Zero Trash – Too Much or Perfect Life?

Having spring break, you get to see things that you normally wouldn’t. For example, this going green segment on the Today Show:

While I was proud to see attention being paid to such an admirable cause, I was at first skeptical. To me, it seemed extreme, impractical, and kind of weird. No, very weird.

But, then I looked the family up. The mother has her own blog, and THIS video helped me to look at it a little differently:

It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? I found the second video more uplifting. While I highly doubt I’ll ever be able to take on this lifestyle completely (my husband is incredibly flexible and willing, but THAT much?), I can certainly use their example (and tips from their web site) to make attempts towards lessening our environmental impact. 

The challenges that most of us face, even when we mean well, is our environment itself. How many of us have bulk options in our areas with soaps and shampoos available for filling our own bottles? I certainly think it would be awesome, but can you think of one? Also, if I were to walk into Hannaford and ask the fish guy to throw the salmon in a glass jar…well, who do you think would be the talk of the dinner table that night? *weird chick who requested it be placed in a glass jar, that’s who* I know the first step MUST be to cast off the shackles of judgment, but even our families would undoubtedly be rolling their eyes…if they don’t already. 😉 We’d be “that couple” or “that family”. I’ve always agreed with moderation in life, and this is an extreme that I’m not sure I could handle. I, apparently, care too much about what others think.

However, who would much care if I brought a mesh bag into the store for my fruit ‘n veg? Hell, they REALLY wouldn’t care at the farmers’ markets (although, strangely, most farmers’ markets that we attend provide lots of plastic bags, since they know that that’s what their consumers are used to).

This woman’s from France. I believe that this movement would be more socially acceptable in Europe, or the more urban/eco-chic areas of the U.S.. Europeans, in particular, while modern in styling are incredibly traditional in lifestyle – that is, their histories have incredibly deep roots compared to our new American seedlings. They have residents who have made cheese for 600 or more years, or baked bread for the village as long as anyone can remember. They have a step up on utopia. Too bad they also have helped, just as much as Americans, to evolve our world into a spiraling consumerist, gas-guzzling society…but, they’ve taken responsibility and are moving toward fixing the environment a heck of a lot better than we stubborn Americans. 

The Transcendentalist Movement with its own attempts at creating utopia (physical, philosophical, religious) can give one plenty of hope and gumption, but its ultimate failure makes one resistant. I’ve always been fascinated by different times; the challenge is integrated old-fashioned ideas and methods into the modern world, with its even greater ideas (such as true freedom and equality). Heck, we’re already the weird couple on the street that uses an old-fashioned push lawn mower, why not go for gold?

So, final thoughts? We’re already changing our mindsets to create a more simplified lifestyle, mostly by purging. I feel that once we both feel that we’ve purged to the point of, well, a) knowing where everything is in the house (shouldn’t that be a clue that you’ve got too much crap?), b) being happy with the possessions we have leftover, rather than feeling choked by them, and c) have storage space, lots of it, I think that we could turn our attention towards further simplifying…and maybe, just maybe, one day our cupboards will be filled with those cool French canning jars.

What do you think? Extreme and crazy, or the only way of the future?

Overcoming Facebook Addiction…Hopefully

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I recently posted on my Facebook page that I’d be using it less frequently, eventually (maybe) becoming Facebook Free. Casually, my husband and I have discussed the fact that FB seems only to birth annoyances and frustrations, and finds a way to actually delete people, in the literal sense, from our lives. I can recognize all the good that it creates for us — probably the most important, for me, is the fact that I can very quickly tell how my friends and family are doing (the only time that I communicate with some is through their status updates), and somehow it’s become another form of email. For others, it creates entertainment and fun. For still others, it helps with business, sometimes without needing a professional web site of one’s own, which I get. I see it. I really do.

However, an issue with Facebook, as with most Web 2.0 tools, is the anonymity factor, and the hurt that is sometimes brought by it. I’m not referencing any recent experience or anything; in the distant past, I found myself getting chest pains and literally red in the face over arguments I’d had with complete strangers on a friend’s status update — ridiculous! If I’m so sensitive to people and the way that they treat others behind the concealing black screen of the Internet, why was I made to live in the Information Age?!

But, I digress (as I often do on this blog ;-)). Also, as I often do on this blog, I create lists. So, I feel that’s the best way to let you know my reasons behind this decision.

