Last week, I encouraged my readers to 'think outside the box' with their New Year's Resolutions and challenged them to include some goals for 2011 that help to benefit the world around them in some way.

I've spent some time during this past week refining my own goals for 2011 and considering what I can do to help my community and the world around me. I took the quiz on Practically Green to see where I was at in terms of being green in our home and found that while we're doing pretty well in a lot of aspects of green living, I've got plenty of room for improvement in water and energy usage. I also thought about how I've let my involvement in volunteer work fall by the wayside since becoming a mother. Since my roles as mother, wife, student, and helper leave with me limited time and resources, I knew it was important to prioritize what was most important to me and what could be integrated into our lives with relative ease.

I have narrowed down my 2011 goals to the following five Better World Resolutions:

  1. Family Cloth We're already a pretty cloth-heavy family. We use cloth diapers and wipes, cloth napkins, and I use cloth pads. What more could I do, replace toilet paper with cloth? Yes. This might squick some people out, and I've got some work to do to get my husband totally on board, but I'm committing to replacing at least some of my toilet paper usage with cloth. If cloths wipes are good enough for my daughter, why not me? For starters, I'll be using cloth only for "number one", which is where the majority of our toilet paper usage comes from anyway. (Even I'm a little squicked by the prospect of using cloth for adult "number twos".) Don't worry family and friends, there will still be a roll of toilet paper at the ready for your use, but by making this change, we'll drastically reduce the amount of toilet paper we buy and use, thus reducing the associated packaging and waste.
  2. Shorter Showers This should be simple. It's almost embarrassing that I haven't made this change already. I don't leave the water running while I brush my teeth. I only run the washing machine when it's full. I make a modest effort to re-use some of our gray water. So then how is it that I don't give a second thought to hopping into the shower and staying there for 20 or more minutes? For starters, I'm going to time my showers for a week to figure out what my average shower time is. I'm convinced it's about 15 minutes while my husband insists it's half an hour. Once I've got that number, I'm going to use a timer to shave 5 minutes off of it every few weeks until I'm down to 5 minute showers most days, with an indulgent 10 minute shower once or twice a week.
  3. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) I'm going to go beyond our weekly Farmer's Market runs in the summer and invest in a CSA share this year. This will not only support local farmers and keep our kitchen stocked with locally grown fresh produce, it will challenge me to get more creative with my cooking and try fruits and vegetables that I skip over at the market because I'm intimidated by (or ashamed of) my lack of knowledge on how to eat or prepare them.
  4. Support Local Women I'm going to go above and beyond the service project requirements to complete my Women's Studies minor in volunteering my time to support women in our community. I have more research to do on this one, but this week I will complete my application packet to volunteer at Options Clinic. I will also do more work in support of the New Horizons Shelter and Women's Center. At the very least, I will organize another donation drive for items and funds for their shelter. While time constraints may prevent my completing this last goal in 2011, at the very least, I will start the ball rolling on determining when and how I can start the process of becoming a WIC Peer Breastfeeding Counselor.
  5. SMART Recovery When I started on my journey to become a Substance Abuse Counselor, I was disappointed to find that there were no local SMART Recovery face-to-face meetings. This year, I will develop a plan to start a SMART Recovery program in our area. If there is enough demand, I'd like to include meetings specific to both women generally, and pregnant women specifically, which will further accomplish goal number 4!

Some of these changes and goals will require more time, energy, and planning than others. As my daughter grows and learns, I hope that she will take notice of the efforts I make to be mindful of meeting the needs of the world around me, and that she will follow my lead and find her own ways to do the important work of making this world a better place for all of us to not just survive, but truly thrive.

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Originally Published at Fine and Fair

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