Welcome to Old Recipe for a New World

IMG_9776IMG_9811

Thanks for dropping by.

The recipe we’re cooking these days is simple: less waste, more joy. Will it help to create a new world? At our house, maybe.

We’re gearing up (down?) for a four month fast from buying plastic. It’s a symbolic action, a way for us to live more in line with our principles. A show of solidarity with an increasingly troubled planet, if you will.

I’ll be posting our discoveries of how to get by in a post-plastic world (well, almost – we get to keep the plastic we already have, and cherish those bottles and baggies like they deserve to be cherished). Eventually I’ll be taking hard looks at the facts of consumption and waste, and sharing some of our reasons for making what amounts to a pretty big lifestyle change.

But know that the roots of this journal are planted in the soil of simplicity, wonder, and love. It’s a fertile ground, that. Already I’ve found much to celebrate in the handmade, the natural world, the kitchen, and the goat barn. As we close the doors on old patterns, they open to the surprising abundance of a life lived more carefully.

Commencing to Feast

IMG_0065IMG_0075

Speaking of abundance, we’ve signed up for a winter share with a local CSA, Beneficial Farms. This week, the first in November, we brought home hefty bags loaded with apples, kale, collards, onions, baby beets, scallions, salad greens, arugula, and persimmons.

While our decision to go plastic free is a very personal, symbolic action, joining a CSA offers immediate and significant results. Our carbon footprint from importing food from out of state/country is vastly reduced, while our money goes directly towards strengthening local food systems. It helps create the world we want to live in.

Seasonal food from within our foodshed. You bet it tastes better.

Psst. It’s cheaper, too.

The Unexpected Abundance of Going Without

IMG_9838

Here’s the deal: we’re quitting plastic.

Not forever. For four months. Starting January first, we will buy no new plastic. Nothing wrapped in plastic, nothing made of plastic. No new plastic.

At its core this semester-long experiment is a way for us to step outside our comfort zone, so rife with cop-outs like filling our eco totes with heavily packaged food. It’s a symbolic action, but one that feels necessary to take. We can’t realistically throw away the keys to our cars or turn out the lights. We can’t move to the country and live off the grid. But we can get by without plastic.

I think.

At first, I looked at the countdown to New Years Day as a doomsday march. However would we get by? I considered sneaking extra toothbrushes and packages of baby wipes into the shopping cart each week to build up a supply for desperate times.

But a funny thing happened. Once I started looking, I saw all around me how easy it was to not use plastic. The abundance was startling and intoxicating. I mean, have you ever really looked at what is available in the bulk food section of your local co-op? I hadn’t. Those hippies figured it out forty years ago. Where have I been? Trader Joe’s, apparently.

Transitioning to a plastic free life is a bit like preparing for a trip to a foreign country you’ve always wanted to visit. In my case that foreign country is The Olden Days. A land where I get to bake my family’s bread, milk goats, and churn butter. (Just kidding on that last one. If butter came wrapped in plastic I wouldn’t have agreed to this experiment.)

Of course, you don’t need to quit plastic to do any of these things. But it all fits together, this letting go of one thing and welcoming in of another. Our desire to reduce plastic to help the planet, or at least to do less harm to it in our daily lives, was the inspiration for this experiment. The potential it offers us to achieve long dormant dreams, to grow in unexpected ways, to claim our power as agents of change—these are the things that will carry it forward.

It’s still two months from our experiment’s start date, but we’ve already reduced our plastic consumption by more than half. Simply opening ourselves to the idea of making such a big change has changed us in big ways.

Feeding the Grandmothers

IMG_0039IMG_0020I didn’t learn to can food from my grandmothers. That knowledge came from books and mentors, was pulled from the great Out There where such wisdom resides, waiting for whomever comes looking. From these women I inherited my eyes and nose, a hefty dose of sentimentality, and faith in the unseen. When I think of the generations of grandmothers stretching back into time, it makes me a bit dizzy, as when I gaze up at the Milky Way and try to fathom how big the universe really is. Each ancestor in my lineage–and yours, too–faced unique challenges on both the personal and cultural level. Like us they found ways to celebrate, to love their families, and to forge onward. A few nights ago, when the moon was bright and fat through the apple branches, I put a serving of dinner out among the fallen leaves. I spooned a helping of apple sauce made from that very tree on top, and said a short prayer of thanks. It went like this:   Thank you, thank you, thank you for this good life we lead. May we use it well.

And so it Begins

After a week of winter it’s warm again. Bread rises on the counter. The baby sleeps.
Worry over what’s in store for the planet gives way to the pleasure of the moment:

this cup of tea, this drinking in of peace.

It began simply, slowly, this adventure in old fashioned living.
What seemed difficult and unnatural has proven just the opposite.

And so our efforts have grown. Just as our impact on the planet decreases.
Life grows simpler and simpler, as do our goals.
Less waste. More joy.
It’s an old recipe for a new world.

And we’re making it up as we go.