Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Word About Perfection

Before I keep going with this blog, and highlighting the 12 steps to buying locally, I want to take a few minutes to talk about perfection. By definition (according to Merriam Webster), perfection means: The quality or state of being perfect, being without faults or defects; or an exemplification of supreme excellence. I don't know about any of you, but I know I'm not perfect, nor is anyone I know. We all have our faults, and although many of us may be excellent at things, we are not excellent at everything. Perfection is a desirable, yet more than likely unreachable, goal for many. And that's okay.

My point is, when we are moving ahead in our journey to be more self-aware of who we are, what we are doing, and how we are consuming, perfection should not be the goal. If you set your goal is something that is not attainable, then our failure will come too easily because every little act of straying from this lofty goal will make us feel as though we are not good enough. I don't want that for any of you. I want positive feelings of making a change in ourselves, because it is much easier living life in the light rather than in the dark. Positivity makes us feel good about what we are doing, and that is the most important feeling in this journey.

For example, I'm not perfect. Far from it, in fact. And although I have laid out these 12 steps to buying local, don't expect that I live each step to its fullest every single day of my life. I have weaknesses just like every one else. Take my love of Guinness. That is certainly not local, and most definitely not a sustainable beer choice, but when I go out, that's what I order. Why? Because I'm not perfect. But, knowing that it is not the best choice is part of these 12 steps. And knowing that I buy it anyway is accepting that I cannot be perfect, but that every little bit I do, does count, so if I fail to be perfect along the way, I'm not a failure - just human.

Recently I received my book back from the editors, with some final adjustments outlined throughout it. One of them was a question about a statement I make regarding an apple juice product that wasn't from Maine. The editor asked why the author would consider buying the juice if it didn't fit into her agenda. My answer - because my kids asked me to. We were at the store, they were begging for some apple juice and I grabbed a frozen concentrate container and flipped it over. It stated it contained juices from 3 different countries (none of them the USA), so I didn't buy it. But I did consider it, and that doesn't mean my agenda of buying locally is a hoax, it simply means that I am not perfect.

As you move forward in your journey with me to consume local goods and food, keep this in mind. You are not perfect. But if you do your best to be aware and knowledgeable of the choices you are making, then you are on the right path. Steering off it from time to time will not get you lost so long as you remember how to get back.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Step 2 - Necessity

When you go to purchase an item, no matter where it is from, think twice before you do so, and ask yourself if you need it or not. Can you live without it? Do you want to live without it? Is there a way to buy it second-hand? 

This may be the most difficult step because it forces us to question our needs versus our wants. In a culture where we are able to fulfill most of our desires with minimal effort, it will take a good deal of willpower to step back from that culture and question these desires. But in doing so, we will gain a great deal of understanding about what we need to survive, what we need to feel comfortable, and what we want for pure enjoyment. This doesn't mean forgoing everything we have come to enjoy, however. If you're a coffee drinker, you will probably make the decision that coffee is a necessity. Or if you adore avocados, but live in a cold-weather climate that doesn't have the ability to grow avocados, then you will continue to buy them at the grocer. In order for us to re-evaluate our needs, it doesn't mean forgoing all comforts, just limiting them. It is also key to understand that even if you do keep items like coffee and avocados in your diet, there is still the opportunity to localize your purchases. Instead of buying avocados from Mexico, buy them from California. Find a local coffee roaster within your state. This way you are still supporting American businesses, while giving yourself a level of comfort.

Buying second-hand is also a fantastic way to get the things you want, and the things you need, in a more sustainable fashion. A nice comfortable chair is not always a necessity, but that doesn't mean you don't still want it. In that case, visit a Salvation Army, Goodwill, or become a member of Freecycle. Buying second-hand keeps unwanted items out landfills while providing us with the things we desire to maintain a level of comfort. Also, keep in mind when you are getting rid of items you no longer need, to donate them to the aforementioned places,  passing them on to the next person, and again, keeping them out of the landfills.

Consuming locally is important this day of age. Consuming only what we need is also vital. When we ship our foods and goods from all over the world we are using up natural resources that we no longer have to spare, we contribute to pollution, and we are giving our money to foreign businesses and industry's. Keeping our money home, within the country, will help build a stronger economy that can support us. Unfortunately, we live in a world where our food and goods are global commodity's, so finding what we need locally is not easy, and not always possible. But when it is, we should make the effort. When it is not, we should pause to question whether or not we need it, and whether or not we can find it used. Just pausing to question our choices, our needs, our wants, and our desires, makes us more conscious consumers.