12 Aug

To Tread a Bit More Lightly

I don’t know if it’s the pendulum swinging in the other direction, or just that I have had environmentalism on my mind lately and so I’m noticing the movement more. Probably the latter. TS&WGH is in the process of buying a new car. (I think this will be his second new car ever, and this one he doesn’t have to share with me if he doesn’t want to.) Purchases like this always get me thinking about what we need and don’t need. I am soooooooooo glad he ultimately chose a Mini over a Magnum. I’m at the point where I’d like my next car to be used and practical, just so that I don’t bring more new things into our overcrowded world. Then I realize that my current car IS used and practical, so really, I probably won’t be in the market for a car until Zavi is 16.

We now have a subscription to READY MADE magazine, and the current issue has instructions for making your own backyard bio diesel pump. I find the idea of running your car off of the oil from the neighborhood fish and chips place really intrigueing. Electric cars are nice, but the electricity still has to come from somewhere, and that’s probably not going to be solar or wind power for a loooooong time. So, the idea of power coming from something that is already there, and that the use of this something is actually reducing the amount of discarded waste is very interesting to me. They say diesel Mercedes sedans make easy conversions. These are ginormous cars though, and I find my current sedan more than big enough. However, being 40 or something, I am inexplicably attracted to wagons. Somewhere in my subconscious, I think a bio diesel Mercedes wagon and a home pump filled by my local falafel house is settling in. I could totally eat enough falafel to fuel a car!

I envy my tree-hugging sister who has done a wonderful job of incorporating earth and human friendly activities into her life. I am more of a creature of habit and convenience. I tried cloth diapers for my first, but was overwhelmed by the second month. We eat pretty well and enjoy fresh foods from the seasonal markets, but I admit to stocking the freezer with fish sticks and pizza as well. I know that I should use my dryer less, but I often wonder if it offers any savings as I then have to iron the clothes dried on the rack. I do walk a lot and I have gotten my bike back out. TS&WGH showed me arial pictures of the community near where he is temporarily living in the US, and it all looks so spread apart. When I told him what I wanted in a community, he admitted that I was already where I needed to be. Apart from vibrant urban areas, I would probably feel isolated and gluttonous living in the US. Recycling here is well integrated into daily life. I now wince when I buy non returnable bottles from the commissary. Luckily, they just get recycled in the city’s twice a month pick up.

Which then brings me to part of my life I think I CAN change for the better. About a month ago, I noticed that my trash can was very full of fabric scraps. This was after I had tossed the moderate sized pieces into my scrap bag for use in other projects. I’m not going to make snippet quilts, so I’ve been contemplating what I can do with all those teensy pieces, and with the soiled and worn out clothes my kids keep growing out of. We donate the pieces that are gently worn, and we accept hand me downs from friends, but what about those items that are at the end of their life? I had an epiphany yesterday. I admit, it was after a trip to IKEA. Yes, the kids and I like a new set of sheets every five to ten years. I bought a cute inflatable hedgehog pillow for the kids (because, at IKEA you can’t just leave with what you came for), but when I got home, I realized that the inflatable insert is sold separately. It was then that I realized that the ratty sheets and towels I had just replaced and some old, stained clothes could be cut into teensy snippets and used to stuff Herr Hedgehog. Better than the inflatable too, because there’s nothing to pop or puncture when the kids inevitably jump on the pillow and generally abuse it. I have vowed to keep my smallest scraps of fabric and batting in a bag and use them as stuffing when appropriate.

I think I am also ready for another quilt related paradigm change. Making art keeps me sane, but it is not necessary for our daily living. It is a selfish act which could stand to have less impact on our lives and maybe even the earth. So, I think I am going to vow not to buy any new fabric for my quilts. I am not quite ready to apply the same rules to clothing and household linens, but I think I could live off of my stash, recycled clothes of our own, and purchases from the local second hand store. of course, I will, sooner or later, need to find a local second hand store! I’m going to need to ponder the ramifications of this, but I think it could work. It would certainly be appropriate given quilting’s make-do history.

