Saturday, January 12, 2008

Green Living?

So, I've been reading the book Affluenza, and I had a moment of clarity. For a while now, I've been thinking I was into "green living". I was kinda proud of I was on the bandwagon of a new trend before it really got to be a big trend (that doesn't happen much in my life). In reading this book though, I've realized I'm really more of an extremely frugal person and greener living was an off shoot of that. I can pinch a penny until it screams, and I think I may truly be able to get blood from a turnip. Yes, I like solar power and I think it's super cool that Josh set up a solar power station that we can plug things into. But what's really cool is we're powering those things for free. I like the side-effect of using renewable resources and not polluting, but the main benefit to me is getting something for nothing. I'm (obviously) extremely pro-breastfeeding and could go on for hours about various benefits if anyone was interested, but the reason I really chose to breastfeed my first baby (before I knew all that stuff) was because it was free. Now that I have used cloth diapers for 3 years, I could go on and on about the benefits, but again, I initially chose it because I could spend $200 once and have diapers for 3 years. Canning our own food is really cool and preservative free, guessed it....also really cheap. It's a little bit of a blow to the ego, I'm not as altruistic as I thought. Hmrph.

One thing that has always kinda nagged at me is we don't fit in anywhere. I can't stand the republicans or the democrats, but if you made me define our political stance, I would say we're definitely liberal. One of my friends calls us "second generation hippies". I think of homebirthing, cloth diapering, home canning, home schooling, breastfeeding, a hippie, liberal thing. And yet, I keep finding myself grouped with some really pretty conservative people. I started to doubt whether I really knew my own stance. Then I read a paragraph in this book that made it more clear....

"Luttwak calls himself 'a real conservative, not a phony conservative.' 'I want to conserve family, community, nature. Conservatism should not be about the market, about money,' he argues. 'It should be about conserving things, not burning them up in the name of greed.'
Too often, he says, so-called 'conservatives' make speeches lauding the unrestricted market (as the best mechanism for rapidly increasing America's wealth), while at the same time saying 'we have to go back to old family values, we have to maintain communities.' 'It's a complete non-sequiter, a complete contradiction, the two of course are completely in collision. It's the funniest after-dinner speech in American. And the fact that this is listened to without peals of laughter is a real problem.'" --Affluenza

So I guess maybe we're more of the "real conservative" group that he's describing. Our goal in stretching our money is to not find ourselves working 60 hour weeks. We want to limit the amount of money we need to spend so we are able to work less and live more. What's the point of working a lot to make a lot of money that you don't have the time to enjoy? It's so much better to be at home doing things as a family. When Tony Snow resigned as the White House Press Secretary because he "needed to make more money" (needed!!), the only thing I could think was, "my word, I sincerely hope I never find myself at a place in life where I feel like I NEED more than $168K/year". What's the point of a big house and fancy things if it makes you a slave to money?!?

Anywhoo.........Enough of my opinions (that are just my own, as they say, "your mileage may vary"). This all leads up to my latest project, that initially came from a desire to, again, save money, but I have since come up with tons of other good benefits to it. (fair warning guys, just click the little "x" at the top of the box if girlie stuff is gonna gross you out)......cloth pads. Yes, yes, yes.....ewww...gross, how could you? Well, people thought cloth diapering was icky, but it's turned out rather well. Extremely cheap, no diaper rash, and even cheaper now that I'm learning to make my own (not to mention those environemental benefits of not producing, shipping, picking up the trash, and land-filling disposables). Then I got even weirder on all of you by insisting on a homebirth this time around (which worked out *wonderfully*). Well, after, said homebirth, I just grabbed a few cloth diapers because we were in the middle of moving and the usual supply of disposable protection was packed away somewhere. Even a big ol' bulky diaper was WAY more comfortable than disposable stuff. I can't really afford to drop $50-$100 on cloth pads (though, it'd be worth it...they tend to last around 7 years, I'm told), so I started looking around the internet and found free patterns. Thanks to a big box of fabric I received for christmas (muchas gracias), I was able to sew up some of my own, for free! You can't really beat free. Fleece and flannel are way more comfortable than plastic and I was able to make inserts from old cloth diapers. The diapers have been through 3 years of use (I'd say over 300 washes each, on average) and they were getting really ratty. Ah hah, but if you're reading a book all about how we consume too much and have too many things, you start thinking about how that ratty old diaper could still be useful. You cut the center out of it, take off the top and bottom layer (that are more "hole" than "fabric") and you find you have 6 perfectly good, unbleached cotton, time-tested super absorbant layers left in the middle! A quick overlock stitch all the away around and you can run out a whole set of pads (with wings, even!) in a couple of hours. If you're interested in the benefits of cloth, check this out. Most women who are very timidly interested bring up the fact that they only use tampons....have you read about what's in them? ewwwww While I haven't gotten to put them to use yet, I'm told (by many many sources) that cloth pads cause less cramping and less bleeding (i.e. fewer days, by far). If you insist on a tampon type thing (or need one for certain activities), there are unbleached 100% cotton alternatives at your local "hippie store", or there's also something called a diva cup that's reusable. I have a diva cup and didn't really like it, but that's just me. I'll spare you the pictures of my homemade pads, but if any of my hippie friends are interested, I'm happy to email photos ;-)


Megan said...

Good post! I am like you in that I started doing most of the "crunchy" things we do, like cloth diapering, making my own baby food, extended nursing, etc, for money reasons. I'm neither terribly politically or environmentally conscious, but I'm very practical. It has always been strange to me when people cloth diaper, but have a stash of like 40 diapers that run $18 each. You just ruined one of the best reasons to cloth diaper!

One Acre Homestead said...

/smiling/ Amen to the green living aha moment! I think I, too, lean toward green because it is soooo frugal. How can you resist growing your own food and canning? And why pay for water when it falls from the sky for free??? It just seems so common sensical, doesn't it?

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