It’s Not All Mary Poppins

I hereby resolve…

I have not made a New Year’s Resolution since I was a teenager. (Longer ago than some of you, my sweet readers, have been alive…)


This year, however, I’ve been doing a lot of very interesting reading, most recently The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and In Defense of Food, both by Michael Pollan. They are fabulous, and I strongly recommend you all read them. (I hereby need to give copious and public accolades to my long-suffering, ever-supportive husband, who almost never sighs in exasperation at having his own reading interrupted by yet another “Hey, love! Listen to THIS!”)

Both books highlight, in a most tangible way, the fundamental interconnected-ness of life on this planet we inhabit. What, after all, is more basic than sunlight, soil, water and food?

And with that notion of interconnectedness, I decided to make this my year to consciously and systematically work to tread a little more lightly on the planet.

By North American standards, my family does pretty well already. We don’t own a car. We don’t own a dryer. We live in a significantly smaller-than-average (North American) sized house. We bought locally-grown, organic vegetables last summer, and will certainly do so next year. We eat meat only once or twice a week. We recycle, we regift, we re-purpose. We carry our own shopping bags for errands, our own mugs for coffee, we use re-usable bins, not bags, for our groceries. We have a single room air-conditioner, which gets used a handful of nights in the heat of summer.

There are more I could list, but you get the idea. None of these things have reduced our quality of life one bit; many have increased it. (Those organic veggies? Oh, MY, they were good! And what better way to escape the unending grind of being the household chauffeur than by simply not having a vehicle? It’s the inarguable ‘out’ in transport negotiations with lazy demanding active teens.)

(Before people launch into reasons why they couldn’t possibly do a, b, or c? I’m not suggesting you should. There are probably things you do that I don’t. That’s fine. Just so long as we’re all doing something.)

And me, I’m seeking to do more.

So my New Year’s Resolution, my first in decades…

In order to tread a little more lightly on the planet, I resolve to make one permanent, planet-healthy change each month.

Anyone care to join me? If so, please leave a link in the comments. I’d love to have company! On the first Monday of each month, we can all post about our change for that month. Won’t that be interesting? (And, potentially inspiring: we can steal each other’s good ideas!)

This month?


I am beginning a herb garden in my kitchen. I’ve ordered a few packages of seeds, which I’ll set up in pots under the nice, west-facing window. Fresh herbs, all year round! And by so doing, I reduce the number of little glass (or plastic) jars in my cupboard, I improve the quality of food my family eats, I need that teeny bit less truck-shipped produce (and all its associated carbon costs). And I’m sure the tots will be interested in this one.

The seeds should arrive within ten days. I can hardly wait!

January 5, 2009 - Posted by | commemoration, food, health and safety | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. HNY Mary. I dont call my self environmentally minded, but I like to reduce clutter and waste. So to that extend, here goes:

    I already have small herbs on my window. These are the salad veggies that I find in the super market, and I just take only as much as I want and replant them. And when I am away for many weeks and cant find a plant sitter, I dry the leaves and stems and use them later. ( Any idea on how to keep plants watered when you are not home? )Ive been doing this since last June.

    I donate to charity the clothes, shoes and accessories I no longer use – there are huge bins for clothes collection by one of the local charities near where I stay – any piece of clothing which I take out from the wardrobe and feel ‘Ugh, no way I can wear this!’ If I don’t, someone else will. And my home is then clutter free.

    Also, lowering the heating when leaving home and switching off laptops, mobile phone chargers and wifi when not in use also helps.

    Re-gifting is a touchy issue – some of my friends feel offended if people do that. So I am more low key/careful with that. Often the stuff I do not use go with the clothes to charity.

    Another thing I do is to recycle empty bottles and reuse plastic covers. I also don’t own a car – always use public transportation – but in all fairness, the last three was made easier by the Finns, who pay me for the empty bottles, charge me for new plastic covers at the grocery store and have an excellent public transportation system in place.

    Waiting to hear about more ways and means of reducing clutter.

    Those are all terrific — you may not consider yourself environmentally-minded, but you’re acting like it, which is all that matters. And really, a great many of the things we could be doing for the environment also simplify and de-clutter our lives.

    p.s. Did you see that Z, comment 9, has a suggestion for your plant-watering dilemma?

