Have you read the many articles about how expensive it is to eat only organically? I have. They are numerous and everywhere. I have read many blogs about how people are stupid for believing in organic food and other products. I have read articles about costs and the hassles.
While I work very hard to make sure our home is filled with organic food and natural products, I have to stay within a budget same as the next family. The grocery budget is not an issue and so far (since Oct 2013) we have been successful at keeping our monthly grocery bill under $200 a month - that includes the cost of our dairy CSA but not the cost of chicken feed for our eggs.
Frugality though is something I struggle with. Have you ever been on Pinterest? There are some amazing pins about fun things to do with kids, such as sensory bins. When I make them for the kids though, I am torn: do I buy organic items?
Food items, such as the beans and noodles in the picture can be expensive.Thankfully, I kept the non organic beans and noodles (that they expired in 2009 doesn't matter since we aren't eating them) and have been so happy to use them for these types of activities. That isn't always the case though. For now, we are using up what we have and doing without. I am teaching them to cook and bake to get other forms of sensory "play." But the question still remains, how do I do some of these fun activities while staying true to my organic and eco-friendly ideals?
Recently, while buying cat litter, the cashier in Tractor supply stopped me. I was buying The World's Best Cat Litter, which is expensive sawdust more or less. She told me that people have been switching to coarse layer mesh chicken feed to use as cat litter because it is $10 for a 50 lbs bag instead of the $17.99 for the 14 lbs bag I was buying. My thrifty side was like, wow, that's a great price. The eco-friendly side cringed. If I were to buy the non-organic chicken feed, I would be supporting GMO corn production as well as farmers who don't follow organic practices. Plus when we clean the litter boxes, that feed would have to be on the other side of the fence at the far end of the property so that our chickens won't consume the non organic, medicated feed and cat feces. But it would fit our budget better.
In the end I couldn't and wouldn't buy the chicken feed to use as cat litter but it still made me think about all the people out there were the bottom line is important. I was reminded of it when I picked up the cheaper cat food, made with grain, for our stray cat. What exactly am I supporting by buying the inexpensive cat food. I know there are additives and coloring and it isn't made with organic ingredients. Four months ago, it didn't cross my mind what I was buying for the stray cat that lives in my neighbors garage. What changed? Nothing. It is just an example of how easy it is to buy and support an eco-friendly and organic lifestyle while still needing to improve.
The book Zero Waste Home provides a lot of ways for me to get better. After reading the first few chapters, I talked to the people at my CSA about bringing my own quart Mason jar for buttermilk. This will let them save a plastic jug that I would need to haul to my recycling center and costs them money. A few suggestions in the book, such as providing a mason jar to your butcher seemed ridiculous and extreme to my husband. It wouldn't bother me though. Since we rarely purchase anything from the butcher is is a rather moot point but we did recently buy a whole cow from our local farm, Cricket Creek. The butcher shrink wrapped it. Since we aren't planning on salting our meat or drying it, is there a better way? A way that doesn't use so much plastic but still keeps the meat fresh? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that is an area I might want to look into for the next time we purchase a pig or cow. I am looking forward to finishing reading the Zero Waste Home book and getting other ways I can do better.
Have you had any "Ah!" moments like the ones above that caused a change in your behaviour? Is there anything you just cannot do/buy organic?
***Looking for a quick step you can do to reduce your waste? When a new catalog comes int he mail, immediately call their customer service and remove your name from their mailing list. You can get the same coupons and deals by giving them your email address. This will save paper and your time recycling.***
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