I Can Always Do More – An Earth Day Reflection

Many of us live in the I Can Always Do More reality.  Well, this past Monday evening, Joelle and I heard a speaker that may have come the closest I have seen to pulling herself out of this reality by simply maximizing her sustainable efforts every moment of every day.  Even though I’m sure she would say she can still do more! The speaker; Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home.

 

The event took place at the Shedd Aquarium, who we were very enthusiastic to find is taking sustainability, and teaching others about sustainability, very seriously right here in Chicago.  They partnered with Zero Waste Chicago, which is the local chapter of the movement Bea’s book and efforts have triggered worldwide.  

 

The theme of her presentation and of her book, Zero Waste Home, is simple; reduce your waste, and therefore your environmental impact, to as close to zero as possible.  In Bea’s case, her entire family of four produces enough trash to fill a small glass jar in not a week… not a month… but an entire year! She even brought her 2017 glass jar of trash to prove it.  

 

The 5 R’s Bea abides by are not new – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot – but the way she employs them are profound.  By way of example, each time she travels she packs her entire wardrobe into a single carry on bag… that’s literally every article of clothing she owns.  Her family buys a locally made wooden toothbrush, which goes into the compost when it’s time for a new one… except for the bristles which they pluck out and add to the glass trash jar since they are not a natural material.  She only buys food in bulk or from local markets that she can place in reusable bags or fill in her own glass jars – she even has a sweet Bulk Finder tool on her website!  And pretty much any cosmetic, toiletry, or cleaning product is homemade from natural ingredients – which she also has wealth of resources about on her Blog.

 

The lifestyle choices and overall impact Bea and her family choose to make daily were inspiring to hear, and left me mulling a few thoughts this week heading into Earth Day:

 

  1. The Spectrum of Sustainability is Broad.  The road to sustainability for Joelle and I started with food and nutrition.  The road has since split into many other focuses of sustainability of which many are shared with Bea including minimalism, toxic free living, and composting.  Bea started with zero waste, and through it, also came to see the value of the local food system and nutrition. Sustainability as a concept is vast with many uncharted territories.  Each entry point, motivation, and step along the way is a cause worth celebrating!
  2. Zero Waste Needs to be Learned.  It struck me as fascinating that our culture’s current reality – filling up giant bins with trash every week – is so normal and accepted, and Bea’s methods are so foreign and unfamiliar.  In essence, throwing away absurd amounts of trash needs to be Un-Learned, and Zero Waste needs to be Learned. Bea even took a comical approach to this saying things like, “Oh, but we all dream of a world filled with plastic for our kids to grow up in, right?”  Humorous… but oh so true! Trash is the norm and our current trajectory is literally a world filled with plastic. There is a very finite amount of time we can get by with paying someone to haul it away for us so we never have to think about it again, before it catches up to us to have major impacts on the health of all things that depend on the water, soil, air, and sun for life.  Many would argue it already has!
  3. Sustainability is happening in Chicago!  This was a sold out, free event at the Shedd Aquarium that I would say had 150-200 people in attendance.  An expo was held beforehand with tables of many local sustainably minded companies and initiatives with the likes of reusable products, composting programs, local food production and a bunch more.  We were also encouraged to hear from interacting with a Shedd employee that this event was just one of many conservation and sustainability efforts hosted by Shedd that engages and educates the Chicagoland community.  You could feel the enthusiasm, comradery, and advocacy of each person there. They have more similar events on the dockett, so stay tuned!
  4. I Can Always Do More.  That’s right – WE can always do more!  I’m guessing when Bea started out, a single glass jar of trash after an entire year seemed like an impossible feat.  But now, it’s common practice for her family and a glass jar gets added every year. Earth day reminds us that our planet is worth fighting for… yes, even worth sacrificing for in our daily lives.  As Bea put it, Living with LESS = Living MORE. And doing MORE, even a seemingly small choice today, can add up to big impacts for our planet.

 

This Earth Day, what is your MORE?  And doing MORE, in the words of Bea, often means living with LESS!  Where is there unnecessary abundance in your life? What streams of waste do you see that can be avoided?  What do you consume that is overly convenient or disposable that you can take a different approach to? Bea’s book or website would be a great place to start for inspiration in how to go about making these choices.  Small choices become big habits. In light of Earth Day, I challenge all of us to begin applying a filter of sustainability to our daily choices.  Where do our daily lifestyle choices harm, not help, the cause? We all have a long list to improve on, and together we can choose to DO MORE, and LIVE MORE.

Time

This post is the second of 3 emails we were asked to write for the Wellness Warriors Lifestyle Boot Camp offered by Dr. Jamie Thomure of DuPage Family Wellness.  Dr. Jamie first launched a Nutrition Boot Camp in 2017 which Joelle and I have both participated in and seen the benefits!  The Wellness Warriors Lifestyle Boot Camp was recently launched to go beyond nutrition into everyday healthy lifestyle choices.  We highly recommend checking out these Boot Camp’s along with the many other services being offered at DuPage Family Wellness!


