Wednesday, August 5

Catching Up

A very long hiatus, and I’m sorry. Starting with the NYC trip in March, my personal life started crying out for attention. I won’t go into those details, but I’ll kind of trace my current thoughts through the chronology. This may seem kind of scattered, but bear with me.

First of all, back in December, I applied to be a Language Assistant in France – basically, a native speaker of English who helps out a regular foreign language teacher. I didn’t know if I would get it or not, but I knew that if I didn’t get it, I wanted to build up Illinois residency so that I could go to grad school in Chicago. While I was in New York (and largely due to the personal stuff that started to loom), I decided that I would move to Illinois this summer regardless.

New York was amazing, and I did a pretty good job with limiting my waste. Klean Kanteens absolutely can go through airport security (I’ve done it many times); just make sure that you empty the contents! New York is not exactly an “eco-friendly” city (Boise, Portland, and Seattle are much better), but public transit and the emphasis on “local” (neighborhood) shopping is remarkable. Also, vegetarianism is much easier in a city, in my experience.

When I got back from New York, I moved. I had planned to spend the five months of my student teaching living back at home, but that was no longer a viable option. I moved to Albany, which is 12 miles from my school. This meant that I added commuting time, but I dealt with this as best I could. Sometimes, I carpooled. I was now able to walk to get groceries, etc, and “back home” was out in the countryside, so random errands either had to be combined with regular town travel, or else they were a huge inefficiency. The third way seems silly, but it’s totally practical – when I did have to drive, I’d tuck in behind a semi on the highway and the buffer would give me a whopping 50 MPG! So. There’s that.

While I was still in Oregon, I had to go through all of my family’s possessions that I’d inherited. By this point, I’d discovered that I was going to go to France (yay!) and decided that I wanted to go to grad school in Europe, too. That meant that I’d be gone for at least three years, and who knew what kind of future I’d be facing at that point. Whereas I started with a lot of furniture and an 8x8 room full of boxes, I donated and sold stuff until I was down to six boxes and my steamer trunk.

About this process: I cannot stress enough how important it is to donate your old things to charity, or to try to find someone who wants it. Some stuff may seem like trash to you, but there is a strange market out there. A lot of people want broken appliances to cannibalize, or torn clothing to re-envision. I wouldn’t suggest making a charity sort through it all, but if you can try to imagine a new future for your things, chances are, you’ll find one. For instance, if you some shirts of nice fabrics with spots or holes, why not bundle them together as a fabric bag instead of donating them as clothing? People sometimes only want small squares of fabric, and this would be perfect for them!

So, then in June, I moved to Illinois. I’m living with a friend for the summer, and then I’m going onward to France. I’d heard that there weren’t bulk bins in Illinois, and that had me worried, but I found a Co-Op pretty quickly, and there are a couple of bulk bins at the regular grocery store, too. We also have a good recycling program here and the town is pretty pedestrian-friendly.
I have been on hiatus for a long time, and I have been thinking about the purpose of this blog. There are plenty of blogs that cover practical aspects of day-to-day living in a more eco-friendly way, and I really feel like the market is saturated and I don’t need to cover the same ground.

This blog has philosophical roots, and I think that I will work more to bring out that philosophy. I can certainly work in concrete examples, but I am really interested in cultural mindsets. I think that that is what I will focus on.

Thanks for reading, more soon.

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