I don’t really think that buying local produce, recycling my textiles, returning bottles, or saving energy by drying my laundry in the sun will save the earth, especially when I have already bought my ozone-destroying plane tickets to California in November, but maybe I can attempt to tread a little lighter until the inevitable end.

8 thoughts on “To Tread a Bit More Lightly

  1. Interesting that we have had similar thoughts as we get used to our recycled house in an urban renewal area of our 150 year old city downtown where we can leave the car in the garage and walk to the farmer’s markets and Trader Joe’s among other things. Eugene, OR was named the “greenest” city in the US by someone. We have tons of recycling and second hand shops. Alternative transportation is alive and well here with many types of two and three-wheeled conveyances. As with you, I know I am still a consumer of the Earth’s resources, but I hope our simple lifestyle will help slow the rate a bit.

  2. Here, here family. So does this mean that as I continue to offer modest homemade christmas presents wrapped in inside out Trader Joes bags, I won’t be teased? I also have scraps ready to use as stuffing – wool bits unfit to spin into yarn. And I am all about the french fry autos but actually test drove the Prius Hybrid and loved it. — Tree Hugging Sister

  3. I feel you on the dilemma on what´s feasible and what not…
    and what do you know.. I´m not sure you´ll be able to happily live in the US ever again.. smile… but having known you for about 5 years now (wow- had to think about that one for a sec.. lol) I know you´ll be able to pull it off anyways!
    My parent´s volvos all have had their treat of bio diesel – they even have their favorite gasstation somewhere in Tuscany where they have a rabbit sign out for their bio diesel – my gene donors have been referring to it as rabbit diesel ever since. They just bought a new volvo and again – it´s a diesel.. not sure if it has had the pleasure of running on Raps Diesel (most local bio diesels here are not made of falafel although I am sure my contribution would be enormous as well.. haha) but I am positive it will!
    I just sent my oldest son to the goodwill deposit container to drop off the clothes he outgrew in the last year (which are pretty much ALL of his clothes.. lol) and the next kid in line for them in our house has a good 10 – 13 years until he fits in those. I did ponder keeping them for a minute or so though 😀
    Now if I could get myself to not stuff our refrigerator with things we might need within the next half year or so it would be a major achievement energy wise. I´m already driving a car that gives me great mileage but DHs CRV is far from that. Who invented SUV´s? I hope we can make a more earth friendly decision for the next car.. but no, it won´t be a Mini because Rafael wouldn´t fit in it! lol.. Maybe by that time there´ll be more cars like the Prius out. Meanwhile we opt to teach our kids to use public transportation, remind them to recycle and not to heat the room on full blast when the windows are open.. smile.. hope that´ll do for now 😀

  4. We try to do some of the things you mentioned like thrift stores and recycling. Our biggest waste is gas but as we live ten miles from town on roads that get a lot of snow in winter, a small car like a Mini is just not feasible. We had one when we lived in the city but had to go to something bigger out here. I think if everyone does a bit it must add up in the long run and even if it doesn’t, at least you feel better about yourself for trying.

  5. A little bit here and a little bit there, setting a good exanple – who knows, maybe we can make a difference. It is better than not giving a damn or waiting for the inevitable without even trying.

  6. Got any suggsestions on what to do with fabric bits that have fusible web left on them? I took a bunch of fat eights to the dye cut machine today and went at it but am left with weird scraps… Don’t think they’d make good stuffing with the web on there…?????

  7. This entry is very similar to many I have been writing lately. I have also been wondering what to do with the tiny fabric scraps and I feel very guilty whenever I buy something that can’t be recycled. My city doesn’t have curbside recycling in place yet even though a large portion of the rest of the country does – it is very frustrating. Thanks for the idea about the tiny scraps. I’m going to save all of mine now too.

  8. Pingback: Musings: Kristin La Flamme » Blog Archive » I actually bought NEW fabric today

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