I was contacted by a member of the design team at businessdegree.net with this graphic. It has some interesting statistics to think about next time you are about to trash something.
Created by: BusinessDegree.net
This morning I had an interesting conversation with my 19 year old son and his friend. We talked about the Wall Street protests and how messed up the world economy is. I feel so sorry for the despair I heard from them: how they felt there was nothing they could do, how our political system is doing nothing because it’s so tied into the financial sector, how maybe having children in times like these is a bad idea.
Such heavy topics for teenagers to have to think about, yet how good it is they are aware and are considering what actions may be possible. Maybe going to the Occupy Vancouver protest this weekend might offer some ideas and insights? One of their friends is heading there, perhaps go with him? What other possibilities are there to “do something about it”?
All I could do was offer my perspective which is this: Our planet cannot withstand our continual use of resources without putting an equally usable amount back into the earth. In other words zero waste. Unfortunately human greed has resulted in unchecked consumerism, and therefore extreme waste. There is good news though!
Each one of us has the ability to become a responsible consumer, one who considers how the items we are purchasing affect the planet both in their manufacture and at the end of their usability. We can ask ourselves questions like is this made of eco-friendly materials? Is the product and/or packaging recyclable? Do I really need this? Will it compost when I’m done with it? At first this may seem like a minor, passive action. However, if every one of us did this it becomes a massive action. We can take control of our own ecological footprint. We can control how manufacturers produce goods. We can do it!
I just love it when sticky situations end with positive results! Our daughter is 16 and started school this September for the first time. I completely understand the reasons why she wants the new experience of school. Almost all her long time friends started out as homeschoolers, and most of them are now attending one of the two local high schools.
As long time homeschoolers, we have always supported our kids in whatever endevours they wish to pursue. We have many reasons as to why we decided not to put our kids in school, one of which was that the necessity to conform while attending school squashes the ability to think “outside the box”. I don’t blame the school system for this, as I appreciate the need to cater to a large number of students cannot be met without conformity to “the rules”.
Before the last school year ended my daughter and I met with the high school counsellor and principal. We discussed how she could best meet graduation requirements utilizing the courses available there in conjuction with the online courses she was already working on. It was agreed she could take the school bus in the morning, attend whatever classes were available that she needed for credit, work independently on the library computers in any free blocks, then take the school bus home.
Come the first day of school in September, she called home to say when she tried to use the internet the librarian said she needed an access code from the counsellor or principal. When she went to the office to straighten things out she was told she wasn’t allowed to be in the school or on the grounds unless she was in class. No library, no bathroom, no cafeteria, AND no school bus! I was not impressed.
I left a message for the principal at 9am the following week (I needed a cool down period). He called me back at 11am and I calmly explained how dissappointing it was to have a couple of highly motivated students (a friend was in the same predicament) who want to learn and integrate into the high school, who were originally told they would be accomodated, and now were being told “no”. I suggested perhaps a contract could be signed outlining a mutually acceptible agreement allowing them to use the library internet in free blocks, ride the school bus, and have access to school amentities within the boundaries of the agreement. He said he would look into it and get back to me.
To my pleasure, he called me back at 4pm the same day and read me an agreement allowing all of the above! It is so great when obstacles arise, potential solutions are discussed, and swift resolution is attained. Yay!
It’s an amazing time of the year when all gardener’s hard work comes to fruition in the the form of food! I can’t describe how thankful I am that we have an acreage with plentiful enough land to be able to expand our garden year after year. Keeping up with the weeds, the slugs, and (yay!) the harvest is ever challenging. We are blessed with good friends and neighbours who have farmed their land for years and so are a wealth of expertise and knowledge of which they are always willing to share.
We’ve been growing a strain of garlic for 3 years running now and with fabulous success. It originally came from our friends at Gidora’s Garden who live a half hour up the highway from us. The strain was produced by them and is called Kostyn’s Red Russian. They grow thousands of garlic plants in addition to multitudes of fruit and vegetables and have chickens as well. If you would like to know more about them check out their blogsite at http://gidorasgarden.com/ . They are truly stewards of the land.
Here on our homestead we are constantly working toward being as self-sustaining as possible. We grow as much food as we can, have a horse for manure for our garden, prepare and preserve our own wholesome foods, and of course run our home-based business. There is always a plethora of projects for home, garden, and business which need doing and I’ve come to realize that is just the way life is. When I look around at the beauty and abundance of food growing in our garden, I know we are very lucky to actually have so many projects which need doing!
I love this messy life, where everything and nothing is getting done. So long as we are always doing things in our garden, our home, and our business which are practical, sustainable, and good for the earth, then hey, it’s all good!
