Miss A and Miss M are with their dad this weekend, so I’m starting our second No Impact Week experience on my own. In the strange quiet, I wrote up this list of what we’ll need to buy or bring home this week:
- Food for 2 kids, 1 adult, and 2 small dogs. We’re stocked up on chicken, cat, and parakeet food for now.
- Suet for our back yard birds.
- Jeans for me.
The food isn’t the sort of consumption this day is about for me, but the suet and jeans are. Thanks to my local Freecycle network, the suet’s all taken care of. Someone posted 7 blocks of it to the group yesterday and I was the lucky first responder. Since Liesl, my friend and cohort in living a life less plastic, was the second to reply, I’ll share the suet with her and our collective population of chickadees, nuthatches, and flickers will be happy for weeks.
Liesl and her family have been our inspiration to reduce the amount of new plastic we buy or use, and for almost two years now we’ve been working on an educational project we call Plastic Is Forever. I’ve become so obsessed with our plastic footprint, it’s invaded my dreams – A while back, I had a lovely dream in which I was traipsing along my favorite beach hand in hand with a tall handsome man, bathed in the apricot sunset light. My dream man turned to hold me, leaning low to whisper in my ear “Rebecca, there is a general consensus amongst scientists that 60 – 80% of the plastics in the ocean come from land-based use…” Even my fantasy life involves plastic, in the geekiest way possible.
It’s this obsession that motivated me to try No Impact Week last time. I wondered how much my work to reduce our plastic footprint had also reduced our carbon footprint, and I wondered how many things I’d lost sight of in my focus on plastics. “A good bit” was the answer to both of those questions so we’re back for another try, to look again into the blind spots of my plastic-framed view of life.
I have one pair of pants, jeans that I’ve been wearing almost daily for 2 years now. And either I’ve lost weight or the jeans have stretched beyond the point of no return, because along with the tissue-thin knees and mysterious stains, they just won’t stay on, not even fresh from the dryer (yes, the energy-sucking dryer). Every morning when I put them on, a voice in my head sings out “saggy baggy elephant!” and that’s not really the tackle-the-day self-image motivation I need. Since I don’t have a full time day job to report to, I can get away with 1 pair of pants and 3 shirts as my every day wardrobe, although sometimes it’s depressing.
Ever since my family’s sudden plunge into involuntary simplicity, brought about by the loss of my now-ex-husband’s job on election day 2008, we’ve been following the old “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” motto with new vigor. We dabbled in voluntary simplicity before, but there was money for back-to-school clothes and more than one pair of mom jeans. Not so these days, and that’s OK. We make it work.
To combine our vow to eliminate new plastic from our lives with our financial reality, we made some of our school supplies this year: Recycled felted wool sweaters became pencil cases and alternatives to Ziploc bags for school books; we turned a recycled paper binder into the plastic view window binder on Miss M’s kindergarten supply list.
I like this living with less plastic and less in general. There are days when I envy other people their new things, but that generally fades away quickly enough. But sometimes new clothes are a necessity, and this is one of those times. I need new jeans. In honor of No Impact Week, I’ve posted a “Wanted: jeans” request to Freecycle. Normally, I’d head to the thrift store to spend two hours torturing myself by trying on used jeans, but I thought I’d give this more local option a try. I’ve never asked our Freecycle group for clothing before, but if this works, I’ll have a pair of jeans that I can wear in public without the 35 minute drive to our closest affordable thrift store. Jeans for free, with no plastic packaging, and with a much smaller carbon footprint than usual: This is my consumption dream for the week.