So, if I list the little things I’ve been doing to shift my pattern of consumption, does it add up to a hundred things? Only one way to find out. If I can reach 100, it’ll feel significant, and hopeful. And I may fret less about getting an electric car later versus right this minute. This will be like Dear Diary, dull perhaps. But I’m an average older citizen neither willing nor able to turn my life upside down like No Impact Man (fascinating stuff, though at If I can do 100 things, anyone can do 100 things. That’s my thought. (And I’ll be able to say so.)

List making has helped me before. Awhile ago, setting out to de-clutter, I took someone’s suggestion to set a goal of 50 things out the door. To make sure it was challenging, some boxes of things were counted as one thing. The list kept me amused, and at the end I felt accomplished (sometimes I am a very simple person). Best is the memory (aid). Since I still see a lot of stuff in our home and garage, it would be easy to forget when it was worse. I think of my 50-thing list and think, oh, yeah, that’s right, I did that.

Here goes, in no particular order, first fifteen:
1. Lipstick from Aveda. Sustainable sourcing of ingredients. An overall socially responsible cosmetics firm. Kicking the major brands habit made me feel great. Have you read The Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones? The carefully researched information is Very motivating.

2. Laundry detergent that’s biodegradable and doesn’t have a lot of chemicals and excess nutrients like phosphates.

3. Cold water washing, sometimes. A little more problematic now that we don’t have phosphates in our laundry detergent. But I also wash my hands and chef knife in cold to avoid running water down the sink waiting for warm.

4. So that’s another: saving not just hot water, but cold water, too. I capture the cold water that first comes out of the shower and use it for plants, rinsings, whatnot.

5. Re-usable grocery bags, natch.

6. Buying fewer new cottons due to the high amounts of pesticides they use. I substitute used clothing, hemp, and organic. But of course not all the time.

7. Less meat. At least one more meatless meal per week than a year ago. And smaller portions of meat for me individually. This really isn’t a little thing, but I want to count it for my list, even if it may not work for you. We all have different guts and I understand that some people can’t thrive on less meat.

8. Not toasting bread when it’s fresh. A silly little thing, but how much of my energy usage is habit? Morning break means toast. But my peanut butter and honey is just as good on bread as it is on toast.

9. Eco towel/sponges instead of paper towels were a bit of a hard sell, but I like them now, as long as I can keep a few paper towels for wiping grease off pans.

10. Handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues. Another hard sell. I credit my husband who was using them long before I would venture into this territory. I found that laundering his was not so icky as I thought, and we still keep our opt-out tissues for the times when we are just not willing enough.

11. Less photocopying because more things are saved electronically.

12. Returning copier ink cartridges for recycling.

13. Attending a neighborhood recycling information party. Amazing what I learned that got me adding more metals to my recycling. Unbeknownst to me, we have automated sorting of metals at the recycling center! And a tin coating can be stripped off a steel can. I didn’t know. Coated pickle jar lids and plastic-coated wire are not a problem. They do still appreciate it if we can take paper off cans—reduces the sludge they have to deal with.

14. The party must have been inspiring—the next day I took apart a broken pleated shade and dropped off the two metal rails downtown for recycling. (metals more than 24 inches long won’t go curbside). It’s good to feel lighter!

15. Less discarding of cooking fats and animal fats. Here’s perhaps where I’m following my own lights—I find myself going against the standard expert wisdom. Here’s my thought. A lot of grain, grass, sunshine, and water went into putting the fat on that bird or four-footed meat creature. Throwing it into a landfill because nutritionists are frantic to lower our obesity rates doesn’t make sense to me. And if we’re not sufficiently worried about our weight, they tell us we’ll die of heart disease if we eat animal fats. I’m sorry, chicken soup should have some chicken fat in it, if only out of respect for the chicken.

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