Saturday, January 17, 2009


Would you permit me a rant?

I have noticed something about this whole green movement and after a couple of questions from a friend about cloth diapering, I felt the need to rant... so here goes.

When I was a kid, we learned all about the environment and taking care of it in school. There was this phase we learned, Reduc... come on, you all know it...Reduce, good...what's next? Reuse, ok...and the last? Recycle. Very good class.

Makes sense. And it is something my parents taught us. Reduce, crush your trash so it doesn't take up as much space, turn lights off when you aren't using them. Reuse, take the bags out of the cereal boxes and use them to wrap sandwiches in, buy clothes at a thrift store. Recycle, use something for a different purpose, like milk jugs to store water in for the next power outage.

Being that I have a hippy earth mother, we did all this for two reasons. Reason A. to take care of the earth, and Reason B. (this probably was the bigger reason) it saved us a lot of money! And a lot of what we did were things that my mom's Granny taught her, stuff Granny had figured out during the Depression and life out on a ranch in Nebraska where they didn't have two pennies to rub together.

Ok, fast forward to today. We hear about being green all the time, but seems to me like "they" are telling us we need to buy special stuff in order to be green. Like fancy cleaning products (use vinegar), special cars that cost a fortune even when subsidized by the government, (walk, ride a bike), fancy organic cotton shirts (buy from the local mission store, it's already made and you will be helping out the mission). It's one more way Americans are consumers, and we are suppose to be consuming less, reducing, right?

I mentioned the cloth diaper thing. Yes, we do use Fuzzy Bunz, a new generation of cloth...these things aren't your mother's prefolds. But here is the thing, we only have second hand ones. I haven't bought new at all. Also, we don't use the fancy sprayer, or buy into all the other "stuff" that you need. I did invest in a $5 trash can with a lid for the dirty ones, and my mother in law bought me an awesome clothes rack at the Amish store, because one of the barn cats at my parents' house ate part of my other one when I was in college...yes, I was still using it. Other than that, we just wash and wear.

There are some nice things out there now that help with being environmentally friendly that don't cost a fortune. I love my $1 reusable grocery bags...they get used for much more than groceries. But I feel like a lot of things are a rip off and are making people feel like you have to be rich in order to be green. Not true, and frankly, there are so many things that you can do that are helpful to the environment that are cheaper, healthier. I don't want to teach my boys consumerism in the mist of trying to teach them to be good stewards of the earth that God has given us...there is something very contradictory about that.

Not that we have it all figured out, but here are some of the things we do that are either free or cost little...

1. Recycle. This actually helps camp save money on garbage pick up. Yeah, it cost a bit in gas, but I usually drop stuff off on the way to somewhere else.

2. Use reusable grocery bags. I bought the $1 ones, but you could easily make them with left over fabric that has been sitting around.

3. Run the dishwasher only when full. We bought ours for $15 at the local Restore in Holland. Restore is Habitat for Humanity's resale store for construction supplies, kinda like a Lowe's thrift store. They have appliances, cabinets, drywall, screws, toilets, all that people have donated and that are still good...
4. Use vinegar and baking soda as cleaners. I use a little regular Dawn dish soap too. I put my mix in a reusable spray bottle and there we go.

5. Using white wash clothes to clean with, then wash.

6. Reusing what we have when we can...we have to get creative at times, but that's part of the fun. I always feel like I have really accomplished something when I can make something new out of something old.

7. Buying from the local thrift store. Accepting hand me downs. I love the surprising way we get clothes for ourselves and our kids! And it isn't junk either, my kids are better dressed in hand me downs than they would be if I had to buy all new for them.

8. Turn the lights off when we aren't in the room.

9. Turn the heat down and put on a sweater.

10. Using a reusable container for water instead of buying bottled water.

11. Making whole food instead of buying prepackaged stuff...most of the time. This is so much better for you and you aren't wasting as much packaging either.

12. Making presents or re gifting. Christmas with my family was hilarious this year because of this. My brother who is a welding student and a blacksmith gave us his assignments, practise joints that he had welded. My sister and her husband reused ceramic tiles from their wedding and made them into coasters with our family's name on them, we gave them meat from our freezer. Forrest got an old wallet with some used gift cards in and was thrilled!

Ok...I am done ranting now....I will try not to do it again for a while.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE the reusable grocery bags, I have them for every store. We use them for other things too, used some bringing Bethany back to school tonight. They are sturdy and they fit more in them that a regular plastic grocery bag.
    We got our most recent refrig. at the LOVE, INC store in Hudsonville. It was a little older than our present one but in better shape and had an ice maker!
    My favorite thing to buy used is books. I cannot understand why one would buy a book new. I have purchased new books,some just released a short time ago, for a dollar or less. I can get magazines, often a month or two old for ten to twenty-five cents! Why subscribe new!!??? Your rant made a lot of sense!


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