Homesteading · Urban Homesteading

What Does Green Living Mean?

I have felt for many years that the words “Green Living” are bandied about way too easily. And recently I had a bit of a personal awareness, about both myself and others. And I didn’t like what I saw.

But what does “Green Living” mean to most people? And how deep do they take it and perform it?

A great explanation of it from Urban Dictionary is:

“Green living is a state of mind. If you are living green you are probably concerned about the environment, eating healthy, fair trade labor practices, buying local, and activism. People who are living green generally do a lot of research about topics which affect their health and/or health of others. If you are living green you are most likely making conscious choices about all aspects of your life and are eager to learn and share your experiences.”

Another great quote, from the EPA website:

“Green living means making sustainable choices about what we eat, how we travel, what we buy, and how we use and dispose of it. We can implement sustainability in our workplace practices, and by greening the buildings we inhabit. Our everyday choices can create a sustainable lifestyle.”

Pssstttt….. The Home Depot? That is so not “green living”.

Over the past few years I have come to realize that my concept of green living is in-depth compared to others. When we started urban farming, and urban homesteading, I realized there wasn’t any going back. Once you see how the changes you put in, that they do affect your life, it is eye-opening. This past year was the sharpest for me. Working the land, sweating through a summer that never relented. Wondering if we could produce more solar power, use our rain water more carefully. Obsessing over what went into the compost bin, the worm bin and what goes to yard waste. Passing the year mark of being free of a personal car. Weaning us off produce produced out of the US, out of season. To try to heal our youngest son, of his food allergies and gut issues, so many changes, my mind runs at night. Thinking of more things to change – it never stops. And that is good: it means we are trying to be sustainable.

It’s like my walking everywhere and hauling my Trolley Dolly….with a Starbucks cup in the pocket. I am plenty bad at it. And that is a big part: While I strive to be more green, I am a human and I don’t always make the best choices, especially if I am hungry/thirsty/tired. The big things are easier: How you live, what you drive, how large your garbage can is….the little things tend to trip one up.

I have also been a blogger, for a very long time. Some years I go to blogger conferences. It was good for networking, getting inspired and meeting companies. And the swag. Any blogger who says they don’t do swag is full of it and a liar. Bloggers love blogging conferences to haul home a suitcase full of free food, gear and more. I’d actually travel with zip top bags so I could seal items, for better packing. And oh the complaining if one felt the “swag bags” were less than they should be. (I’ve been to food conferences where literally I brought home 5 reusable shopping bags and a large suitcase full of product – from visiting the “gift suites” and coming back at the end to get a second round)

(Because nothing says sustainable like single use packaging)

This year I had been selected to be a volunteer at a green blogging/lifestyle conference that happens in winter, in a few months from now. And of course, it was flattering. I’d get a free ticket, and be around like-minded people. Three days of a vacation to spend with like minder people.

Well. Maybe.

At least I thought they were. Then I made the mistake of wandering into the conference’s private Facebook page and realizing that many of the attendees were urban and city living, who’s concept of green living was lifestyle, rather than a whole life change. Where buying organic meals from Whole Foods, and using natural glass cleaner made with essential oils is enough – while driving a 7 passenger SUV that gets 12 mpg.

I could have lived with that. Because that was us, only a few years ago. After all, we CAN change and often will adapt once we are exposed to better ideals.

Until they decided that having yoga classes with dwarf goats was a life goal. In a hotel. And they all laughed, as if this was a wonderful idea. To use animals for entertainment. I looked at our rabbit, who lives a pampered life, and couldn’t fathom how I could ever use her to entertain humans. I asked a good friend with goats who she adopted from a rescue, and she was mad. Mad that anyone would think it was OK to bring an animal into an area that would make them nervous and agitated.

And then with a very bitter taste in my mouth, I sat down and thought about the whole cost of going. No, not financial (granted that was pretty high on its own. Hotel for 3 nights and a flight to California adds up). But rather the term I loath: Carbon Footprint. But that is something you can’t get away from. Taking a trip for pleasure or business, is bad enough on its own…but to do this while attending a conference on green living? I just couldn’t get over that. It was too pricey for me to spend with my ethical wallet.

And that’s when I knew I was where I wanted to be. That being at home, farming and handcrafting body products, makes so much more sense for me, rather than traveling to consume. Maybe home is where I am meant to be, with my family, creating a sustainable life. I love the town we live in, where my green ways are seen as normal.

And my conscience is clear on the goats. And I really hope they don’t go through with it.