Environment and Ecology

Thank goodness I don’t have only themes that force me to come face-to-face with myself and my shortcomings!

Being a good steward of the space and resources that has been accorded to me is one of the areas I like to consider every few weeks in my Ideal Life Exercise. This has a broad meaning to me, everything from taking care of my plants and my little garden, to considering how much trash we have been taking out in relationship to our recycling.

I know that my family’s teeny tiny little efforts in this area won’t save the planet, but it is important to me that we don’t lose sight of the low-hanging fruit in this area.

In my Ideal Life, I am a person who:

  • takes good care of my plants
  • reuses everything I possibly can
  • recycles everything that can be recycled
  • uses creativity to keep stuff out of the dump
  • doesn’t buy anything with unnecessary packaging
  • lives as close to zero waste as I can
  • is conscientious about the origin of what I eat, wear…
  • reduces my carbon footprint
  • can make something out of nothing
  • Keeps on top of our recycling and doesn’t let it accumulate

The Questions:

What is working? I cannot count the number of times a day I must remind my prolific artist-scalawags that paper is not an eternal resource. Sometimes, when we are really lucky, we’ll have boxes that we can play with until and build things with until they fall apart, at which point we cut them up and use them as artists’ canvases. This always feels like I am winning at being an earth-loving mama when this happens.

I count it as a win when one of the scalawags says, “Oops! I forgot to turn off the light!”, just as much as when one of the geranium cuttings I have been nurturing starts to grow roots or when I remember to save the pasta water to water the plants. I have this idea to make reusable gift wrap for our little family’s birthday gifts out of vintage bed sheets and some velcro. When I figure that out, I will count it as a win, too!

What isn’t working? This question is usually more aligned to how much we have been driving the car or how much trash we have been throwing out. If either of those elements seems out of proportion to the lifestyle we try to maintain, it’s time to look at why.

We had a cold, rainy spring, and my hopes of biking places with my boys were a bust. Not to mention that when it was finally pretty out, I realized that I had a flat tire that needed to be fixed. This is definitely something that wasn’t working, although it was out of my control.

The Things to do element of the Ideal Life Exercise is where it’s at: water my orchids (I only water them once every three weeks, but they bloom for me every year!) I check on my geranium cuttings (I have been doing this every year for as long as I can remember. I just love my hot pink geranium!) Take the glass to the recycling center. Also, getting my flat tire fixed on the bike is a priority for this week.

As for Things to consider: oh, I am always finding an article here or there that will prick my interest regarding how to reduce our electricity usage, or how to make little boys’ favorite tee-shirts last longer by adding a few inches fabric to the bottom and the sleeves. I might discover a cool mending technique or an idea to recycle those lacy-with-holes camouflage pants that can no longer be worn.

As I come across an article or an idea, I will make a note of it in my DAYONE journal, then do a little round-up of things I might like to try.


I’m not ready to live off the grid yet, but being intentional about the impact we have on the environment and discovering new ways to lessen our footprint can also be creatively inspiring. Many of my refashioning projects come from items that were dump-bound. Giving them a second life makes me feel like I am doing something good for the planet, and it feeds my need to create…win/win!

Additionally, my Buy No Clothes in 2021 Challenge has brought me face-to-face with just how long many of my things could last if I wanted to take care of them. The Challenge has convicted me of all the wastefulness I have been guilty of in my past. It’s never too late to become conscious of this, and I am thankful that I am learning now before I make any more impulse purchases.

In my Ideal Life, I can make something out of nothing.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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