Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pioneer Woman

Survival skills fascinate me. Not just surving when the s#$@ goes down, but doing it well.

Honestly, if the economy collapses tomorrow and the revolution comes, I am screwed. I can't light a fire to save my life (literally). I know the concept behind it - wood, arrayed in a way that allows kindling and air, accelerant (if you are lucky), add flame - but somehow it never becomes fire.

I possess the same sense of unease that many surburan Americans share - that we have become disconnected enough from our food supply chain, self health care, and utilities that if the systems would break down, it would be mass chaos leading to mass casualties. We have enough food to last several weeks in our house, but lack a good water supply. If tomorrow is not like today, my family would be screwed.

Enough doom and gloom. There is good in the has led me to learn or adapt to new behaviors. This post is about celebrating what paranoia wrought in my life.

No paper towels - we have them on hand in our house, but rarely use them. We use bar towels and rags instead. I use them to clean everything. They are stronger than paper towels, reusable, and they go through the wash just fine. I don't know why anyone bothers with paper towels any more.

I used to draw the line at bodily fluids on the cloth towels, but cloth diapering my youngest has taught me that with enough wash cycles, everything is fine. And cloth diapers (and/or inserts) have future use as rags in the future. Bonus!

Cloth menstrual pads - Why wear a disposable pad covered in chemicals up against sensitive skin several days a month? A couple of cloth pads came with a cloth diaper order several years ago. I loved them so much I sewed some more myself. I used old baby blankets and cloth diapers to make them. They are super easy to make. Again, toss them into the wash and you are good to go. I have a lined cloth bag (that I made) in my purse to hold dirties if I am out and about. Considering the average woman uses 4-5 pads a day, 5 days a month, I am NOT throwing away at least 20-25 pads each month. And saving money. Yay!

Homemade deodorant - Ok, this one is brand spanking new. I tried several natural deodorants but found them irritating. Friends pointed me in the direction of making my own deodorant. I do not see why this won't be successful. I am excited about doing this myself!

Gardening - All my life, I was convinced I had a black thumb. Besides, the idea of clearing a plot of land, managing the soil, weeding, etc, overwhelmed me. I know I am prone to biting off more than I can chew and *knew* I would do too much and then give up when it got too hard to manage. This spring, I decided to test the black thumb theory by planting a container garden. I figured I could manage one pot at a time. If one pot of plants dies, it would be ok because I could either start over or turn my attention to another pot. I tried not to make a big investment in it. I used old wood baskets and leftover conference tote bags for the planters. I tried to keep things as organic as possible and didn't use insecticides or similar.

It was even more of a success than I imagined! I not only kept the plants alive, but harvested beans, squash, green onions, and potatoes throughout the summer. I didn't do too well at tomatoes (the squirrels made off with them) or strawberries (the squirrels made off with them), but looking back at this sentence, I realize it is more a matter of squirrel management than my gardening ability. The garden did go kaput during the blazing heat of August, but I can plan to be more diligent about watering next year.

Reusing and recycling - I have discovered thrift stores are the cheapest and best kept secret for cheap fabrics. What is more pioneer-y than taking something old and making it new again? I love refashioning clothes! I have made patchwork sweater coats for several friends (and am taking commissions!), have learned the joys of felting old wool sweaters to make things like hats and slippers, and think using sheets for dress muslins is the best kept secret ever. I am having so much fun playing with old clothes!

Thrift stores are fabulous anyway. I get about 75% of my boys and my own clothing from thrift stores. I especially love shopping there for kids clothes. I heartily believe kids are meant to get dirty and I find it is easier to let this ideal stand if my child is wearing an outfit that cost $3 rather than $30. Besides, kids grow out of clothing so fast they barely get a chance to wear the item. And I love going to a place and finding the one item in the store that is a perfect find. It is like a treasure hunt.

Anyway, this is a short list, but it shows the shift in my thinking. Not only have I enjoyed learning new skills, but I have saved money and created less ecological impact by doing these things. I know there is a lot more I can do... and I will get to it, eventually. Maybe. Many people are doing much, much more. But it is fun to do just these few small things and feel like you are making a difference.

1 comment:

  1. Have you considered a cup as well? I have been using one for 12 years and really love the ease. Swimming and other activities beyond my cloth pads.