Go ahead, hate me...
Another overdue post (review time)

the stuff we build

I've been on a whole reduce, reuse, recycle kick.  Actually, I've always been a bit like that but it's been intensifying over the last year.  Some of it stems from the economy; it's hard for me to look around and see people struggling and not feel like I should save more, do more, and waste less.  Some of it is environmental, which is, again, seeing waste - the amount of packaging we throw away, the plethora of plastic toys that pile up.  And some of it is, well, I really like working with my hands.

Don't get me wrong, I am the first to admit that I am also a consumer.  I love to shop, even if it's just window shopping.  I like to see what's new and creative.  I like to peruse catalogs.

But, again, I like building things.  I have a hard time seeing something in a catalog that I know I could make myself and giving someone else money for it. 

I also hesitate at spending extra money just because it's made from recycled materials. Or just because it has the word "green" on the label.  Those items are very popular in catalogs this year.  And while I applaud those beautiful fake flowers hand-crafted by villagers in a depressed nation from elephant poop, both for being sustainable, compostable, and economically stimulating... do I really think that the $50 American bucks (not including shipping) for 6 turd blooms is going to those poor, resourceful villagers?  No, I don't.  I'm also not swimming in so much extra cash that I'm willing to buy a $600 end table made from salvaged rulers. Or, for that matter, shop all green items every day at Whole Foods. 

Because you can certainly waste money as much as you can waste resources.  (This is a weird era - between the economy, going green, and being, as a society, consumers we are caught in conflicting forces. I hope the marketers are ready.) 

Plus, I kind of feel like if I really want old rulers or elephant poop I can cozy up to some teachers or zookeepers respectively, or even chaperone a school field trip TO the zoo, with the cozying, and collect all those reusable items at once.  Thus, further reducing my carbon footprint by making the one mass transit trip.

Anyway Because of all of the above, I've been doing a lot of handmade items and crafty kind of stuff, trying to go a little green for the holidays, and trying to bend my mind to how I can reuse/recycle all the crap we might throw away. (Plus, you know, no job... I got time!)  I totally want to show you some of the projects, but I've got to wait because I may or may not be giving some of them away as Christmas gifts.  You know, depending on how they turn out.  And whether the recipient would be open to receiving something that may have had its humble beginnings at a thrift store or in my closet.  (That does sound weird, doesn't it?)  Since, like, everyone from old bosses to family members seems to be aware that I write online now I don't want to spoil any surprises. (I should have never given up anonyminity.)  Except for the jam!  I made a TON of jam this summer and everyone who might read me already basically knows they're getting some jam for Christmas.

If you didn't know that, you, yes you, are getting jam.

Which brings me to the other tree-hugging project I was working on.  When we moved into this house I decided to try to create an edible garden.  I.e. I wanted to put in as many herbs, and edible flowers as possible, as well as veggies.  If it wasn't edible I wanted it to be a pollinator (brings bees) and/or drought resistant, and/or native.  I had such lofty goals. I envisioned eating really fresh and unusual produce, putting food by, and being able to donate extra vegetables to Second Harvest.  In my last house I had an English garden, almost all flowers, with veggies mainly in pots, and everything grew like fricking gangbusters.  That house was a mile away from our current house. 

In this house, the soil is shit. 

The backyard has been landscaped so many times that the soil is completely depleted.  (The ground might even be a little poisoned.)  I'm still putting in edible plants.  Whether they survive, or produce much, is another matter.  So in an effort to put some nutrients back in the soil, I've just started composting.

I am amazed at how much waste you reduce when you compost!  Our garbage load has gone way down.  I'm using all sorts of crap I didn't know you could use.  Did you know that you can compost paper?  Because I didn't know that!  Thanksgiving around here was a fucking miracle of gluttony and thriftiness.  Keen is as converted as I am.  When you can see yourself filling the kitchen bin and dumping it out into the composter almost every day it's hard not to feel like, by Jove, I'm doing something!  For Thanksgiving day alone I think we filled and dumped that bin seven times. 

I should have started ages ago.  I've also discovered I enjoy rooting around in muck!

Must be that hands thing again.  And now you know where mine have been.

(Merry Christmas.)              - the wg



It is a dilemma that the healthiest foods and most earth-friendly products are also the most expensive. And yes, I'm certain too that advertisers use false promises of giving so much of the profits to various causes. This is shameful to me--as evil as using religion to sell merchandise and services.

Also, composting is a wonderful thing--probably the most efficient and cost-effective way to replenish the soil. And as a bonus (at least in this part of the U.S.), compost draws earthworms for fishing--so many that composters can often sell fishing worms, for extra income.


I should start composting too but I've been reluctant because my husband is.... how can I say this delicately?.... hopeless.

He filled the plastic recycling bin with grass cuttings. I could have killed him. Wet grass cuttings. We came this close to a fire.


Andrea (@shutterbitch)

This has been big on my mind lately too. It all started when I decided I want to lose weight. Which led to a glut of research on healthy eating. Which led me to locavore way of thinking. Which led me to thinking about gardening. Which led me to thinking about HOW to garden, composting and soil and heirloom seeds and such.

My obsession has spiraled beyond my control. I only wish my husband were as on board as Keen is.


Compost rocks. And I like jam. And you've totally hit on it -- reduce/reuse/repurpose is what's going to save us. Also just not owning as much to begin with. How about a community collective of gardening tools and tools in general? The revolutions always start at this level. Awesome post.

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