– This is #1, and I give credit to my mother for saying it (and, undoubtedly, thinking that I wasn’t listening. I’m 28 now, and I do listen to my mother.) Living life. Living life and knowing that you’re living it. Looking at what’s around you and not immediately thinking, “I’ve gotta take a picture of this to post.” (Mind you, I occasionally do this for the blog, but it’s also because I want to remember the moment.) Just loving it, in that moment. FB is a pretty big hindrance to life living, for me.

Forcing myself to make separate connections to friends and family. It’s easy, REALLY easy, to comment on someone’s post or shoot them well-researched suggestions when they put it out there in their status update. But, what communication are we truly achieving? There’s a back-and-forth, sure. Do I really know that this person is my dear friend now because they left a kind word on my FB page? Wait, do I even know who that person IS? The human’s intrinsic need to find friends is being exploited by the FB company. You can pick out the people who are simply using FB to “get more friends,” regardless of the true connections they share. The more people who use FB, the more jump on the band wagon. The more users FB has, the more income. I don’t care about these stats! I want to figure out who my real friends are, and see them face-to-face or talk to them over the phone! (I will accept email and snail mail correspondence, of course, as well.) It’s time-consuming, but there’s a reason that it worked just fine for our parents, grandparents, and so on. I’ve gotta relearn how to do this.

Simplifying; sifting through the crap to leave behind only what I need to focus on and attend to. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by life. While I’ve been under the misconception that FB seems to make life easier — get home from work, hop on, waste lots of time — those dishes are still sitting there, the cats look bored, the house could use some sprucing up, and I’m feeling L-A-Z-Y. Then, when the guy gets home, after working overtime (yet again), how do I feel inside that he heads straight to the dishes? Pretty crappy. I’ve got a good 3+ hours of free time at home before he gets home, and FB can’t be an excuse anymore. I’ve got to be doing more of the stuff I need to attend to around this place in order to analyze what want out of life — which, in essence, is more simplicity.

– Something about the status update has an addictive quality. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Oh, so-and-so’s kid is sick, bummer. Apparently the Jets won, as is evidenced by at least 23 updates. Someone needs help harvesting their farm; actually, several people do — if only those were real farms and they were feeding real people. This is such a sublime waste of time, and I’ve become excellent at it. I gave up all the games when I was planning the wedding, and haven’t looked back. I don’t like feeling like I NEED to do something, but I go ahead and do it anyway. This is the FB addiction. I must retrain my fingers not to send me there.

Answering questions:
Would I use FB in the future? (That is, if it hasn’t gone the way of MySpace. Can you imagine THAT happening? …You can’t? We used to think the same thing about MySpace.) I would consider using it, actually, and probably still will — in limited capacity (at least, at first). I will post my new blog entries on FB. I will continue to update Ilion Little Theatre Club’s Facebook page. I will use it to advertise any future projects (creating a new profile for those companies/endeavors) – commercially.

As a library media specialist, how can you turn your back on 21st century tools? You may not know it, but this actually would be a pretty big deal in some library circles I’m a part of. But, I don’t think I’d be embarrassed to announce: “I’ve given up Facebook” to students and fellow teachers. I’m incredibly familiar with the site. I know that it’s not something that I need to make a part of my future. While I do my best at my job, I don’t find my career to define me – it’s what I do, not who I am. If anything, the fact that students are finding me online is as much of a reason to quit FB as any.

Aren’t you being condescending to all of your friends who use FB and enjoy it? (This question is a case of self-reflection and over-criticizing myself, more than anything. ;-)) Touche, if you’re thinking this. By no means do I intend to be the person standing on her soap box telling you about the evils of ANYTHING. And, no, I don’t think FB is evil. I just think that it’s one of the lesser-positives of our current society. Also, I do apologize if anyone reading this is taking offense or finding me to be too self-aggrandizing or even too complaint-driven (I truly dislike when blogs are used to rant about things, seriously). So, you may think I’m a hypocrite. But, I’m just trying to, in essence, make some sense of my life and what I’m doing with it, to simplify it all down to the things that I a) HAVE to do (ie work, cleaning the house, etc) and b) WANT to do (ie the theater, drawing, writing, etc). I’ve found that FB has, simply, kept me from too much.

Do you have thoughts on the FB subject? Please feel free to leave comments – but I do ask that, particularly if you disagree, please keep them respectful. 🙂 Oh, and if you see me responding to anyone who’s commenting on my latest post (or posting at all), please be kind — this is definitely an addiction, and it’s hard to break. As I said, I will be posting a link to the blog when I update.