Three years ago we were demoralized over our lack of progress at paying down debt. Then we started working with a counselor who challenged us to be as radical as we could be about cutting our expenses. She told us to put everything on the table: cold showers … no cell phone … bike to work. How far could we go?
Well, we couldn’t go quite as far as her, but we discovered that taking on the challenge of drastic, time-limited change gave us a rush of energy that allowed us to tackle even more change. One of the things we joyfully discovered was that as we cut our expenses, we also became more green.
- That first year we entitled “The Year of Living Radically Thrifty and Green.” Among other things, we became a one-car family. We paid off about $17,000 in debt.
- The next year we entitled “A Thousand Things,” setting a goal of removing 1,000 things from our home and garage. Things cost more than just the purchase price. You’ve got to store them, clean them, repair them and replace them. We decided that if we owned it, we’d better really love it. If not, set it free. We got rid of more than 1,079 things by year’s end, and another $10,000 in debt.
- Last year we didn’t have a clear theme, backslid on some efforts, and didn’t accomplish as much, though we did say goodbye to one child’s college loans and continued to make progress on paying down other debt.
We needed more focus so we’ve started this blog and we’ve gotten involved in a neighborhood sustainability/transition group. Our intent is to write once a week about what we are learning in the group and in our own research and practice. Each month we will undertake a mini-challenge to see what we can do to decrease our energy use and environmental impact. We’ll report on what we’ve learned and what we think we need to do to maintain that positive change.
Doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 50, it’s hard to change. Doing something very different from what you’ve done before is difficult, especially if it’s in response to something as amorphous as climate change and the inevitable economic change that will occur as a result of the end of cheap oil.
It’s easier to go on as usual. In fact, that’s exactly what our national leaders ARE doing – denying the need for change and denying that there are and will continue to be painful consequences from our past actions.
We prefer to face reality, as difficult as that may be. The best part of it is, we don’t have to wait for national leaders or state leaders to take action. We can begin today to do our part, and we’re going to do it with a curious mind and a hopeful spirit. We choose to think of this change — Joanna Macy calls is “The Great Turning” — as an adventure. And we’re inviting you along.