When I turned 20, I looked at all the things I used to believe as a kid and thought I was quite juvenile back then. When I turned 30, I looked at the past decade and realised I still had a long way to go. Now I'm half way towards reaching my 40's, and I'm still astounded by how many past truths I've overturned in favour of understanding more.
Let me give a few examples...
I wanted to be more "green" in my lifestyle choices, but found a lot of contradictions instead. I started using the eco feature on my dishwasher, so I'd use less electricity heating the water. What the cold water did though was not clean the dishes properly. I was having to re-do several items again.
What this showed me, was that in order to save electricity I had to use more water to rinse the dishes before they went into the dishwasher. As I'm on tank water requiring a pump too, I'm using that dredded electricity again. The most ecological way of cleaning dishes it seems, could be to do them by hand - but this in turn, discourages me from cooking. Less cooking means purchasing more convenience foods - the cycle is relentless.
So what have I learned? Well my daughter attends school, my husband attends work and I attend to the self-sufficient balance I'm trying to get right at home. When I look at "green" options on their own, they really do look quite appealing - and I give them a go to see what it's all about. Evidently though, I find in this modern life we have to compromise with green living. It's simply not possible to live carbon neutral.
I know there are some great stratagies out there to reduce our impact on the earth, and we should seriously look at them all. But if we really sat down and calculated all our activities (even using the pen and paper to write everything down on) we'd find a carbon footprint we've missed. I'm getting the feeling I'm chasing a ghost, which just keeps getting bigger and scarier the more I try and neutralise it.
This isn't a message to give up though. I'm realising that I have to be more realistic. I don't live in a society which affords me the luxury to be completely self-sufficient. With other family members spending time outside the home, I can't possibly do it ALL by myself.
I've learned this lesson with building chicken coops as well. There's only so much I can do as one person. When I have to wait for my husband to have time off work to help with the heavier stuff, it puts the schedule back more - which puts other projects back further. It's not a reason to give up though - just being more realistic. The longer things take, the further away our self-sufficient lifestyle will be. The math is there, I can't keep ignoring it.
So on the whole I think I've gotten my head around my aspirations a little better. I'm attempting to be "greener" but I'm not being so ideological about it either. Every step I take towards being more self-sufficient, realistically has it's own price tag. I won't realise how much though until I take the plunge and try it out. My cheap veggies have certainly cost an arm and a leg with materials to build the beds, buying the seeds, additives like manures, mulch and don't forget the indispensible garden tools - shade houses, etc.
I guess I've realised too that starting from scratch isn't cheap. It DOES cost money and it DOES use resources and create a carbon footprint of it's very own. Even as I'm typing this in my blog, I'm using electricity...and the server holding all the blogs in the world are using more electricity too.
These prospects aren't as depressing as they first sound though. Perhaps we've beaten up a lifestyle blueprint that just doesn't add up in the real world. We WILL leave a carbon footprint, so how can we minimise it on a continual and realistic basis? We WILL have to part with a lot more money for our greener lifestyle choices too. And most importantly will WILL have to juggle time and resources which are available to us. This is the real world our choices effect.
I don't know about anyone else, but I'm certainly happier accepting what I have. It may not be the perfect model to subscribe to - but given a chance, it's improving with every decade. I wonder what I will wonder at 40...or even 60!
That could potentially be a scary thought!