This summer we have the pleasure of having my cousin live with us. She's in grad school here in the High Country and needed a place to stay for the summer while she takes classes and has her first practicum experience at the speech and language clinic on campus. It's been a great time to get to know her better, since we kind of drifted apart during those high school and college years.
One thing that she's helped us to think about more is vegetarian cooking and eating. She's a vegetarian, primarily out of her love of animals, and has been for several years now. While we're not vegetarian, we do have an understanding of how many livestock animals are raised in this country and feel that we have a moral obligation to use our purchasing power to curtail this. So, for us, this means purchasing less meat overall. (Did you know that it takes a vast amount of petroleum resources and grain stock to raise a beef cow, than to support a vegetarian lifestyle?) Secondly, it means purchasing from reputable sources, such as the ones we find at our local farmer's market or Earth Fare. By simply doing these two things, we can feel much better about how our food is grown and raised, and it means that we have a smaller carbon footprint, since our meat doesn't have to travel as far or use as many petroleum based machines for processing.
With my cousin living here, we've also learned a lot about communal living, which is something our small group has explored for a while. We've shared several meals together, meaning that the work is less on all of us to prepare that meal. She's been able to enjoy having a dog around (which she always wanted as a kid, but couldn't have due to asthma in the family), and Lavender has learned to be much more social with one more person. She's helping to keep the upstairs part of the house neat and tidy, which means less work for us. And it means that while we're on vacation, she'll be here keeping an eye on things and making sure things go smoothly here at home, including the vegetable harvest.
Later this summer, we're hoping to add another friend to the communal living arrangement for a few weeks while his house is being finished. He's offered to help us with some major landscaping projects in exchange for the room, as well as lending a hand in the kitchen with his excellent culinary skills. And, since his family will be using our basement to store their things for the short term, it'll be incentive to clean out the basement.
We're hoping that this will better prepare us for the one-day basement apartment and sharing the house with a renter. It's also definitely helping us complete some projects that we might not otherwise get done, or would put off due to the time/cost investment.
What are your thoughts on sharing your space with someone else? Could you do it, or would it be too much? How could you make it work for everyone to provide a better quality of life? What would you learn from each other?
Here's to living and saving green, and spreading that beyond your household!