Today I read an article discussing the virtues, or lack thereof, of my generation, Generation Y. This generation is supposed to have started in the early 1980s and ended in the early 2000s. The article discussed the complaints previous generations have about mine. These complaints largely centers around the idea that we are self-centered, entitled, and lazy. It also talked about a few of the reasons that this may be the truth — for example, as a product of the previous generations attempt to make us feel that we are all special and unique. Not a bad thing; but clearly can have its drawbacks if other factors aren’t reinforced like work ethic, financial responsibility, and resourcefulness.
There are other factors facing, not just my generation, but all generations, at present — the job market, for one. Another huge factor in our potential failure or success is the high cost of education and the heavy debt this often means. Because my generation has the highest college and university entry rate in all of history, we are also starting our careers later than other generations. The cost of living, at least in my province of Nova Scotia, is extremely high, which makes it less appealing to settle here and because the job market is not stable or forth coming with job possibilities, more and more people are deciding to start families later. How does all this relate to my opening paragraph? Well because of these things, our generation looks un-motivated and lazy; we look selfish and entitled.
The truth is, at least for myself and many of my friends, we are all hard workers. We all want to make a difference in any way we can but we grew up in a world where everything we had came from a store. I never learned to sew, knit, or make bread. I’m sure I could have had I asked, but it never occurred to me to ask. I didn’t learn how to responsibly handle money — I knew my parents worked to make some and that they paid bills every month, but in terms of how to make a budget, that was something I learned too late; after I learned how to incur debt. I, of course, knew that the food I ate came from a farm, or a sort-of farm, somewhere in the world, but if you had asked me what’s in mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, or ketchup my answers would be far from satisfactory.
Over the past month, my husband and I have been on a crusade to live life more organically. We want to do this for several reasons: to save money, to reduce my waste production, to be healthier, and to be more resourceful. The first thing we did was cut down on the amount of laundry we do. We did this by making a conscious decision at the end of everyday about whether an article of clothing was actually dirty or whether it could be worn again. Next we started making our own bread. We do have a breadmaker, but the end product is still chemical free and, so far, has far surpassed store-bought products; I know what goes in to my bread and my body knows what to do with the ingredients also. For me, this is paramount as I have struggled with mild IBS for the last three years. This weekend we decided to try making our own laundry (both powder and liquid) and dishwasher detergent, as well as all-purpose cleaner. All went well and we’ve already fallen in love with the laundry soap. It’s ridiculously easy to make, smells wonderful, has low sud output and so can be used in HE washers, and cleans as well as any soap I’ve ever used. As an added bonus, it’s great of sensitive skin like Adam’s because we can control the ingredients.
Our next project is to make our own cat litter, antiperspirant, and condiments. Adam made me some cocktail sauce tonight to eat with my football-Sunday shrimp and it was delicious so I can only imagine how much better homemade mustard will be. A big goal of ours, well, really mine, is to set up a small-scale greenhouse on our balcony and start growing food we use frequently; such as, lettuce, cucumber, potatoes, tomatoes, and culinary herbs. This goal is a little out of our price range at the moment but we are working towards it. I’ll keep you all updated as we progress with our foray into a more resourceful lifestyle — it promises to be an adventure if nothing else!