Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ka-runchy Mama

Jenny Gniadecki, who I had the privilege of meeting at a VA industry conference a few years ago, recently asked, "How are you a crunchy mama?"

I started typing the reply below in her comment box, then realized I needed to just blog it.

(a) it was getting ridiculously long for a comment
(b) I need all the blog fodder I can find

I am a little crunchy, but not much.

--I've started seeking out hormone-free milk and eggs. I don't like the word games food labels play "No Artificial Hormones" means they can still add all the darn extra natural hormones they want to the food. So I'm going hormone-free on the two products most likely to have hormones added that we consume most heavily, particularly the girlchild.

--I recycle. A lot. Glass, plastic, paper, aluminum... I keep a bin on each floor, one in my office and one in the kitchen so no one has to walk too far to recycle stuff (probably since I know some members of our household will NOT walk far to recycle, lol).

I love this picture! It's somewhere in Europe and there are bins for (L-R)
Paper, Plastic, Glass, Metal, Organic Matter, and Batteries.
The ugly grey one on the end is for cigarette butts.

--I buy green dish soap for the dishwasher. Yes, not using the dishwasher would be greener, but that is just not going to happen. So I buy the soaps that promise a smaller impact when they wash down my drain.

--I buy many of our clothes at thrift and consignment stores. Well, Me & J's clothes anyway. Hers because I can't bring myself to spend $20 on a shirt she'll outgrow in 4 months and mine because I still have delusions of losing weight and it's okay to buy more fat clothes if they aren't new fat clothes. That and fat clothes are ridiculously more expensive for what amounts, often times, to less than a 1/2 yard of fabric more--totally unfair!

--I buy brown (unbleached) coffee filters. I know, it's a stretch, but I'm trying.

--I used cloth diapers with my kids. Not exclusively, cuz I couldn't handle carrying the leftovers around in public and hoping the ziploc didn't leak, but I did use 'em. The baby in the fam is 8 now, so this no longer applies.

In many ways I am ~less~ crunchy than I was when I was younger.

Sometimes this makes me sad, sometimes it makes me feel practical; depends on which side of the coin is up after the flip.

- I used to cut my hair and the kiddo's until the entire family begged me to stop. I'm being literal here--Raidman begged and my other relatives, in desperation, got me a decrepit 70's book called, "The Guide to Home Haircutting." If you're interested I have it on my paperback swap page, lol.

- I used to compost, then the rats moved in. I'm in the burbs near a cow pasture and it's an open compost pile cuz no one told me that open compost here is different than at my old house in the city proper where all we had was squirrels.

Weird, right? I'd have expected rats in town but it's been the other way round. Still have the pile, but won't go near it cuz of the rodents. This one, incidentally, still fills me with guilt. Composting is so simple anyone can do it, and I FAILED. And I hate throwing away food trash.

I was a bad composter, though, possibly the origin of my rat trouble. I figured compost was supposed to be an artificial duplicate of the rich loam and rot from a forest floor, right? Which will occasionally include dead animals, right? I was not too particular about making sure protein scraps/fats didn't go in the compost--baked potato skins with butter & sour cream debris? Sure! Why not!

THe ginormous colony of rodents that moved in under the shed immediately adjacent to the compost bin (another egregious error I realize in hindsight) is the visual aid answer to the, "Why not?" above.

- I use a pest control company. But, I use their organic product/service plan. Do I get, like, half credit?

-I use a clothes dryer. I have hung 3 different clotheslines in our backyard in the nine years we've lived in this house and every one has been a disappointment. The retractable one didn't, the plain one lost tension all the time, etc. Hanging large items like comforters over the open railing on the 2nd floor is more practical than any of the clothes lines I've tried. Sad really, I miss the smell of clothes dried outside.


Jennifer said...

I think that's an awesome list, and hell yes you get half credit for anything you want.

It was a great read, thanks so much for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

I think clotheslines are a bit dubious, and here's why:

If you've ever seen something that has had part of it in the sun for a while, and part not, you know that given time, sunlight is better at bleaching than Clorox.

Assuming you wear and wash your clothes regularly, and that they hang on the line for at least several hours, you're going to end up with faded colors very quickly. The darker the color, particularly if it's cotton, the quicker it's going to look like you've been wearing it since Truman was in office. Solid whites, of course, won't bleach out, though my experience is that the fibers break down as well. (That's the same reason I don't use fabric softener - the only way to "soften" it is to break down the fiber's integrity.)

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't go out in public wearing clothes that look like I couldn't care less about my appearance. I wouldn't think of going to a business meeting in clothes that were faded and beginning to fray - it would convey to my clientèle that I don't care about the appearance or quality of anything, including the work I do for them.

I think the extra life you get out of your clothes from drying them indoors offsets any negatives it produces. I would suggest that items dried in the dryer last at least three if not four or more times longer than those allowed to fade on the clothesline. (I have frequently-worn clothes that I bought in high school that still look like they did when I bought them.) Given that you don't run the dryer to dry one item at a time but rather a whole load of clothes, for the clothesline to really be saving the planet, the cost to the planet of running the dryer per item over the item's lifespan would have to be greater than the cost to the planet of replacing the item two, three, or more times. (That would include the damage done while producing, packaging, transporting, stocking, selling, and purchasing the item three to four times instead of once.)

I'm all for green activities, and I do what I can. I don't fault anyone for trying to do their part - I blame the "green" experts for preaching what is "green" at your door without thinking about what effects it is producing up the pipe. It's great to save the planet at home, but is it worth doing ten times the damage upstream?

3rd Wave Inc said...

Organic products are essentially earth-friendly, sustainable and natural, not only in its entity but in production mode. Which makes safer and healthier.