Who’s Better?

Life isn’t a competition. And goodness knows that a marriage REALLY isn’t one. I’ve never been in for competitive sports, but it seems that I might just have a pretty competitive nature by design. My dad WAS into sports of all shapes and sizes, so maybe I’ve just inherited a pride at doing something well.

Nevertheless, I thought I’d wave a “hooray for us” flag but also show how truly flawed (and human! Get that!) Dave and I are. Particularly, I mean, when it comes to our newer eating habits and greener lifestyle. You can read my first post ever for what set us on this journey.

Dave is S-T-R-I-C-T that we not even set foot inside a Walmart. It seems that he’s quite proud of the post I once wrote about giving the place up. At the same time, out of convenience more than anything, we’ve stopped going to Aldi for fruits and veg. While this, of course, hurts our budget a little more, it really forces me to ask myself whether we neeeeeed the food items that we’re buying rather than turning it into more landfill waste. So, he definitely gets a gold star as far as his concern of the quality of our food and how much (or little) we waste.

Thanks to a looser schedule, however, I get a gold star (go me!) for the actual purchasing of the foodstuffs. I’d say that about 90% of the time, mostly out of necessity and, like I said, a much more accommodating work schedule, I purchase the groceries. During the summer, it might be a little less since there are more farmers market visits (although, the local ones run when I’m free and Dave’s at work, so the percentage may still be in my favor), and it’s fun for us to go shopping together. Sounds sick, but we truly enjoy discussing what we want, why we want to try it, and persuading each other to try something new. It’s very good for our relationship, so we do try to go grocery shopping together every month or so. But, still, the point is mine!

Here’s another area that Dave excels: *gulp* He eats his fruits ‘n veggies. Mind you, neither of us is altogether wonderful at doing this. Our lunches still consist of mostly soup or sandwiches and chips (all-natural, but still). We could be doing lots better. But, when I get an orange in my lunch bag, a vast majority of the time it somehow finds its way back home. Dave, however, eats it. So, point for him. Yeah, we both have to do a lunchtime makeover. Heck, I’m lucky enough that I have a husband who willingly MAKES mine for work everyday. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m a lucky lady, alright!

But, I get the next point for green thumbery. (No, that’s not a real word; yes, I think I’ll continue to use it on a regular basis.) While Dave helps me in any way possible with our gardening, such as when we built our first raised bed garden last year, but I’m usually the one tending and harvesting and planning. I sometimes got behind on it last year, but overall, it was definitely my baby — and, boy, have I got some plans for the 2011 Victory Garden! So, my point. Yessssss!

Stuff. Things. Possessions. Crap. Call it what you will, but Dave gets the point as far as our green initiative of decluttering is concerned. He’s the king of Ebay, sending NUMEROUS orders out weekly, all in an attempt to surround himself only with what he a) needs and b) is emotionally attached to. We’re working on a wabi-sabi existence (whether he knows that’s what it is or not ;-D), which I’m sure I’ll get into in a future blog post. Dave’s embraced a simpler life; I’ve still got tons of clothes and stored items that I’ll probably never use. Simultaneously, I’m trying to follow Dave’s lead of using what we have before purchasing new (which is hard — his mom, as any mother would, expects me to keep an eye on his clothes, etc, to make sure he looks acceptable for life’s expectations…I always say “It doesn’t matter what I look like, but he has to leave the house halfway presentable. He’s the one being criticized by viewers.”) Regardless, he does a great job with simplicity and I need to learn a lesson from him — Point, Dave. *By the by, I’ve read more about wabi-sabi recently in a magazine, but cannot remember for the life of me where I first discovered it. If it was on your blog (Sarah? Maybe??), please feel free to let me know so that I can give credit where it’s due! Thanks!!*

Greenery and sustainability! We both do our darnedest to be green, and should be proud of our efforts, I think. This is a very close category in terms of “scoring.” While we do produce more trash than we’d both like, we’re obsessed with recycling and reusing, when possible. We buy recycled toilet paper and, when possible, paraben-free soaps and shampoos. However, I think that I get the sliiiiiight edge here. I’m the one with sneakers made from recycled products, a new steam-cleaner (which we got for only a few dollars after using our Macy’s wedding gift card for using them as a registry) which reduces the need for a crapload of cleaning products, and an itchin’ to revert to cloth napkin and handkerchief usage. I’m learning how to can and freeze (hoping to have shelving dedicated specifically to my homemade canned goods and cold storage for root vegetables in the basement when it warms up a bit), and am still trying to figure out a better way to compost, for our needs (last year’s attempt may be deemed a disaster — we’ll see when the spring thaw comes). I’m dreaming of the day when our pennies are saved enough for newer, Energy Star appliances (but, again, using what we have until it’s no longer usable…*sigh*). And, while I have a newer car, it’s the bane of my existence — I wish that I’d considered longer and gone with a more compact Subaru wagon or VW that we could run for a couple of decades, or had saved up more for a hybrid. Sooooo, I’m a little…obsessed. I think I do a lot more research about green living and read more about how we can make life changes. Oh, and I’m already planning for 21st century parenthood (although Dave’s on-board with all my hair-brained schemes — cloth diapers and homemade baby food, anyone??). Did I mention “obsessed”? Yeah. Point, Meg.