    Comment by Suzi | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. all right, i know it’s a lame excuse, but i don’t feel capable of making that resolution this year because i am just too busy and stressed and worn thin. seriously, i’ve stopped even using a reusable mug for starbucks because trying to remember to wash the thing every day had me nearly in tears. of course, being a first year teacher, lots of things have me near tears. 😛

    still, i applaud you for doing it, and i’m sure when i’m a little less stressed, i’ll be jumping right back on this bandwagon. 🙂

    happy new year!

    The first term I taught, I would go home every night and cry. “For THIS I put off my wedding for a whole year??” (The fact that I should never have married him at all wasn’t clear to me at that point…)

    Go easy on yourself. Do what you can, don’t stress about what you can’t. And the teaching? It’ll get easier!

    Comment by Lara | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  3. I’m with you!

    Joe and I do a lot to reduce our impact (recycle everything, compost, no car, energy saver bulbs, grow our own herbs etc.)

    We also put power sucking stuff like our new TV and our game consoles on a power bar and we turn it off when we’re not using it.

    We’ve resolved to be better about turning out lights we don’t use and being less wasteful with water.

    I love long hot showers, but they sure use up a lot of water and electricity!

    Yay! Good for you, and thanks for joining me.

    Oh, and sometimes I sneak down into my son’s room when he’s not home and crash his power-sucking computers… Really. He goes away for a whole weekend and leaves them on, so I figure he has it coming. (And yes, he has more than one. Sigh.)

    You could have a long shower every other day, maybe?

    Comment by rambleicious | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  4. Good for you, Mary. Your post made me chuckle and cringe. As a resident of a resource-rich US state, just the fact that I recycle, buy organic, and walk my kids 4 blocks to preschool (instead of driving) puts me on the hippie fringe.

    Do you compost?

    I don’t compost, though I’d like to. I did in the last place I lived. I’ve given it quite a bit of though, and I can’t figure how to manage it here. Our back yard is entirely too shady. I have a composter back there, but nothing I’ve done so far has gotten it to heat up enough to do much more than stink to high heaven. Urgh. Our front yard is small, with nowhere to hide a compost bin. I doubt my neighbours would feel I’d improved the property values were I to plonk one two feet off the sidewalk…

    I’ve considered a vermicomposter in the house, but I have NO extra counter space, and I can’t imagine how I’d keep the tots and the dog out of it were I to put it on the floor. The basement is too cold.

    So, to my disappointment, no composter.

    Comment by katkins | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  5. I’m with you, but you may have to remind me each Sunday! You know how much I love Michael Pollan and how much he inspires me. So, my first change will be to reduce the amount of meat we eat. I started doing it as an experiment a few days ago, to see how long we could go without any meat at all before anyone noticed. Four days in and not one single comment! I’m going to try to get down to one or two days per week, total.

    Okay, I’ll try to remember to remind people on the last Sunday of the month that tomorrow is the day to announce the next month’s item.

    And your challenge for January is to reduce your family’s meat intake to one or two days per week. Good for you! You’re such a good cook, I can totally see why they’re not noticing!

    Our dinner for tonight? Black bean soup, cornbread and salad, all home made. Mmmm…

    Comment by candace | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  6. I read his books and found myself thinking very differently about food. Last night I cooked grouper with a tomato/basil/onion/caper sauce with wild rice and kale. Both my four and seven year old ate without fuss. I realize how much of their improved eating habits are related to my attitudes towards foods. They’ve helped me garden, sorted through our CSA, composted refuse and, finally, cooked. I think “treading lightly” seems to translate to “eating better” and I hope the progress I’ve made will show in their adult opinions of what counts as “food”- a legacy I will be proud of.

    Yes. There’s a surprisingly common notion out there that “treading lightly” means deprivation, when in so many ways it’s an enrichment and improvement. I’m sure your children will perceive food in a better, healthier way as adults as a result. (And your dinner? Sounds delicious!

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  7. I’m with Calvin, “As far as I’m concerned, I’m perfect the way I am!”

    But in case that the well-being of the whole of humanity is slightly more important, I think this a wonderful compromise.

    I’m in.

    Oh, good! Looking forward to hearing what you come up with. Will you do something for January, or start next month?

    Comment by Zayna | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  8. Sounds FANTASTIC! I know I have a lot to learn…I’m worse than all of you…I’m 23 and have lived in big cities all my life! (GASP! YOUNG AND DUMB! OH NO!)

