Gosselin Family - Walk To The RiverWhat a summer! We started out trying to chart our own path to living more sustainably. And we ended up on the greatest journey of our lives. I’m not talking about another trip to Europe or Asia. No, we ended up somewhere much more meaningful than that. This may be a stretch, but I believe we stumbled upon our place in the world.

This week we’re going to look at The Goodness Challenge in review. What changes made the most difference? Where did we end up after 12 short weeks of challenges? And what comes next?

The Biggest Impact

For those of you joining our journey a little late, The Goodness Challenge was our attempt to become a more responsible family by improving our spending, consumption and living practices through a series of weekly challenges.  The challenges were largely selected at random based on suggestions from readers and our thoughts on what changes would make the biggest difference in our lives – and the world at large.

Admittedly, a few of our challenges turned out to have much more impact on our lives than we’d planned.  On rare occasions, we found ourselves unable to turn back.  When we started out, we did not intend to become super “crunchy”, but once we learned some tools, we were able to let go of old habits in a very liberating way.  Although Carl is a bit of a “change expert” (occupationally speaking), we did not know that we had this kind of capacity for change.  Or that we wanted to be anything different.

Here are some of the challenges that “led us down the rabbit hole” towards more sustainable living.

Eating. (Always at the top of our list – ha!)  The flexitarian, or weekday vegetarian, lifestyle just works for us.  We now eat meat only on Saturdays and Sundays.  No exceptions.  (Check out Good All Around: Become a Flexitarian (A Weekday Vegetarian) for more details.)  Besides saving money and helping the Earth, we feel fantastic.  Of course, we had read about portion controlling meat before, but we really didn’t get that meat was making us feel bad.  This challenge worked wonders on us – mind, body and soul.

On a related topic, buying local was a big “a-ha” for us.  Granted there are a few items that we still routinely import; however, we always look for local first.  (But really, who can live without bananas?  Check out our Go Local post for more information.)

As you may recall, as part of our Go Local challenge, we started getting weekly produce deliveries from one of our local farms (Dave’s Produce Packs).  The produce is always picked fresh that day and has been scrumptious so far.  Each week we get a different selection of local, fresh veggies. We’re not wasters, so we try to eat everything in our packs, which means we’re finding new ways to cook vegetables we might not have previously tried.  As such, we’re packing our bodies with healthy, fresh produce and changing the way we eat overall.  We didn’t see this coming.  In fact, we were a little put off by the fact that we wouldn’t get to choose all of our veggies like we would from the supermarket.  Like most things in life, the good things are often the ones that you don’t expect.

Spending. This was one of the main reasons we started Tales Of Goodness.  We wanted to make sure that we were buying the right things and sending the right messages to the companies that make – well – everything.  (Check out our first ever post – Spend Responsibly: GoodGuide Your Groceries.)  We started consistently researching every item on our grocery list using GoodGuide (and other sources) to make sure we choose the brands that best line up with our values.

What we didn’t know was that we were simply buying too much.  We never made a conscious decision to just stop buying things.  It just sort of happened.  It turns out that all that stuff was highly unnecessary.  Sure, in some cases “going green” means you have to replace something harmful with something healthy, but in most cases, it really just means to stop replacing stuff at all.

Consuming. I know that I just said that we are not wasters.  But I really meant that we don’t like to waste.  What we’ve learned is that we sometimes waste unknowingly – and needlessly.  In some challenges, we were able to drastically reduce our carbon footprints (and our finances) with no impact on our standard of living.  For example, by changing some lightbulbs and unplugging some old appliances, we were able to cut our power bills (roughly) in half.  This was a real eye opener for us.  (Check out Cut The Power: Easy Ways to Reduce Household Energy Consumption.)

Giving. The best thing of all about this summer was the time we spent with our children. We feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to just be with them. Rather than rushing them from play date to play date and activity to activity, we just kicked back. We spent most afternoons in the backyard using the dozens of toys we already have.

All that our children want at this age is to be with us. This summer we were able to indulge them. We feel that’s likely the greatest gift we could give to the world – and to ourselves.

Who Are We Now?

Essentially, we’re the exact same people that we were when we started this journey.  Just a little more comfortable with ourselves.  That nagging feeling that we could be doing more has faded.  Of course, we could always be doing more, but now we know we’re on the right path.

It’s the difference between watching a storm approach your hometown before and after having “battened down the hatches”, so to speak.  Before, we feel worried and restless.  After, we’re still concerned, but there’s an odd peace to it.  We’re as ready as we can be.  It’s out of our hands.

And Now What?

Well, now it just keeps coming. We are both back to work this month.  (Fingers crossed.)  That means that our blogging time will be somewhat limited; however, our commitment to making the world a better place for our kids is still going strong.

We can’t support every cause, but we have a few items still on our “to do” list.  We’ll continue to work our way through them and blog about it in case anyone out there can benefit from our testimony.   So stick with us.   We’re not going anywhere just yet!

In the meantime, batten down the hatches.  And try to be good.

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About the Author

Just a small town mom trying to make the world a better place for my kids. One small change at a time.

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