, I may try this combo for the rest of me.

— Food. This apartment is inhabited by two people who love to cook, so we’ve been steadily going through our stock prepared foods and learning how to make them ourselves. Dumplings are surprisingly easy, and can be made in vast quantities and then frozen. Bread is wonderfully theraputic to make from scratch. Next on the list are vegan veggieburgers (neither of us is fond of cheese, and we haven’t found humanely-raised eggs yet). The local Hannaford has been really promoting its house organic brand and has started saying where the produce comes from. Using this, we’ve been trying to get local and/or organic stuff when we can. We’ve also discovered the natural foods co-op in Central Square, which sells EVERYTHING in bulk, including dish soap, local honey, and TVP for $2/lb. In just about a month, we’ll get the first share of the Community Supported Agriculture garden. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’m going to go help out with the planting and weeding.

— Toiletish things. One of those unmentionables. I’ve been trying to “mellow yellow”, and for some of the time rinsing rather than using toilet paper. That seemed like a little far even for me, but it’s actually a lot more comfortable. I’d love to get a composting toilet someday, but for the moment there’s two bottles of water in the tank to cut down on water use. I’ve used a Keeper for the past five years, so no feminine disposables for me. I may get some LunaPads from the Co-op to supplement that.

— Showers. We have a low-flow massage shower head sitting on the counter waiting for our landlord to install it (I should poke him again on Monday). That’ll give us a much more enjoyable shower while using dramatically less water.

— Traaaaaaaiiins. With my current job schedule, it’s hard to go from Boston to Philly or Rockville by train for a weekend and get much time actually spent where I’m going, but I’m trying. I just got a membership in Amtrak’s frequent-rider-rewards thing.

— Electricity. All the chargers, as well as the TV, are on power strips so that we can switch them off easily when they’re not in use. All the lights except the ones on a dimmer switch are CFLs (our electric bill dropped almost in half since when we installed them!)

— Job. I currently work as a secretary at Wentworth Institute of Technology. It’s a fine job. I’m bored sometimes because there’s not actually enough work for me to do, but that will be solved once I start classes, since I can do course reading at work. But it’s still an hour and a half commute, courtesy of the MBTA. Humans are just not meant to spend three hours a day in noisy little metal boxes. So I’m looking for a new job. I have an interview on Thursday somewhere where I could walk to work easily, and then I’d only have to commute for classes, which won’t be more than three times a week. Less impact on the environment, less impact on my sanity. I have been trying to make my faculty more environmentally aware. They’re rather amused by their secretary constantly leaving little notes telling them what to put in the recycle bin, and several now bring in their own coffee cups instead of using styrofoam. Whether or not I get a new job, I’m going to get ten mugs at the dollar store or thrift store and donate them to the department. That’ll cover all the really frequent coffee drinkers.

— Capitolism. I haven’t bought actually new clothes that weren’t socks and undies or commmorative T-shirts (and only a couple of those) in almost a year now. All my normal clothes now come from the thrift store. We bought a couch for Ben’s room from a wonderfully friendly woman on Craigslist (yay, community!) last week, and I’ve been generally trying to buy used when I can. Shiny eco-friendly organic fair trade cotton clothing costs far more than I can afford. But I can find silk pants and wool blazers and things from the thrift store practically unworn for a fraction of the price I’d pay in a real store, while helping a charitable cause and not causing new clothing to be made. I get books from the library whenever I can rather than buying them. I tend to be helped in the not-buying-things area by not wearing makeup or jewelry or caring in the slightest about fashion or most of those other typical female things. I do wear perfume from a natural perfume oil maker I’m fond of, but lately I’ve been using it mostly for vaguely ritual purposes rather than everyday wear so I’ll take next to forever to run out. My last major purchase was a new spinning wheel :-) It’s from a great old-world family company (Kromski) which uses wadded-up newspapers as packaging, seems to have good sustainable forestry practices, and while it’s in Poland, there really isn’t an actually local spinning wheel manufacturer in my area. And the wheel will almost certainly outlive my (as-yet-nonexistant) children. I have a bit of an oo-shiny-object problem, but the thought of my shiny new student loans kind of convinces me not to buy quite so many shiny things.

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