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Asked to Explain Sustainability

October 22nd, 2010 at 09:35 am

I call myself The Frugal Artisan, determined to provide good quality original design at inexpensive prices. But my frugal ethic is more than just about quality and price. It's a personality trait in my everyday life.

* What's for dinner?
Easy on the meat which uses multiple times the environmental resources (such as land space, water, and feed) to produce than grain diets. And heavy on the local fruits and vegetables which are not transported with fuels or grown with chemicals and are hopefully not even in a package! Perhaps better, I reach for a healthy serving of my own backyard farm foods.

* Time for a new sweater?
The thrift store offers hardly worn choices already on the market in more colors, shapes, and sizes than any place else. Support to the non-profits is a nice secondary benefit, as is the affordable cost.

* Cradle-to-Grave
Before I pick up that plastic sandwich bag, I think of where it will end up. Trash? Better to pack lunch in reusable containers, which can be recycled when they wear out in a few years. (I also think of where it came from, um, can you say fossil fuels?)

* Getting there to here
I'm fortunate to live near a grocery, or perhaps it was a semi-conscious decision in choosing a home location. I don't even think about driving to the nearby store! Bike riding and walking are ingrained for anything within a mile. Once a bus rider, always a bus rider. When gas went up to $4.50 a gallon I took the bus to work. I'll never go back to driving (except this year ARGH). Next year it is back to the bus to get to work.

* Just one more
Recently I discovered an online book trading group, requesting used books from others and sending those I am finished with. Some of you already belong to Paper Back Swap. Smart!

And so it goes with nearly everything I touch and do in everyday life.

Were not it better that humans were more like plants! The life cycle of a plant in the presence of water/sun/soil is truly the definition of sustainable. Plants ingeniously make oxygen (we still do not know exactly how). But, sorry, but by virtue of our physical arrangement, humans use stuff and make waste. All of us can however, make choices big and small leaving only a tiny footprint of consumption and waste. Our grandparents never heard the word recycle, and now our kids do it without a second thought. Next step? Set a living example, and advocate that all, poor and wealthy, think ahead to the Seventh Generation.

My work includes all these elements; reuse of materials already produced, reduced impact on natural resources, and a long life which does not end in the round file! The good quality original design at inexpensive prices is just the beginning.



6 Responses to “Asked to Explain Sustainability”

  1. MonkeyMama Says:

    " (I also think of where it came from, um, can you say fossil fuels?)"

    I think this part is often overlooked. You don't know how many people snidely told me that "Washing cloth diapers was WAY worse for the environment." Excuse me? Washing 80 diapers every week is worse than buying as many manufactured/packaged diapers, every single week, 3+ years per kid? I don't buy it! I just find it hard to believe *washing* 80 diapers every week was a bigger environmental impact than *manufacturing* as many. (This doesn't even get into the whole landfill thing - realizing all those dirty diapers have to go somewhere when they are done being used).

    Of course, I think most everybody has room to improve when it comes to the ideas above. Good stuff to chew on.

  2. miclason Says:

    Monkey Mama, also note that kids in cloth diapers tend to be potty trained faster than kids in disposables. Probably because with all the new "technology" that keeps the wetness away, they are not as uncomfy!

  3. MonkeyMama Says:

    Misclason - VERY true. There are probably a handful of reasons why they are much more eco friendly - I could have gone on all day. Wink Shaving a year or 2 off wearing diapers (& cutting down on the accident factor past diaper age) is a biggie. VERY eco friendly.

  4. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    The tip I remember when mine were in diapers, was that:

    Cloth diapers have a higher environmental impact where water is scarce (southern california for example).

    I chose cloth for my first with a few disposable for outings. I used those diapers for a million things so many times even after they weren't worn!! However, my second was a preemie and the tiny sized cloth ones soaked extremely often (sometimes several times in an hour). She also had way more sensitive skin and got a rash when wet for any length of time over a quarter hour. So it was disposable for her.

    Thnks for the chat ladies.

  5. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    merriam-webster.com says the word "recycle" was first used in 1926, so I think my grandmother did hear the word. And she certainly did recycle, too. Think of all the recycling drives of the 1940's! Tires, grease & fat, iron & steel, wool & cotton. Used to be beverages were always in returnable bottles: milk, soda, beer. My own mother got her first living room carpet in the 1950's by collecting old wool clothing, mailing it to a rug manufacturer with a payment, and receiving back a rug made from wool scrap. She said it was a great rug. This was not unusual.

    But besides recycling where one sent away stuff to some distant factory, the generations before us were accustomed re-using, and remaking many things. An old leather glove or belt might become washers for a bolt. A wooden crate might become drawers for a chest, while metal jar lids or wooden thread spools became the drawer pulls. An old inner tube would be a source for patches for the next inner tube. Some pieces of the inner tube might be cut up to make rubber bands. An old dress became a new apron plus a sunsuit for the toddler, the zipper from the old skirt was re-used for the new skirt, on and on.

    My garage was built from the wood scraps salvaged from crates shipped to an airplane builder in my town--I think that was in the 1930's. Cool, huh? I know of another garage that was built from the decorative limestone goofed by the stone masons --so it is full of amazing ornamental pieces.

    The previous generations were not always angels about how they treated the environment, but they would have many things --interesting things, even-- to teach us.

  6. Jerry Says:

    We told a friend recently that our daughter's beautiful new coat was purchased for about a dollar at a second hand store, and you would have thought we said that we were selling her at auction! She is, if I may say, one of the best-dressed kids at her school, and we spend almost nothing on clothes. It only takes a mama and papa with sharp eyes for quality stuff (which our kid has), and no aversion to wearing something that someone may - or may not - have worn before. My wife and I also get a lot of lovely clothes there. Frankly, I'd rather have some insurance that I can use the money for other things. You are absolutely correct, there is a lot to learn from other generations.
    Jerry

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