As I mentioned last time, dryer lint really irritates me. I realize this might seem strange, but it’s true. It’s just such a waste of fibres, and I know our clothes are that much thinner than before they were dried. I checked around the web to see if there were any new ideas out there about this phenomenon. Following are my favorites…
Dryer lint is very flammable which is another good reason to clean out your trap every time you use the dryer. Also remember to clean your dryer ducting and vent regularly. Since it’s so flammable it’s a good fire starter. One neat idea is to stuff it in toilet paper tubes or in divided egg cartons and put some candle wax shavings (from your spent candles) in. It apparently works great. Last year we tried it without the candle wax with mediocre results. I imagine the wax would make a huge difference. With woodstove season coming up we’ll be giving it a try soon. I really like this idea because it’s using 3 “waste” items for a very useful purpose – heat!
Here’s a really fun one: with your dark coloured lint, use it to create “moss” on your Halloween tombstones and other decorations. For the very industrious people out there: I saw several folks talking about carding, spinning, and finally knitting or weaving the lint fibres. My hat goes off to you!
I’ve decided to keep an empty ice cream bucket with lid labelled “dryer fluff” by the dryer. I’m saving all our lint to use in the garden. If you only dry natural fibres then you can simply compost your lint. Most of our lint is natural fibres, but a small percentage is synthetic fibres. Because of this I’m going to use our lint on the pathways in our garden to help keep the grass and weeds down. This may take me a hundred years, but at least the lint is serving a useful purpose!
When we were living in our tiny cabin and I was washing laundry in the bathtub (see http://www.hankettes.com/blog/2012/01/how-do-you-wash-your-laundry/) we had a woodstove for heat. We created hanging racks by taking apart clothes hangers and attaching them to the ceiling over and near the woodstove. Hmmm… what is possibly wrong with this picture? First of all even with all the wrist wrenching wringing I could manage, the laundry was still very drippy. It got VERY humid in our cabin on laundry day. Second, if you’re not super careful with your laundry hanging, it can fall (on the woodstove). I do not recommend hanging your laundry over or very near your woodstove.
How about using a clothes dryer instead? I have a love-hate relationship with my clothes dryer. I love the convenience but hate the draw on electricity. I love that our laundry comes out “fluffy” but hate all that lint in the lint trap. Every time I clean that stupid trap out I think ”this is wearing out the fibres more quickly” and also “what a waste of fibre”.
So, what to do? You can take care of all of it except the fluffy factor by simply not using the dryer. Hang your laundry outside on the line. Install indoor lines for when it’s too cold outside. Here is a great resource to see all kinds of indoor line dryers: http://www.tiptheplanet.com/index.php?title=Air_dry_washing.
According to Mr. Electricity at http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/howmuch.html the average dryer uses about 4.4kwh. I figured out for our six one hour drys a week we spend about $150 a year on drying laundry. I still want the fluffiness so I run the laundry in the dryer for 10 minutes before I hang them on the line. Voila! They come off the line fluffy and fresh smelling! That costs about $25 a year so we still save $125 a year.
One last thought: when you do use your dryer, be sure to clean out the filter every time. Mr. Electricity says a dirty lint trap can use an additional 30% energy. Next time I’ll talk about what to do with all that lint from your lint trap!
The washing machine is an amazing invention. I still marvel at how my laundry is getting cleaned while I do something else! Talk about multi-tasking! I have a great appreciation for this because while we were building our house, the four of us lived in our tiny 392sq foot cabin (I could share many memorable stories of the experience, but I need to stick to washing laundry). Anyway, in the pioneering spirit, I decided it was a good idea to use people power instead of electricity to do our laundry. Boldly I bought a new toilet plunger, heated large pots of water on our wood stove (we didn’t have running hot water), filled our bathtub with water, soap and dirty laundry, and agitated with the new toilet plunger. I plunged and plunged and plunged some more. When I got tired I would recruit the kids to help. After several months of this, I decided that when our house was finished, one of the first things we were installing was a hot water tank and a clothes washer.
For those of you who are not up to the above described method, I have an electricity and money saving tip. Use cold water for your wash and rinse cycles. According to Mr. Electricity at http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/laundry.html about 90% of the energy used in your clothes washer is going to heat the water. We used to wash in warm and rinse in warm. I know our average cost per kwh (kilowatt hour) is 11 cents. From Mr. Electictricity I know an average w/w wash uses 3.5 kwh and an average c/c wash uses just .3 kwh. We do about 312 washes a year (6 loads a week). This means that simply by switching from washing in w/w to washing in c/c we are saving $111.39 a year!
