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Series: Tiny Planet, Part 4 – Living Large

In the event that you missed the past three sections (or you just need a reminder), let me recap:

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Series: Tiny Planet, Part 3 – Tiny House

There’s a movement that’s going on right under your noses–a simple, unobtrusive, changing-the-world-one-square-foot-at-a-time movement.  The name of this movement?  The Tiny House Movement.

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Series: Tiny Planet, Part 2 – Winning Small

Going from the McDonald’s diet to the Green Diet in a day is nearly impossible for most people, but we can all take baby steps.  My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I started with creating a simple mental list with different restaurants and eateries that determined whether or not we ate there.  The list was simple:

  • Blacklisted: never entering establishment
  • Graylisted: seldom entering establishment
  • Whitelisted: establishment approved for occasional use

The list only worked if we upheld it and didn’t cheat.  It started when we realized that each time we went out to McDonald’s we felt like our insides wanted to escape.  Needless to say, McDonald’s was the first to be blacklisted.  From there, we’ve added many to the mental list, based on how we’ve felt afterwards and the used ingredients.  That was our first step towards a healthier life.

Since that day in high school, our black and gray list included nearly every restaurant in and around town.  We’ve also started buying products based on ingredients (not the food facts chart) and avoiding the hazardous ones, using water filters, showering and washing our hands with all natural soaps; then pure soaps, making shampoos, and avoiding GMO’s as much as possible.  We still have a long way to go, but each step is a step closer to our ultimate goal: to be completely self-sustained, but still part of society.

Though there are many many possibilities, I have outlined two possible paths to healthy living below.

Fast-Track

This method is not for the faint of heart.  It is fast and requires you to give up a lot, in a very short period of time.  Treat each ‘step’ below as one day.

Slow-Track

This method is much slower.  With each step, take your time and pace yourself.  Treat each ‘step’ below as one month.

Take a Deep Breath

You’re about to change your life.  And remember, any small accomplishment, whether in a day or a month, is an accomplishment worth commending.  It is important that you don’t overwhelm yourself.  If you start the fast-track and realize that it’s too fast, slow down–just don’t stop.  If you start with the slow-track method and realize that it’s too slow for you, speed up–just don’t derail yourself.  The idea is to succeed long-term and long-term change takes time, patience, and determination.  Whatever method your chose, may you succeed.

Steps 1 and 2

Any and all restaurants, food joints, cafes, delis, eateries, and any other food places must be blacklisted.  Get your food from home-made sources.  The reason is that most food joints use at least one GMO or hazardous chemical in their food. Fast food joints are notorious for this and, now, the fancy sit-down restaurants are becoming so, too.  The goal is to cut unknown sources of these contaminates.

Step 3

The goal is to cut as many pesticides from our diet.  In this step, start buying the Dirty Dozen only (or more, if you want to go above and beyond this goal) as 100% 0rganic (USDA Organic allows for non-organic ingredients–up to 5%! Thanks Obama) or non-GMO Project Verified (not government operated and very strict).  The Dirty Dozen is a list of 12 foods that have shown to have the highest levels of pesticides inside them (so washing them will not work).  These foods are Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Pears, Grapes, Spinach, Lettuce, and Potatoes.

Reward yourself with something, you’re doing great!

Step 4

Here, we have two goals:

  1. Buy non-GMO verified grains and seeds.  This is in preparation for step 5’s goal of creating a small garden and/or greenhouse in your back yard.
  2. There are ten most dangerous genetically modified food items and the goal is to start avoiding them completely.  They are corn, soy, cotton, papaya, rice, tomatoes, rapeseed (canola), dairy, potatoes, and peas.  You think you’re already doing a good job? Read the ingredient labels on the foods you eat–chances are, you’re eating some (if not all) of these ten.  You may still eat these items, as long as they are 100% organic or non-GMO Project Verified.

Step 5

This goal is more hands-on.  We are going to build a backyard garden, greenhouse, or both (that’s up to you) and prepare for when our seeds arrive.

Backyard Garden

These are great, because they are relatively easy and you can make them as small or as large as you want (or are allowed to).  There are many books and websites to help you along, but make sure you also build vertically to reclaim the sky (see here, here, and also search the interwebs for vertical gardens). You can also try the Three Sisters technique (also called Companion Planting), which places three seeds from different plants in the same hole creating a symbiotic mini-garden in each hole.  This is a Native Americans method and traditionally uses corn, beans, and squash, but it can contain any combination of “approved” seeds.  Pressed for space? Try the square foot gardening method, which is good for very small gardens and does not yield much (but is a fantastic start!).

Greenhouse

You can go to your local home or garden improvement store and get ready-made greenhouse kits.  If you’re like me, though, you want to build one from scratch.  If you choose to build a greenhouse, know that you will may not be done in a day, but that’s okay–build some every day or so until your masterpiece is complete.  Have fun with it–design your own, use others’ plans, measure and cut wood, turn it into a family project.  And remember, it can be tiny, medium, large, recycled, indoor, dome-shaped–the world is your canvas.

Whichever you choose to set up, remember to plant your seeds when they arrive–there’s nothing like fresh vegetables and fruits grown in your very own backyard.

Step 6

This is possibly the hardest and most expensive step–we are going completely organic and non-GMO.  Search your house for all non-organic and GMO products (including toiletries), foods, and drinks (remember the teas and coffees) and donate your find to your local soup kitchen (they will be extremely grateful and you may be able to recover some of the costs in taxes under the ‘donations’ section).  If it’s a food you still want, buy its 100% organic and GMO-free counterpart or, alternately, you can search for the recipe and use organic ingredients.

Step 7

Stand in the middle of your kitchen with your pantry open and stare at what you’ve accomplished! You did great! Then, go outside and look at your new garden and/or greenhouse–finished or not, be proud (just remember to finish).  Now get yourself a treat of some sort and rest.  Tomorrow is a new day and you can live it organically–you made that happen.

Please remember to always operate under all applicable laws–they don’t serve organic in jail.


 

Next Post (9/19/2014):

Series: Tiny Planet, Part 3 – Tiny House

This is part three of a four-part series named Tiny Planet. In part three, we will discover what a tiny house is and how it is benefiting us and the planet.

Series: Tiny Planet, Part 1 – Making a Tiny Impact

We’ve all heard of our carbon footprint, but only the business savvy of us have heard about the commercial impact.

In business, commercial impact is measured with the commercial impact index, which is a number that identifies a company’s employees’ impact on its current and future earning power.

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