So, at 3-3, it’s pretty obvious that we’re tied. That makes me pretty darn happy — I didn’t really want to win, anyway. There are areas that I’m very proud to know that we are succeeding so well at, while others are disappointing, to say the least (compost: fail — always sad to admit a failure, but, dangit, I’m going to figure it out!). I think the fact that we’re about 9 months into the true life change experiment and it seems that we’ve made some real changes is encouragement enough. Go, Team Dellecese!!! (My actual last name is legally McCoy Dellecese, no hyphen, but that gets confusing. ;-D Besides, we’re still connected by the Big-D.)

Quitting Walmart

Well, maybe quitting is a strong word. Somehow, I’ve escaped “needing” a Walmart visit for a good while; or, at least, one where I look around a lot and actually USE the place. (I was using their prescription department, so once a month I’d have to go in, but it was a quick stop.) It might be the fact that we’re buying our groceries at Hannaford (mostly) and Aldi (occasionally), and are visiting more farmers’ markets.

Today, I had little choice but to go to Walmart for my consumerism needs. An after-school meeting for summer school made my time scarce, and somehow the crumby weather and my mood matched, so I wanted to get home ASAP. I needed to grab a couple items — and I needed to do it fast. Fast = hesitation to go to the busiest place in the Valley at the busiest time of the day.

Most Walmart stores are, admittedly, the hub of their town. Unfortunately, this is what Walmart hopes for. Heck, I remember going to Walmart in high school to hang out with friends (they DID have air hockey, after all). Trips to Walmart have marked several important points in my life, from heading to college to getting an apartment to when we finally moved into this house — huge Walmart hauls accompanied each.

A quick stop at our Walmart is never that. The parking and general traffic there is a flustercuck. (Yeah, I said that.) People (myself included — hey, following the flow of traffic!) drive over the parking lines, criss-crossing and nearly hitting other cars driving in opposite directions. An overhead camera shot throughout the day would probably look similar to a beehive. Bzzz bzzz. Only less organized. 😉 So, the driving itself is a lesson in patience and life philosophy. “Do I hate people, or do I pity them? Wait! I LOVE people, that guy just let me in.”

The stress only follows you into the aisles. Why are there not driving lessons for carts?!?! Or, at the very least, lights and turn signals? Rudeness abounds. And, above all, don’t get me STARTED on the fact that you enter for one item (in this case, a baby gift) and you leave with a million extras. Some say convenience; I say too much.

Walmart used to be such a routine for me, I went to no other stores locally. Zilch. Occasionally, for clothes, I went to Utica (our closest, mid-sized city). Man, did I have a lot of grocery bags to show for it!

Since buying groceries mostly at Hannaford, we haven’t noticed our grocery bill getting larger — which is surprising because Hannaford’s prices are higher. However, we’re looking a lot more at what we’re purchasing and why, and are building our organic and natural products a little at a time. Overall, though, we may actually be saving money while spending more. How crazy is that?! It makes me feel pretty darn good.

I realized that, when I walked into Walmart, it felt as if it was my first time entering. It drew me in. I saw hip-designed beach towels, cool sunglasses, and comfy flip-flops that called to me. It was kind of like a drug or some other addiction — when you’re off it for awhile, you forget the appeal until it’s introduced again — at which point, it’s intoxicating (sometimes literally). Thank God I was aware of myself and only ended up leaving with ONE extra product — some gum. *whew* But, man, was that tough!

After recognizing that Walmart can be so addicting, I resolved myself to continue avoiding it — to shop locally as much as possible, and to make the occasional trip to Target (in New Hartford) for sustainable products when absolutely NEEDED. Yeah, I think Target IS better than Walmart, mostly because you can find biodegradable and eco-friendly products and because it’s further away, it’s less likely for me to stop by weekly, becoming dependent.

I’m happy that I’ve realized my choices — and the fact that I have them — when shopping.