    IT’s different where I live now (rural GA). There are trees and people have yards to plant in. I live in an apartment (can’t plant), but I do have a nice screened in porch I could plant in. My goal this year was to learn basic gardening anyway. It could serve as a lesson in “treading lightly” as well. And every little bit helps, right? So sure…I’d love to join in!

    I bought myself a Klean Kanteen and a Pur water filtration system. I havn’t used a commercialized “water bottle” since. (which is great since I went through 3-4 a day.) We did recycle the bottles, but still… Anyway, I love my new Klean Kanteen: No more bottles, no more cancer causing plastic chemicals leeching into my water if I leave it in my car too long…and it’s pink. Wonder what I’ll come up with next…LOL

    Oh, pshaw. “Young” does not equal “dumb”. I’m sure you’ll have dozens of great ideas! (You’re the same age as my oldest, in fact. She’s anything but dumb. 🙂 )

    I bought Kleen Kanteens for the tots a while back, in order to avoid plastics for them. They still have a plastic sippy spout, but it’s still got to be better than being surrounded by plastic, I figure.

    Comment by Coley Moley!!! | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  9. I’ll have to think about what I could promise to do. Where I’m not as green as I could be, there’s usually a reason. I compost, recycle and reuse. I have a car, but this is rural England where public transport is pitiful. I bath rather than shower because I don’t heat my bedroom and if I go to bed cold I don’t warm up all night. In short, I might break the promise unless I pretend to start doing something I do already ;-). I’m willing to try though.

    BTW, Suzi, if you put an old towel on the draining board with one end hanging down into the sink, put water in the sink and the plants on the towel on the draining board, that cares for all of them except the ones that need to dry out between watering.

    Maybe someone will inspire you with something you hadn’t considered! Who knows? Or maybe you could be the inspiration for others as you write about things you are doing.

    Good tip for Suzi. I’ll make a note of your comment in hers so she doesn’t miss it.

    Comment by Z | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  10. Most of my resolutions this year are more about remembering to enjoy this time off and try to make the most of it with my kids, but also to bring some order to my house and de-clutter, finding new homes for some stuff, and so on. But this month, I am also resolving to restart the use of my go-mugs (I got out of the habit since I usually sit in the store and use real mugs, but when I know I’m going out, I should bring my own again) and to remember to bring bags for shopping other than the groceries, too. Somehow, I only think of it for them, but I need to extend that out to other purchases. So those are the things I want to work on.

    Comment by kittenpie | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  11. Good for you Mary! We started the eco-way a few years ago, but we’re not doing nearly as well as you are. I know you will enjoy your herb garden – fresh herbs are worth it just for the smell!

    Comment by Merrilee Faber | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  12. Happy New Year. That’s a great resolution idea. I had some luck with basil last year, yum! I need to branch out and try some other herbs, can never have too many fresh herbs around. I’d like to try to grow some veggies. We had corn last summer, but the ants took over. Sigh. We will have to investigate how to take care of that problem.

    My hubby has read Omnivore’s Dilemma and loved it! It’s sitting on his nightstand, and I keep meaning to give it a try. I think he’s also read in Defense of Food, so I should look around to see if we have it.

    Comment by mamacita tina | January 6, 2009 | Reply

  13. I dont drive, I compost, I take my own shopping bags, I keep chickens, as from today I make my own yogurt – I got a yogurt maker from freecycle – oh and I belong to freecycle! Umm, what else, I recycle, I buy and give to charity shops, I do regift but they dont know! I do have a drier but only for fluffing, all clothes must spend 24 hours hung up in the laundry room or on the airer first, then a few minutes in the drier to ease the ironing pile and my bad shoulder! I would never ever put wet clothes from the washer into the drier. I’m greener than I thought!

    Comment by jenny | January 6, 2009 | Reply

  14. […] January 6, 2009 by zaynasgarden MaryP @ It’s Not All Mary Poppins has put forth the following resolution: […]

    Pingback by A 2009 Eco-Friendly Resolution « Zayna’s Garden | January 6, 2009 | Reply

  15. Hey Mary! Look what I found!

    It’s an indoor composter! I’m looking around for one, too. Our sunniest spot outside is on the side of the house; not so good for the neighbors, as you know. I could keep this one in the garage or the basement.

