I’m looking at a picture of my husband with our oldest son on his lap when the boy was about 6 months old. We’ve all changed so much since then. My husband looks positively scrawny in the picture compared to how he looks now. My son is now 9 – long-haired and lanky. We added another member to the family a couple of years after the picture was taken as well.
I think I’ve changed as well. With children and age came some measure of maturity. In those days we were totally free with our money, charging on a credit card what we wanted but couldn’t afford. I wasn’t thinking at all about ethics or the environment or being thrifty. I was centered on the brand new life we’d created. As I should have been. It was only as the eldest got older that I really started thinking about what he would learn from me. I should have thought of it sooner, but I was concerned with things like how I wanted to discipline him and how I’d teach him things like reading and numbers. He started getting interested in science and I started thinking about the world around me and how I wanted to teach him about it. With those thoughts came the knowledge that I wanted him to see himself as part of the world, and a custodian of its resources. That led me to teaching him about recycling. It was a good start but I didn’t change my buying habits so we just started recycling the packaging from all of the things I bought.
I was always worried about money and started searching around for ways to budget that would give us more money to spend. Our debt got huge. I spent a lot of time crunching numbers and trying to find ways get from under it. Meanwhile I started spending more for organic produce and green products. I was buying my way green. That just used up money that should have gone to our debt. I read dozens of books on getting out of debt. I finally found one that worked for me and started paying things off.
Meanwhile I was searching around Netflix one day and decided to watch Food, Inc. That was the start of vegetarianism for me. With the idea that all creatures deserve to live came the idea that there were other things I needed to do to be more ethical in my life. Very early on I decided that this was my transformation and I wasn’t going to try to convert anyone else. I would lead by example and, if someone wanted to follow, that would be great. I wouldn’t force it on anyone, not even my family. But, I would go out of my way to try to be more ethical in my own life. That included buying less, paying my debts, and trying to use less overall.
I’ve not always succeeded, but I have come a long way. Now when I want to shop I tend towards the thrift store. I shop at discount stores and, if we can’t afford it, we do without. I try hard to stay true to what I believe. If I’m not always totally successful, at least I’m doing better than I was. I’ve also learned that no one is perfect. It’s darn near impossible to live up to the expectations that I originally set for myself. Every thing I do in a thrifty, green, and ethical direction is a step in the right direction.
Yes, I’ve changed a lot in the last several years. We all have.