Friday, April 22, 2016

every day should be Earth Day!

What a good day to reexamine how we're living and the impact we have on the Earth! 

The changes I've made this year have become more routine and take less effort to stick with these days. I won't say I've been perfect at not buying anything with packaging that can't be either composted, reused or recycled, but the amount of trash I produce is still down considerably! (And it was pretty minimal to begin with.) Most grocery shopping trips result in no trash at all, but there are a few items I haven't been able to get in either bulk or with completely earth-friendly packaging. Mostly, I just skip buying those items, but once in awhile I do pick up something in plastic. It's about progress, not perfection. :-) The great thing is that zero waste seems to be getting more and more popular with a wider range of people. I'm hoping this is a trend that continues. More people demanding less packaging can only result in more options for all of us.

My efforts to only shop secondhand have been going well too! My first urge now is to look for a secondhand item whenever I need something or if that fails, to figure out a workaround with something I already have on hand until I can find it secondhand (if I still think I need it). It's funny, if you wait long enough, you'll see just about everything go through the thrift store! Garage sale season is upon us as well so there are deals to be had! Maybe I'll finally find a good used toaster oven... I did finally find my wished-for cherry pitter! :-) I'm now well prepared for the summer harvests. 

I'm watching my own plants come to life and even have a few green strawberries already in my new little patch and the gooseberry bush I planted last year has quite a few teeny berries forming! I'll have to fence off the black raspberry canes before they start producing so Gus and Reilly don't eat them all this year. ;-) I have two tiny mulberry trees being delivered later today. How's that for timing?! They'll be tiny so I think I'll pot them this year then maybe plant them out front next summer. We'll see. They're supposed to be a great way to keep birds and squirrels away from other garden plants and trees, though I'll admit I bought them more for me. lol With the temps rising here, I've been bringing along a doggie water bottle for Gus. Reilly loves the heat, but Gus is more like me and overheats more easily. I've been making sure we end our walks in the park near the blueberry bush Gus discovered last summer so I can empty whatever water is left in the bottle near the bush. Summers are hot and dry here so any extra moisture will be happily soaked up and hopefully result in a little better blueberry crop this year. I might need a bigger water bottle...

So, I'll be planting a couple trees (and watering a wild blueberry bush) on Earth Day. Do you have any earth-friendly plans?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

how to be alive

This was a really good read! I first became aware of Colin Beavan after watching No Impact Man a few years ago. I definitely wanted to read How to Be Alive when it came out. I keep meaning to borrow the book about his experiences trying to live a year with as little environmental impact as possible, but the documentary was really interesting and I highly recommend it! Sure, there were moments I questioned his sanity (as did his wife) and I'll admit I thought he was cheating a bit when he started getting ice from his neighbor to avoid using his refrigerator/freezer after his failed attempt at a DIY, non-powered solution for food preservation, but I really do admire his efforts to have less of a negative impact.

After that experience, he realized how much his daily decisions impacted not only his own life, but the world. Rather than challenging people to have no impact, a huge undertaking for anyone, this book puts more emphasis on each of us making smaller changes we can sustain. Colin discusses how being more true to ourselves and our own beliefs and passions can also have positive impact on others and our environment, but also urges us to focus on what we can do ourselves and not as much on the bigger picture in order to keep ourselves from feeling paralyzed by the size of the problems and doing nothing. Not being able to change everything shouldn't stop us from making changes we know are right.

The thing is, if you worry about the gigantic machine instead of fixing the small cog, nothing at all gets done. When your concern ranges beyond the things you can control, your influence shrinks to zero. (How to Be Alive, p76)

I've made a lot of changes to how I do things. Yes, there's more I could be doing. That doesn't mean what I am doing has no positive impact. I pretty routinely reexamine the choices I've made to determine if I'm ready to make more changes. One thing I'm beginning to feel a lot more pull toward is going car-free. I'm not quite ready for that change, but I'm getting closer.

from How to Be Alive
Yes, intellectually and in my heart, I know not owning a vehicle is better in many ways. First, of course, would be the health benefits of more walking and riding my bike. Not having a car would also mean less financial cost to me. A bus pass would run me $540/year max, though I'm pretty sure I could shave another $100 off that cost by using daily passes a couple times a week instead of a monthly pass since I work from home. But even the max out of pocket? Still less than my vehicle insurance alone. Not to mention gas, regular maintenance, any repairs needed and heaven forbid I get in an accident and have a deductible to pay on top of that. Then there's the environmental impact of driving personal vehicles. Sure, my Jeep doesn't spend nearly as much time on the road as most cars, but it still pollutes more than if I rode the bus or my bike. It's size does come in handy at times... like when I bought fruit trees for my yard. But how often does that need arise? It's not like I'll be putting in any more trees in my teeny yard. The home improvement store even rents trucks at reasonable daily rates to haul anything I'd need for my home. And in these days of Uber and Lyft, getting a quick ride door to door isn't hard to come by even if a willing friend isn't available. So many options!

So what's stopping me? Convenience. The ability to hop in my Jeep and run across town on my own schedule without waiting for a bus. Planting more food-producing plants in my own yard will help cut back on my weekly trips to the local farms to pick produce in Summer and Fall. Expanding my own garden and shopping more from the co-op (same produce, less commute) could replace those trips. I'm honestly really thinking about the possibilities. This has been a very expensive vehicle year which is certainly helping push me in that direction. Multiple repairs and then a fender bender thanks to another driver chatting away on her cell phone rather than paying attention to driving and nearly running down a pedestrian have added up quickly this year. And I still need to replace my tires too. I put away money every month and can cover the expenses, but life would sure be nice without those added bills! For now, the Jeep stays... Next year, we'll see.

What changes have you made? What have you been thinking of changing? What's stopping you?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

March craftiness

We're halfway through April now, but it's not too late for a crafty update for March, right?

I slacked a bit on the knit poncho, not keeping up with knitting a full repeat a day as I'd started out doing in February. I've made some progress, but it's not nearly as close to being completed as I'd expected.

Lace Cotton Ponchette, pattern by windloop

Remember the fiber I found at the thrift store? It's now yarn!

638 yds, 249 grams
I love how this turned out! I used about 4 ounces of undyed BFL from my stash as the second ply to stretch the yardage. I love spinning big skeins so I have more options when I decide to make the handspun into something. I've actually finished a project with this skein already, but more on that later.

I also did a bit of sewing last month. Since I've cracked the code to finding the best secondhand deals, I've been picking up some items to disassemble and make into new items. Such fun! I've found some nice cotton men's shirts and had a few ideas floating around in my head I wanted to try out:

A thrifted cotton shirt & wool skirt and a yard of organic cotton from my fabric stash became a nice tote bag and drawstring project bag. =)

A wool suit jacket, cotton shirt, polyester tie & snaps were all thrift store finds and became a nice little project bag! Plenty of extras leftover for more projects too. 
The boys all hung out with me in the craft room while I sewed. I think they're enjoying their new bed. Notice, Phoebe is absent. lol She chose to sleep in the small bed on the antique sewing machine alone rather than pile in with everyone else.

It's not just eco-friendly to shop secondhand, it's a whole lot of fun too! =)