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Conscious Consumers – Getting in the Groove (Part 2)

Dec 15, 2009
by Annette Thurston, VIA Architecture
Click here to read Part 1 of Conscious Consumers

**No plastic, No aluminum, 2 hours of TV/Laptop time, purchase what we can carry, and dine out a max of 3 times a week**

The month of October proved much more difficult than I was prepared for. No Plastic?! EVERYTHING is wrapped in plastic. Well…everything bad for us and our planet, right? Sure there are the occasional sacrifices of using plastic. Toothbrushes. Toilet paper, paper towels; (which is completely ridiculous by the way. Paper wrapped in plastic.) It’s definitely an adjustment. One that I am still making.

The biggest issue for me in October was definitely food. Going to Safeway was traumatic. I was limited to just the produce area. Where, by the way, seeing all those rolls of plastic bags for the vegetables was just maddening. There are no instant meals in the produce area and since I couldn’t buy anything in tin, I couldn’t even get canned vegetables or fruit.

Seeing as how I’m not a cook I had no idea where to start. I felt like a stranger lost in a place I had been thousands of times. And I wasn’t even limited to local yet. I could have anything I wanted and I ended up leaving with the few things I knew how to make: potatoes and some veggies for sandwiches. At least I was able to leave with the amount of things I could carry in one re-usable bag.

But the food didn’t last long and I was at the store much more often than before and was spending nearly double the amount in a month than I had before. Not to mention I was eating out a lot more than before too. It felt like I was always out of food! I felt so out of control in my spending and had no idea what to do to curb it. I was just panicking. It didn’t help that Adam would text me (almost daily) pictures of his delicious meals that he made from fresh whole foods while I was eating an apple for dinner or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I really needed to learn how to cook.

The upside to this was that since I was only allowed 2 hours of TV per day, I had a lot more time to spend in my kitchen making something (hopefully delicious) to eat. Also, while we’re on the subject, only watching 2 hours of TV a day opens up a whole new world filled with nothing but TIME. Time to read, time to socialize, time to clean and organize, time to ponder how I’m going to get through this next year.

So October was rough. Just getting into the groove and basically detoxing myself from my life of instant, cheap, and lazy was no easy feat. Thank goodness I work with people who are already adjusted to living sustainably. They provide me with so much support and have directed me to some great resources to help me prepare. One of which was The Natural Resources Defense Council website — a great website that tells you exactly what foods are in season for whatever state you live in.

For instance, foods growing in early/late November in the state of Washington are:

Apples, Asian Pears, Beans, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chard, Collard Greens, Cranberries, Garlic, Grapes, Hearty Greens (Bok Choy, Kale, Mustard Greens), Jerusalem Artichokes, Kohlrabi, Leaf Lettuce, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Raspberries, Rutabagas, Shallots, Spinach, Turnips, Winter Squash

Not a bad list. Ironically enough, this (albeit limited) list made it easier for me to go grocery shopping because I knew exactly what I could buy and all I had to do was find recipes for it. So I knew eating locally in the month of November wouldn’t be nearly as difficult as the last month was. I finally figured out how I was going to get a hold on myself and stop panicking.

And that brings us to the next challenge: Eat Local and Sustainably. 

(stay tuned for part 3)


  1. What a difficult challenge this must have been for you. I am very impressed with how disciplined you were and wish I could be able to accomplish such a difficult yet super important goal. I promise, that I will definately be more aware of what I’m eating and what it’s wrapped in. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  2. “Did I ever tell you you’re my heeeeeero?” But, seriously, this has been such an awesome experiment and I have learned so much from you throughout the process, Annette! Granted I have made NOWHERE near the sacrifices and commitments that you have, but now when I get lunch out, I bring my own fork, instead of using the plastic ones they provide etc. Just the little stuff I have begun to notice. And it all starts with awareness, right? Thanks for all your hard work on this, you shall go straight to eco-heaven for this!

  3. Wow. That does not sound easy but at the same time it’s encouraging to know that someone else tried it and survived it. Being eco-friendly really is about knowledge – knowing what to buy and when to buy it. Thanks for the awesome info!