reprinted from my blog about surviving the Great Recession at shareable.net

Earth Day has always been my favorite holiday as a parent. I am known for my Scrooge-like tendencies in regards to the big Hallmark-card occasions, and only attempt to quell that predisposition for the sake of my children.

Well, the younger ones don’t care anyway, and I’m probably responding to guilty feelings based on grandparent expectations. I resist those. I resist the sense of obligation to get gifts and most of all to buy the decorations, trinkets, and crappy treats. Earth Day suits me because all that garbage is an anathema to the spirit of the holiday itself.

Earth Day is a time when my kids can feel proud of our family for the lifestyle that we’ve recently chosen. We went to a festival the other day (arriving on bikes after a four-mile ride) and the kids got an opportunity to say, “We don’t drive a car at all, anymore.”

And people exclaim, smile, share kindnesses, and it feels good. Not just like our fortunes have taken a turn for the worse. I look at what our days lately entail, and it’s nice that we can go a really long time without any money changing hands. It’s gardening season, and even my four-year-old is turning the soil and doing real work.

We are trying to keep ourselves strictly budgeted, even after the cash influx from the car sale. We need to stretch as far as we can, until we can get the younger ones into childcare, or otherwise free me up to contribute to the family finances. I have been thinking of putting together an environmentally-friendly housecleaning business, something I can do on the weekends, perhaps. I picture lugging my vacuum, assorted essential oils, baking soda, lemons and vinegar in my bike trailer, and I like that vision.

Recently, my husband has been fixing our appliances rather than chucking them when they break. We have this cool old fan that we bought at a garage sale for a dollar–heavy as an anvil and covered in grease and dust. We rebuilt it piece-by-piece, and buffed it to a shine and now it hums like a Cadillac. That’s it, pictured left.

Now when you buy a fan, an iron, a toaster, they’re made of lightweight plastic and meant to be thrown away when they stop working. But here’s my husband fixing an iron. Imagine that, fixing it instead of just tossing it in the garbage:

Our needs are modest, our overhead has been lowered, and life has become about simple, sustainable pleasures. Also about the work required in a life without the little luxuries. I don’t have to step out of the rat race; the only rats I deal with are in our basement, and it seems the neighborhood cats have taken care of those.

It’s been a beautiful spring, and we are learning how to do this. Today I pedaled up a steep hill with my babies in the trailer, and I could feel my strong legs carrying the load.