Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Resolution 2008: Be More Like My Mom

I remember writing last year about all the twist and turns my life took in 2006. As far as 2007 went, there isn't too much to report. Besides spending more than three months away from Deano which understandably left me a little changed there wasn't a specific "things will never be the same" moment. I see that as a good thing, because whether I'm ready or not, 2008 will be a big year for us. By this time next year, I will be a Ph.D. living in a different city. And almost everything else I can think of will be completely different.

I usually don't do New Year's Resolutions. But when I was in Minneapolis for Christmas, I came to a conclusion I'm guessing few 28-year-old women come to: I need to be more like my mother. Several months ago, my mom and stepdad vowed to change the way they live, giving up their favorite products and amenities in favor of environmental and social responsibility. First, they stopped drinking bottled water to reduce plastic bottle waste and instead began to bring large acrylic bottles filled with tap water to work. Then they took another step by refusing plastic bags at the grocery stores and bought several canvas bags. They bought bags both specific to the grocery stores they frequent and general ones for all other stores. This sounds pretty simple in theory, but in practice it proved difficult because many stores are firmly set in their ways and not very open to being handed a handful of canvas bags. But they stayed firm in their resolution and have not collected more than a few bags over the following months.

Lastly, they have done research mostly using the Better World Shopping Guide to find out which companies deal in fair trade, treat their employees well, minimize waste and pollution, give back to their local communities and don't participate in unnecessary animal testing. This required major changes from giving up favorite hair products (Biolage), snacks (Nabisco) , beer (Miller) and candy (Nestle) in favor of more conscientious brands. It is currently prohibitively expensive and time consuming to only buy from the top companies because they are generally all-natural, organic and the companies themselves extremely small and not widely distributed. But my mom and stepdad have vowed to keep all their products at "C" grade or above and always choose the better of two similar products.

This year, I am also vowing to cut out the worst offenders, buy more from the "good guys" and generally be more aware of the practices of businesses that want my money. The Better World Shopper likens such shopping to "voting with your checkbook". I'm not idealistic enough to think that I alone can make a difference, but my money is hard-earned and I should be more careful who gets it.

One more thing. I should mention that my mom and stepdad have always been environmentally aware. They have always driven fuel-efficient cars and are advocates for nature conservation in Northern Minnesota where they own a lake home. But, like the best of those among us, they felt that they could afford to put some time and money into bettering themselves and this year I am trying to do the same.


anne said...

Happy New Year! Sounds like an excellent plan and for all the right reasons too. We have always been conscience but there is just so much more out there you can do on a daily basis to help out.

Minnesotablue said...

Kudos to your Mom and Tom!! It does indeed take a lot of will power and determination and your Mom has always had both.

dr sardonicus said...

The little things do make a difference. Happy New Year.

mom said...

thanks honey for your support, you know how much that means to me, and thank you for helping to get the word out there. but most of all thank you for NOT being embarrassed while we were shopping this xmas season, i know you saw a few "eye rolls" from retailers, you could hardly have missed them.

fermicat said...

I'll be your mom is thrilled that you want to be more like her! Good luck making your resolution a reality.

I need those plastic bags from the grocery store, because that is how I dispose of the litterbox waste from my three kitties. We were running dangerously low over the holidays because we were eating out so much.

I do take things home from work to recycle, rather than throwing them in my trash there. Cans and bottles for sure, and some paper waste. I love curbside recycling!

fermicat said...

I'll BET, not I'll BE.

Sigh. I really should proofread these first.

magnetbabe said...

anne -
Happy New Year to you too! And I'll see you soon!

I agree. That must be where I get it from. ;)

dr s-
Ditto to you and Mrs. S!

I definitely was not embarrassed when that hot urban black guy at macy's approved of your mission and then complimented you on your Obama button. That was the moment I was converted!

I have 3 kitties and my mom has 6 (now counting Dixie!). Plastic bags for litter are definitely a concern for us as well. I don't know so much about your house, but Dean and I have a major surplus, and I'm thinking I could cut back at least by half and still do alright. Even reducing a little is better than not at all, IMHO.

Scott said...

My first reaction to this post when I read the title Be More Like My Mom was some variation of what a suck-up until I read on and found out what truly admirable people both your mom and stepdad are. If only more of us would be so committed. When I make more money, or when both my wife and I are working, I plan to get solar panels and take measures to reduce my oil dependencies. It takes a lot of money to invest however, and that's a big problem.

mom said...

i seem to remember the "hot urban black guy" incident a little differently. i don't think he approved of "my mission" until AFTER he saw the obama button, and i think he was gay... not that there's anything wrong with that. you were just missing your husband...

chloe said...

I would suggest less shopping in general. I've had this conversation with a number of my closest friends. #1, it's not our patriotic duty. #2, most of the goods we buy are produced overseas by underaged children in sweatshops. #3 The best way to reduce our carbon footprint is to buy less. Ultimately, buying things has never made me feel more deeply/spiritually content nor has it brought me closer to those that I love. Consumerism... it's not an easy habit to break, but it's definitely one of the things I am aiming for in 2008.