If you are interested in doing your own calculation, Mr. Electricity’s site (link above) offers a very handy calculator and tons of information on saving electricity in your home. Less electricity use means less strain on our precious resources. Yay!
I feel like I am doing laundry all the time! With four of us wearing clothes, using towels, and sleeping on sheets, it never ends. I really enjoy hanging it on the clothesline though, and absolutely LOVE the smell of line-dried laundry. I seriously look forward to sleeping on freshly line-dried sheets. Ah, the simple pleasures!
Very often I find myself thinking about ways to save resources. Electricity, water, and money are top of my list. I make our laundry soap and it takes about 20 minutes to do. I figured out it costs about 2 cents a load to use. The stuff we used to buy cost about 20 cents a load.
You need a 5 gallon pail, a 100g bar of soap, a long spoon or stick to stir with, a pot, a grater, water, 1 cup borax and 1/2 cup washing soda. Heat 5c water in the pot to just under boiling, grate the soap and add to the hot water, stir till dissolved. Put 3 gallons (12L) hot tap water into the bucket, add the soap mixture, and stir till dissolved. Then add the washing soda, stir till dissolved, and finally add the borax and stir till dissolved. If you like, add a few drops of essential oil. Put the lid on and let it sit overnight. Depending on the soap you use it may be watery, gel-like, or a combination of both. It’s not beautiful, but works great.
This makes about 55 cups. Use about 1/2c per load and you just made yourself 110 loads worth of soap! According to the Texas Solar Power Co. (http://www.txspc.com/documents/WattageAppliance.pdf), the average household does 6 loads a week. Multiply that by 52 weeks and that’s 312 loads a year. At just 2 cents a load the soap costs $6.24. At 20 cents a load it’s $62.40. That’s a savings of $56.16 a year! Also, by reusing your pail you’ve reduced the plastic packaging that needs to be recycled.
How else can you save on resources while doing laundry? More on that next week…
I just love when people pull together to help one another! A great example is a community support event that is happening tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, August 3rd) at our local Roberts Creek Community Hall. Our land partner Robin Wheeler , who also makes the majority of Hankettes’ body care products, is needing community support due to illness. There will be silent auction and auction items that have been donated by artisans throughout our community. Please come out and support the event! If you would like to donate directly to Robin go to http://ediblelandscapes.ca/, the donate button is on the right.
This reminds me that there are so many ways we support each other. We have an old gas lawnmower which hasn’t run in years. Rob and I are somewhat “mechanically challenged” so didn’t really know how to fix it other than what instructions we found on the web. A friend of ours has offered to take it and fix it for us. This particular friend’s son has spent a lot of time at our house. Another friend has been loaning us his mower. Our daughter Sarah has been spending lots of time at Lynda’s (who sews many of Hankettes’ products) because she lives in town where Sarah’s classes are. Sarah is also friends with Lynda’s daughters who used to spend lots of time at our home.
I have always felt that it takes a whole community to raise a child because every person has a different perspective to offer that child. I’ve come to realize that when we share our various skills and ideas with our friends and neighbours, we create rich and meaningful lives for not just our kids but for all of us.
The sun has finally arrived on BC’s West Coast! Yay! With all the cloudy damp weather our garden took a beating (more like an eating!) from an outrageous slug population. Our homestead is in a forest. We live in harmony with the indigenous Banana slug species because they stay in the forested areas. They are quite pretty and are yellow or green and can have black spots as well. The non-indigenous Black slug (from Europe) however is a huge garden pest. I “hates” them! They invade with “armies” of ravenous eating machines. Seriously, I’ve been going out to our food gardens most evenings just before dusk. I find fifty to a hundred or more most nights. If it’s been raining double that! I used to be kind and relocate them, then I started using beer traps figuring they were dying happy. Sorry, it’s war now. Now I have my “massacre” tool. A long handled weeder with a blade. I figure “at least it’s quick”!
I was forced to plant and replant squash and beans several times and finally the plants are getting big enough that they will likely (I remain cautiously optimistic) survive. A friend of mine had a great suggestion which I have implemented happily with wonderful success. Save your tin cans and cut off the tops and bottoms. If your can opener will allow, cut under the ridge so you end up with a jagged edge. Slugs don’t like crawling over sharp objects. Place the cans sharp side up over your seedlings. You’ll need to wear gloves so you don’t cut yourself. My beans and Basil are working well with the tin can protection. This website from Vancouver Island has some other great tips: http://www.crd.bc.ca/gardening/slugs.htm.
Now, if I can just get the cat to stop digging and knocking the tins over…