I just read this article by Michael Pollan. He makes some really good points.
It sounds like he’s on board with the Food, Not Lawns movement
We’ve had in this country what I call a wilderness ethic that’s been very good at telling us what to preserve. You know, eight percent of the American landmass we’ve kind of locked up and thrown away the key. That’s a wonderful achievement and has given us things like the wilderness park.
This is one of our great contributions to world culture, this idea of wilderness. On the other hand, it’s had nothing to say of any value for the ninety-two percent of the landscape that we cannot help but change because this is where we live. This is where we grow our food, this is where we work. Essentially the tendency of the wilderness ethic is to write that all off. Land is either virgin or raped. It’s an all or nothing ethic. It’s either in the realm of pristine, preserved wilderness, or it’s development– parking lot, lawn.
This is a topic that I’ve been thinking about, especially after reading Urban Homestead. They talk a lot about the wastefulness of having a lawn, and I’ve been slowly trying to de-grass my yard. We are expanding our mulched beds, and putting in vegetables, fruits, and herbs that look beautiful, but also don’t waste water. It is ridiculous to pollute our water supply with all of the chemicals that we put in to our lawn, when it gives us nothing in return except for a manicured slab of grass. I am fortunate to live in an area where I am not required to have grass, but my husband is afraid that we will be the weirdos on the block if we completely eliminate it. He helped me to yank out some of our useless water hogs this weekend though, so I think he’s coming on board. For now, my goal is to reduce the amount of water that we waste and to make sure that I do the best that I can to avoid further polluting the water that does go to my lawn.
Back to the article… Michael Pollan also challenges readers to
…find one thing in your life that doesn’t involve spending money that you could do, one change that would make a contribution both to the fact of global warming and your sense of helplessness about global warming.
I think of this when I’m at the grocery store and I see the “green” grocery bags for sale. I know so many people who have tons of canvas or mesh bags at their house, but they feel the need to buy the bags to be more green. Its silly. Our consumerism is tainting our attempts to undo the problem… a problem that it has caused in the first place!
I think this is such a great challenge. Its one that I’ve struggled with… I’ve had to push myself to think in a new way. There are so many things that we can do that will help immensely and don’t require for us to spend a single cent. I use a clothes line outside, but I wanted to dry some clothes inside. I immediately wanted to run (or walk) to the store and buy a fancy, retractable clothesline. I thought about it for a second, and I realized that I had places in my house where I could hang or drape the sheets, and I didn’t need to buy anything. Why did I feel the need to go get the proper gadget to hang clothes?! Billions of people have hung clothes without indoor retractable clotheslines!
I did the same thing with my worm bin. I was researching online to find some kind of super worm chalet. It took me several days to convince myself that all that I needed was the rubbermaid that held my homebirth supplies, with a few holes drilled in the side. It took me only a few minutes, and it reused an item that I wasn’t using. When I went to the Boulder county worm composting workshop, I smiled when I saw that they were using the same thing for their official worm bin. You don’t need fancy stuff to make it work.
I’m not saying that there aren’t times when the special equipment is worth it. For example, I use my grain mill daily, and I absolutely adore it. I traded in my hand powered model for the electric one, because it grinds a much finer flour so I don’t need to supplement with white flour. I still try to make good choices, by buying Colorado grown organic wheat berries in bulk, and by batch processing the wheat. I’m still happy to use the electric version though 😉
If you’ve recently started doing anything to be more green that doesn’t include buying something new, then I’d love to hear about it. I’m always excited to try new things! I am going to try to make a solar oven out of stuff that I have in my garage. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully I’ll soon be making my zucchini bread in the back yard 😉
We tore up our front lawn when we moved in this house this summer and it’s all garden. It’s kindof unnerving at first to have a dirt front lawn but now it looks wonderful. I hope to pack even more plants into that space next year.
I confess that I was lusting after the Hannaford bags- they just fold up so small. So my mil bought me a couple. Dh does our grocery shopping and refuses to use them because he argues (as you do) that we have perfectly good canvas bags that we’ve been using successfully all along.
As for making green things out of supplies you have already: I’m going to try and make a self watering container for plants and I want to figure out how to make a rain harvester. I’d love to see your solar oven and hear how you made it.
Ooh! Do you have pics of your yard? That’s so cool!
Did you see that they show you how to make the self-watering containers in _Urban Homestead_? That was one of the projects that I wanted to try. Please post if you make them, because I’d love to hear how it goes!
Our neighbor’s backyard is entirely xeriscaped and it actually doesn’t look all that weird. In the front he has a huge old evergreen and a non-functioning fountain/sculpture of sorts, plus a wood porch. The backyard is basically a large concrete patio with a large shed. I think there are a couple of spots where it’s possible to grow flowers, but they are very small beds.