It’s so Easy Being Green

Since I know a lot of people who are or wish to get into crafting, I figured I’d pass along Lupa’s handy guide to shipping green. I don’t think most of the people who read this blog will need to know everything here, but you never know.

I admit, I don’t plan out my shopping list for Whole Paycheque, nor do I let the presence or absence of a “Go Green!” logo dictate what I buy — in fact, I’m convinced the overwhelming majority of it all is a scam of some variety, and looking at the differences in price alone between Regular Bag o’ Beans and Organic Veganic Bag o’ Beans, I think there’s more money in this latest incarnation of the “Go Green!” fad than a lot of the people buying it all are willing to admit.

Still, there’s a point where I just think it makes a lot more sense to do little things that will reduce the carbon footprint — just little, miniscule lifestyle changes that will make a big impact on the planet, over the long run. So, here’s my advice to urban polytheists who may not have considered them in the pressures from the greater pagan & polytheist co0mmunities to “go green”:

*cook from scratch, whenever possible. If you need some tips or advice, watch some episodes of Alton Brown’s Good Eats. I love his show for a lot of reasons (primarily the concept of “Julia Child meets Bill Nye the Science Guy”), and one of them is that most of the foods he cooks on the show are familiar, “classic” Western/North Amerikan foods made from scratch. He explains just how cheap and easy it is — most things take no more than 45minutes — and he makes it clear when pre-prepared ingredients (like canned tomato sauce, for example) are just fine. His episode on canning and preserving is a must-watch. The gratan on his Potatoes episode can be easily prepared in front of the television. He also stresses exactly what tools and appliances you will need for a task, which ones have superfluous (and pretty much useless) features, and how nearly everything in your kitchen should be a multi-tasker, except the fire extinguisher — this saves money, storage space in your kitchen, and saves space in landfills, should something ever break or break down beyond repair.

I really don’t want to guilt-trip people who don’t regularly have the time, but if you find cooking from a recipe enjoyable, it’s totally worth setting aside an hour on your days off to cook a meal from scratch. You’ll be avoiding all the excess packaging from convenience foods, and it’ll probably taste better, too.

*especially if you have a “container garden” (indoors or out), try composting. I’ve recently seen small “composting containers” at Target, designed to go under the sink, but I just use an old bucket that cat litter came in.

*repair things before buying new. Sometimes, it’s just far more cost-effective to get a new thing, I admit, but clothes can be mended, even attractively so, a plate can (usually) be pieced back together with non-toxic glue, and your computer probably isn’t “broken” but full of spyware and minor vira that you can get rid of (and prevent) with proper software (that doesn’t even have to cost you a penny — I recommend Avast). If you build your own computer (and no, I don’t mean by selecting options from the Dell or Gateway website), you can replace each individual component as it needs it — but if you buy something off the shelf or one of those all-in-one-piece jobs from Apple that looks pretty, you’ll probably have to sink another couple thou into a whole new machine, even though it’s just the DVD-RW drive that’s broken. I’m also really tired of seeing people who replace things that are still in perfect working order. I’ve taken to darning socks and patching my jeans in front of the television over the last few months — yes, eventually, something is going to be beyond repair, but I figure that a card of darning needles and a spool 300yds of thick cotton thread cost $5, two of which will last you a lifetime, and a pair of socks can be mended with maybe a yard. A new six-pack of crew socks costs $7 — and if you go through socks like I do, you’d be replacing that once or twice a year; I don’t know about you, but that’s $14 a year I’d rather use on other things.

A lot of this just seems pretty no-brainer to me, cos I grew up with it, but it honestly surprises me how much people admit to me that it never crosses their minds to do simple things like repair those Fair Trade Organic Cotton socks instead of replace them — probably because they grew up in a nuclear family culture where everything is replaceable, and a “lifestyle” can be easily purchased for $19.95.

While I get that some people honestly don’t have time, I also get that others are simply using “I don’t have the time” as shorthand for “I’m going to watch telly for six hours straight and not do anything else, cos I really can’t be arsed to!” I get that some people are disabled, I get that some people need an hour or so to just unwind and not do anything else — but I also get that some people are just lazy and think buying things can make them a better person without doing anything else.


5 thoughts on “It’s so Easy Being Green

  1. I agree with every single thing you just said here. That said, while I also cook a lot of stuff from scratch these days, garden (and compost), and mend my clothes (including darning my socks), I am not at all amazed to find that most people these days don't have ANY of these skills. Because a lot of my friends are pagan/vegetarian/environmentally conscious, a somewhat higher percentage of them than usual have these life skills, but I remember how shocked I was at the age of 12 when none of the girls in my 7th grade class knew how to mend a simple seam besides me. These days, it's even worse; not only can the average Joe off the street not sew or garden, most of them can't even cook a meal unless it comes out of a can (Ravioli) or a freezer (microwave whatever). I can crochet, quilt, make candles, make jewelry, make an entire meal out of foods collected from the while, put together a bookcase from lumber and nails, dig a ditch, hoe weeds, compost food scraps, mend torn clothes, etc etc etc ad nauseum. Why isn't anyone taught these skills any more? Have schools completely done away with shop class and home ec? It's maddening.


    • Well, at least by the time I was in high school, high schools in rural Michigan, at least, were doing Home Ec and Shop — and at least a semester of Foods & Sewing 1 was mandatory for both boys and girls (as was a semester of Child Development — but I figured that was cos by the Senior year, half the girls had dropped out due to pregnancy). The Home Ec classes really didn't teach me anything I didn't already know, but I was just floored that in a rural area that even most of the girls didn't know how to cook scrambled eggs — but maybe that's just me and my metropolitan assumptions? [eyeroll]


  2. The concept of darning socks is easy, but it takes a while to get to a point where it looks attractive. The basic idea is to take a length of thread and weave it into a thatch to fill the hole. If you know embroidery terms, i start with a loose satin stitch going one way over the hole, and then I weave the needle and thread the other way — like a mini sort of loom. I also don't use knots, I just leave a little under a centimetre hanging from each end — my grandmother used to make knots in darned socks, and it always irritated my feet; if the cotton you get is *not* pre-shrunk (it really shouldn't be, but check), then it should tighten up the weave after the first wash, and you shouldn't need knots.

    To stabilise the weave, a 2oz shot glass can help help (and if you have at least one hanging around, then no more money out-of-pocket), but if you can usually find a gently used wooden darning egg on eBay for about $5-$7, after shipping (I have an old 1950s-ish English Bakelite darning mushroom that I managed to find for under $10 on eBay, you typically won't find one for under $40, though). If you don't have a shot glass and don't have the money for an extra cheap one (I know it happens), you can pull the sock over your other hand to stabilise the weave


  3. Great post. My socks used to have the most ugly mends, but is very better now. I like to use chinese slippers, but in few months something will rip then when you is walking in the street. I started to customize them after the rips, using crochet flowers or quilting over them, and is so good, I'm starting to do the same in my sneakers.

    About PCs, I really agree and recommend build your own machine. Not only because you don't need replace the entire thing if something stupid is broken, but because you can avoid the waste of something you don't need, making a configuration appropriate for your needs.

    And about having time, in a good parcel, is all a matter of organizing time.


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