Wellness Warriors Part 2:  Time Management

 

I heard an alarming statistic recently.  I’m not going to tell you what it is just yet.  You’ll have to read to the end. But it has to do with time!  The thing about time is, we all have it, and therefore are responsible to manage it.  Every waking moment, or non-waking, can be used productively, efficiently, and moving you toward your goals.  Or, it can do the exact opposite. Each day, each moment, you choose. So, how do you choose wisely?

 

Read More

Minimal

This post is the first of 3 emails we were asked to write for the Wellness Warriors Lifestyle Boot Camp offered by Dr. Jamie Thomure of DuPage Family Wellness.  Dr. Jamie first launched a Nutrition Boot Camp in 2017 which Joelle and I have both participated in and seen the benefits!  The Wellness Warriors Lifestyle Boot Camp was recently launched to go beyond nutrition into everyday healthy lifestyle choices.  We highly recommend checking out these Boot Camp’s along with the many other services being offered at DuPage Family Wellness!

Read More

Dollars Equal Support

Dollars = Support

I’ve been fighting it all day – the feeling that I need to be out there shopping today.  Black Friday.  To boot, I’ve hardly even scoured the ads, so not only am I not there in the thick of it, I don’t even know the potential deals I am missing out on.  Can anyone relate to feeling that today is just too big a day to miss out on?

Read More

Where we’ve been, are now, and are going…

Where we’ve been, are now, and are going…

Where we’ve been?

We’ve taken a much longer break than we anticipated from contributing to this site… and are ok with it.  Seasons ebb and flow, life changes, speeds up and slows down.  So, we thought we’d give you a little insight into what’s been going on and where we are headed.

Fall has finally begun to settle in and our bodies are feeling ready to move into this next season of shorter days and new focuses.  Our summer has been interesting and different for us, but also exactly what we wanted to pursue.  The two most shaping occurrences were hosting a young girl through Safe Families and expanding our backyard micro farm.

Read More

5 Reasons To Buy Food Locally

5 Reasons to Buy Food Locally


We are just approaching that wonderful time when for the next several months locally grown food will be in abundance.  During this time of year, we make it our goal to source as much of our food locally as possible.  There are so many reasons why we do this but here’s our top 5:

Read More

Beginners Guide to Composting in the Suburbs

Beginners Guide to Composting in the Suburbs

Composting has gained a lot of ground in recent years.  Here in the West Suburbs of Chicago, Joelle recently attended a free composting seminar and we’ve even heard of community composting initiatives.  In it’s infancy of stardom, composting still comes in well behind more popular gardening trends like fertilizer, whether organic or chemical.  Few use compost and fewer yet have an idea of what it is or how it is made.  Until a couple years ago, I would be the lowest up the totem pole in that category!  

Joelle recently asked me what the difference was between fertilizer and compost.  Never having given much thought to the matter, I pondered for a moment and a familiar analogy came to mind.  I likened fertilizer to that of a supplement.  Often times we take vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc. to supplement our regular diet.  Fertilizer, likewise, is a supplement to the health and vitality of the soil.  Compost, on the other hand I likened to a complete, well balanced, fully fortified and nutritious meal.  Compost, from my experience, offers the full support system for any living plant to grow in and thrive.

Read More

A Heritage That Must Endure

A Heritage That Must Endure

Over the past month of two, we have logged quite a few hours either in our own garden or volunteering on local farms.  My experience has been this; that there is almost nothing more pure and noble than working the soil and being connected to it.  Whether it’s the sweet smell of freshly churned compost, holding a fresh seedling in my hand that’s about to be planted and take root, pulling weeds to focus energy on productive plants, plucking a fresh worm to feed to our chickens, or just standing back and looking at how much life is sustained by such a simple process, there is little I have found more delight in than gardening, farming, or anything in between.

Read More

Cedar Plank Marinated Trout

Cedar Plank Marinated Trout

It was a delicious weekend of eating at our house and this trout was one of the highlights.  We’ve had it in restaurants but this was our first time cooking fish on a cedar plank and we anticipate it being repeated often in the future!   Not only did this method of cooking give the fish that smokey flavor but it was super simple as well.  

To prepare your plank for cooking you’ll want to soak it for a least one but preferably 3-4 hours.  After you get the plank soaking, this is a good time to get your fish marinating.  We used trout but this recipe would be great for any fish that you would want to plank.

Read More

Strawberry Rhubarb Granola Crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb Granola Crisp

Tis the season when strawberries and rhubarb abound in gardens and farmers markets!  These late spring/early summer crops pair together perfectly with the sweetness of the strawberry offsetting the tartness of the rhubarb.  Rhubarb has always intimidated me, but this year I am determined to harvest and incorporate everything we can from our garden into our meals.  I’m so glad I did because rhubarb is super easy to harvest and prepare and this crisp turned out amazing.  In fact, Jim complimented that it was one of the best things he’s ever had!  I’ll link to the homemade granola recipe that we make and used for this but any granola should work.  Enjoy!

Read More
Page 1 of 41234