    Comment by candace | January 6, 2009 | Reply

  16. This is a great idea! I would love to do this as well. I’m not sure how well I’ll keep up with it, since I home school, go to school myself, and will (hopefully) be moving this year – but hey, every little thing helps!

    Comment by Lisa | January 6, 2009 | Reply

  17. Unlike Jenny, I fluff my clothes in the drier first, then hang them up to finish. I doubt I dry a load fully in the drier more than 3-4 times per year.

    My back yard is shady also, but I have a compost heap. It works much slower, but it does seem to work – burying the new compost under partially composted stuff or new leaves seems to help a lot.

    I’m already pretty good about taking my own bags to the grocery store, but this month I resolve to be better about taking my own bags into other stores as well. I made bags for Christmas gifts ( for my MIL and SILs and I plan on making some for me too – to go along with the bags I already use.

    Comment by Katherine | January 6, 2009 | Reply

  18. Happy New Year Mary.

    Great minds think alike, my new years resolution was to grow my own herbs and vegetables. So far we have planted, basil, chives, spring onions, spinach, baby carrotts and lettuce. Next I want to try corn and cherry tomatoes.

    Comment by Tammy | January 6, 2009 | Reply

  19. Great idea Mary! I’m on board for the less meat meals. And it is my goal this year to have the meat I do purchase and consume to be local and organic as well.

    Here’s my shortlist of successful environmental baby steps: Buy local as much as possible including local organic veggies in summer, recycling, cloth grocery bag and or bins, reducing purchases and buying items with excess packaging (a major pet peeve of mine), no dryer, composting, wearing clothes until they are actually dirty before washing, finding all sorts of uses for items that would otherwise end up in the landfill (making beanbags out of old fabric sample books!) Oh yeah and I hardly ever wash my floors but that has more to do with the fact that I am lazy in that sense and I do not have dogs! Not bad eh?

    Comment by carrie | January 7, 2009 | Reply

  20. Thanks Z! I will test it this weekend with me around, and will report back on how it goes…

    Comment by Suzi | January 8, 2009 | Reply

  21. Hi! I love your blog. Thanks for sharing your insights on children; as a first-time parent, they’re invaluable. I am also making environmentally conscious changes this year, and this one is small, but it’s a place to start. I LOVE liquid laundry detergent because it’s easy, fully dissolves, and smells yummy. However, this year I will use powdered, because we will not be aiding in the transport of the water in the detergent, just the cleaning powder. And the powder comes in recyclable boxes, instead of maybe-recyclable plastic. Although I love the clean taste of bottled water, I won’t buy it this year either. Plastic bottles aside, gas is being wasted and emissions generated by the transportation of bottled water and soft drinks. So, tap water for me this year!

    Comment by cmmc97 | January 12, 2009 | Reply

  22. […] Busy nesting. I’ve been cooking, and organizing, cleaning, de-cluttering, and planning. (My herb seeds arrived!) I’ve been reading, and playing games with my kids, and taking the dog (gawdhelpme) […]

    Pingback by No, I’m not dead… « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | January 26, 2009 | Reply

  23. […] February 2, 2009 by zaynasgarden Last month MaryP @ It’s Not All Mary Poppins offered anyone interested to join her in making monthly changes to our routines in an effort to tread a little lighter on the pl…. […]

    Pingback by This Month’s Eco-Friendly Resolution « Zayna’s Garden | February 2, 2009 | Reply

  24. […] 1, 2009 by zaynasgarden Following MaryP’s lead, I’m ready to share my next resolution for […]

    Pingback by This Month’s Eco-Friendly Resolution « Zayna’s Garden | March 1, 2009 | Reply

  25. […] hereby resolve: March Edition Remember my New Year’s Resolution? I was going to post one change each month that I was going to implement to make my impact on the […]

    Pingback by I hereby resolve: March Edition « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | March 3, 2009 | Reply

  26. […] Hat Tip to MaryP @ It’s Not All Mary Poppins for encouraging me on this path.  Click HERE for Mary’s post that started it all back in […]

    Pingback by I Almost Forgot « Zayna’s Garden | April 1, 2009 | Reply

  27. […] keeping with my monthly eco-friendly resolutions for 2009, also courtesy of MaryP @ It’s Not All Mary Poppins, I have come up with a real challenge for myself this […]

    Pingback by A Confession and A Resolution « Zayna’s Garden | May 1, 2009 | Reply

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