Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Green Files...Is less really more? Food for thought...

Yesterday I was reading an article in my newest Sunset magazine. Being a bit of a greenie the title immediately sparked my interest. The Zero Waste Home is about a family in Northern California who has taken being green to a pretty intense degree. Reading this article really got me to thinking about how I live and if I could live like they do, and the answer is absolutely not.
What they have done is amazing. They have managed to produce almost no trash in a years time. Even their recycling pile is next to nothing. They have gone so far as to purge many of their belongings, even family heirlooms that have sentimental value. They each have only a certain number of clothing pieces per family member and all of their food is stored in glass jars, even meat and cheese.
I envy their dedication to bettering their little corner of the planet. I wish I was as hard core. I certainly took things away from this article that I can try, and I can improve my way of doing things. For instance, despite the fact that I recycle most things, the recycling pile is quite large sometimes. I too store food in glass jars from Ikea but I don't take the glass jars with me to the store to fill... I will say that I have thought about it.
The thing about the article that disturbed me was the lack of personality and warmth in their home. I have stuff. I have stuff that I could probably do without but having a picture of a teacup that was my grandmothers vs. having the actual teacup doesn't really do it for me. My stuff makes me feel good, seeing a piece of art that my sister made, or a card that a friend sent me, or a souvenir I got in a foreign country makes me feel good. Oh, and I have hobbies, many of them in fact. I need stuff to do those hobbies with, and they fulfill me! The family in the article limits the amount of stuff they are each allowed to have to the point that I wonder what the hell they do with themselves when they are home. Do they sit around and stare at each other?
It got me to thinking, am I a bad greenie because I like my stuff, my junk and my memorabilia? No, I'm not. Everyone is different and has a different way of doing things. Am I doing my best to be as green as I can be? Probably not, but I know I can't be as green as the family is the article is. I have gotten a lot better about owning stuff that doesn't have meaning to me. Sometimes it's hard because I can't resist a bargain or something free. But really, do I need another free water bottle with some logo on it? No, I don't. For me to buy a piece of clothing, or something for my house, it has to be beautiful, or make me feel good, or have a useful purpose.
(Oh, and I'm sitting here watching my neighbor haul boxes and boxes of bottled water into his house. I want to go outside and give him a piece of my mind about how bad that is for the environment)
I guess my point is that we all have a threshold or a limit to what we can and are willing to do. Now, this doesn't mean that you should give up and take the easy route. Take a second though and look at an extreme situation and see if there is anything you can take and learn from it. Here is the article... please give it a read...

Here are a few excerpts...

Packaging in the pantry: The Johnsons go to the grocery store with their own jars and buy bulk snacks and other pantry supplies. “Some of the kids’ friends came over recently and said, ‘You have no food here,’ ” says Béa. “They didn’t recognize this as food since there weren’t any boxes.”

Packaging in the fridge: The family shops with glass jars, fabric bags, and canvas totes, and returns containers for a deposit. Even cheese and meat go in jars. Cheese is purchased when it is cut, to avoid plastic wrap.

Packaging in the freezer: Béa buys loaves of bread by the dozen from her grocer, carrying them in a pillowcase, which she then transfers to her freezer.

Cluttered drawers: Cooking equipment is kept to a minimum and is multipurpose, like a cheese grater dou­-bling as a zester. Paper towels: Clean up is done with microfiber cloths. “People are really attached to paper towels,” Béa says. “But they’re the easiest thing to give up.” Try it

The natural-foods aisle is great for dry-good staples and refillable shampoo, conditioner, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.

To use glass jars, ensure that your store has a scale to measure their tare (empty) weight.

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