Friday, June 19, 2009

Consumerism

There is a television commercial in which a woman roughly my age talks about her ritual of going to her favorite popular store once a week and buying just one item (often for less than $10!!!). My daughter said that she must be a millionaire and wouldn't her house be crowded?! As her mother's child, my daughter was shocked and outraged by such wastefulness and frivolity. :-)

We don't buy new things except under some tightly controlled special circumstances. Our furniture, household appliances, home decor, transportation, and toys are hand-me-downs or purchased second-hand. A few items were purchased new but we are careful to avoid items made in countries that abuse their workers. We try very hard to purchase fair trade or locally produced items on those very rare occasions when buying new is a better choice than buying used or accepting a cast-off.

Why not buy new? Well, it gets expensive and I really can't justify spending money I don't have on stuff I don't need (and it is amazing what people don't need but buy anyway). I'm also unwilling to support abusive labor practices. I would purchase more fair trade items but again, I hardly ever really *need* anything and I can hardly ever justify the expense. Finally, I'm concerned about the environmental impact of the ceaseless production of goods that no one really needs and which not only create pollution in their production but also in their disposal. I watched a woman walk out of a craft store with a basket the other day. I wonder how much she paid for her cheaply made basket (cheap because they exploited the labor force). I wondered about the environmental and economic cost of importation. I wondered if she realized that the thrift store down the way has tons of baskets they sell much less expensively because, let's face it; we're inundated by cheaply made baskets. Do we really need to keep making more? It isn't like they go bad. (Which reminds me of another pet peeve. Why do they shrink wrap non-perishable items and then encase them in big-ass boxes? I think the intent is to screw over the earth and piss me off simultaneously.)

I'm also very concerned about bringing toxins into my home. Carpets, plastic shower curtains, upholstered furniture, laminates, etc. all are full of crap I really don't want my babies inhaling. When our carpets needed to be replaced we didn't replace them. Our floors are bare and I find it much easier to keep the place clean. When and if I need rugs, I'll wait until I can afford fair-trade, natural-fabric, organic choices (I may have to wait a long time!) or I'll make them myself. (when hell freezes over?) We've had no carpets for some time now and we're just fine. Turns out that carpets are a luxury. You don't actually need them! Who knew? When my plastic shower curtain liner got scuzzy some years ago, I found that a flannel bed sheet worked just as well. Following a shower, the fabric dries quickly and we have not had the problems we had with mildew that were common when we used plastic. Periodically, I toss the sheet into the laundry and hand it on the line to dry. Easy.

Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without. Seems like awfully good advice. Follow this advice and when you really want something- you can get it. You won't have blown all your money by going once a week to your local imported crap store to buy things you don't need (some for less than $10!!). You'll still have money in your account and space in your house. Now that's a sweet deal.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I adore baking soda

I just love baking soda. Let us sing its praises!

I use it in the tub and sink and toilet. Add a little vinegar and watch it foam impressively. It is good for de-stinking stinky drains.

I make a paste of it to dab on itchy spots on kids.

I use it as a facial scrub, to brush my teeth, and to wash my hair.

I sprinkle it on floors to deodorize the house and on wet spots to soak up the spill.

It is great in my laundry and in my food and in my fridge.

I gargle with it when my throat is sore and bathe in it when I need to relax.

It must be one of my favorite things on earth.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Veganism

I began my life as a vegan when I started college back in 1992. Before then I was a vegetarian, a lifestyle choice I made when I was sixteen. When I was in elementary school I gave up red meat, a choice I made when I considered how pretty and soulful a cow's eyes can be.

I love animals. Always have. My affection for my own pets and the fact that I have never met an animal I didn't like (yes, even the creepy crawlies are delightful to me!)make vegetarianism/veganism an easy choice. We live near the Farm Sanctuary in Upstate New York. Occasional visits there steel my resolve and revivify my commitments. While I find it nearly impossible to avoid a food for my own sake, I find that I can easily reject the yummiest temptation when I think of the suffering I might cause another creature.

As my veganism evolved, I learned many more reasons to avoid eating animal products. Veganism is the best diet for a healthy planet. It promotes social justice. It encourages good personal health. It is difficult not to be a mindful eater when you are vegan. My veganism has been a gateway to knowledge about natural health and to a deeper appreciation of the plant world that sustains me.

My diet has recently been more complicated as I have dropped almost all wheat gluten from my diet and am now avoiding tomatoes and tomato products except those grown here in the New York with fair labor practices. I am working toward keeping my purchases local and organic. I also try to avoid foods that are over processed and over packaged. I am not perfect here but I'm working on it and enjoying the challenges in the process.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lady Days

Recently when teaching American women's history to my community college students, I was asked what women did before they invented maxi pads and tampons. It was inconceivable to most of the young women in my class that it was possible to live without plastic sanitary supplies. They expressed revulsion with their own periods and horror at the thought that women used to actually use washable supplies. Ick! They had to actually touch their own bodies and menstrual blood?!! Revolting.

I haven't used a disposable pad or tampon in many years. Instead, I choose to make my own pads out of rags. The change originated as an environmental concern with the impact of the overuse of disposable sanitary napkins and tampons. It also emerged from my feminist spirituality and my belief that increasing my awareness and comfort with my own body is an act of defiance against phallocentrism.

When I made the switch, the way I experienced my period changed. The act of washing my own pads and of hanging them up on the line to dry has become a satisfying ritual linking me to the many generations of women before me whose bodies have sustained and nurtured our species. Washing my own pads brings me in contact with the smell, the texture, the colors of my own body processes. I am more aware of my health, of my potential, of my fertility. My children, both daughter and sons, are exposed to their mother's biology. I am matter-of-fact about my period. The process is not hidden in plastic wrap and buried in the trash as a shameful secret or an embarrassing nuisance. It is fluttering on the laundry line in the yard where they play. The sight of blood does not alarm them. How could it? They know that I am happy and proud of my womanhood. I am thankful for my menstrual period. It makes me feel strong and feminine and connected to life.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Donning my Green Apron

Welcome to my new blog, The Green Apron, a companion to my Quaker Pagan blog, Plainly Pagan. I begin this blog with the intention of providing space to share and develop my eco-feminist ideas with others with similar concerns about the erosion of our environment.

The title of this blog indicates my concern for the environment (green) within the context of domesticity and motherhood (apron). While I, of course, am interested in community, national, and international environmentalist issues, this blog is most concerned with how we, in our littleness, can make a difference.

The Green Apron is also a reference to the green aprons worn by Quaker women long ago. This blog will frequently highlight the intersections between my environmentalism and my interests in Quaker and Neo-Pagan feminist spiritualities.