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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Pollan’

In honor of spring, the welcoming of the fresh and new and the thought of Spring Cleaning, I want to revisit my initial definition of the term “green.”  In the past few posts I have introduced using the term “eco-conscious” in place of “green.”  I actually like them both, a lot, therefore I plan on using them interchangeably.

Here is a revised and expanded version of my definition based on some of my thoughts and work in the last six months.

*I took away the use of the “does not equal” symbol, I would rather keep everything in terms of positive action*

GREEN = using what you have and making it last

ECO-CONSCIOUS = re-evaluating your usual level of consumption

GREEN = not wasting what you have

GREEN = considering the environmental  impact of the things you consume

ECO-CONSCIOUS = staying informed about the most useful tools for a “green” life

GREEN = eliminating from you life the things/substances that harm you

ECO-CONSCIOUS = eliminating from your life the things you don’t need

The last two points are the main focus of this discussion.  First, I wanted to eliminate the things/substances in my life that may harm me.  This seems rather obvious but will mean different things to different people.  Initially it meant getting rid of all my mainstream cleaning supplies.  I now use the standard “green clean” kit; a bag of baking soda, jugs of distilled white vinegar, vegetable-based liquid soap, the occasional leftover chunk of lemon and salt.  There is a myriad of combinations for these ingredients so I just experiment for the cleaning occasion.

For myself, the next step in the elimination of harmful things rests with food.  Not in the sense of going on a diet but rather getting rid of the foods in my kitchen that offer nothing but empty calories and and the taste of artificial flavors.  A really excellent resource for changing food habits is another Michael Pollan gem called, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.  Its a very small book, coming in at just 139 pages.  Each page is devoted to a food rule and the rules encompass everything from what to eat to where to shop for food.  I am considering removing the pages and posting as many as I can around my house, especially in the kitchen!

After a long winter of keeping the windows closed and accumulating the dust and clutter of life I wanted that feeling of lightness and clean.  So it became the perfect time to eliminate the things from my life that I did not need.  For a solid week I was really focused on getting rid of stuff.  I wanted to fly through my closets, book shelves and kitchen cupboards pulling out anything and everything I deemed superfluous.  Suffice it to say it has not been that whirlwind of an experience.  In fact, it has been a little tougher than I thought.  There appears to be a tiny hoarder hidden inside of me, a voice that says, “Hey, you might want that, later.”  There was also the question of, “Well I don’t need it but I certainly enjoy it, so whats wrong with that?”  The answer:  Nothing!  I realized that I was most frustrated and looking to cleanse my surroundings when everything got cluttered and disorganized.  So in the process of cleaning things out, I made a big effort to organize what I did want to keep.  The min-homesteader in me was eager to keep some of the old clothing for potholder and quilt material, and make a good storage space for the jars and containers I wanted for candles and soaps.

This post is a bit of a grab bag.  Obviously I touched on a lot of points that will each eventually be posts on their own.  What I wanted to convey is how “green” or “eco-conscious” is a concept that can be easily incorporated into everyday living and that your current lifestyle need not be utterly torn down to make way for “green.”  I see it more like a regime change.  Most people will probably do some kind of a Spring Clean.  Take it as an opportunity to try a little baking soda in your scrubbing, throw out the candy (or instead of waste, give it to someone with a sweet tooth!) and give your craft clutter a re-evaluation.  I cannot wait to explore the rest of my definition as I try out more and more “green” ideas!!

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I figure I will just dive in to this post since I spent the whole morning online trying to plan my mega-garden and now feel that I have much to say!  And none of it has to do directly with gardening!  Instead, its more of the confusion in planning for the spring/summer and thoughts on what gardening entails in modern life.  A great book that made me really meditate on this subject is Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education.  As usual Pollan adeptly blends his own gardening experiences with the history of horticulture.  As an aside, if it is just the plant stories you are interested in Pollan wrote a book called The Botany of Desire (also an excellent documentary) that delves into the histories of four of the most influential plants in human history.  What Second Nature offers is a look at the what the act of gardening means to people, how it signifies a person’s place in the human culture and where the balance is between clear-cut nature control and letting nature run rampant around your home and yard.  After scolding myself for not being a more prepared gardener (I am only now starting to write modest plan of what I think I want to grow)  I make sure to remember this book and how an appreciation for what is going on in your yard, whether you have it under total control or not is the new essence of gardening.

As I was researching my hopes and dreams for a more substantial garden this year I ran into the familiar feeling of needing to go shopping.  I don’t have the right seed starter, I don’t have seeds, my garden tools are lacking, I could stand to have a soil testing kit, and so on and so forth.  Then, I remembered my very current experience with gardening.  It has been limited to fall and spring planted bulbs.  My favorites for fall planting are hyacinth, tulip and crocus.  I know something else is planted out there but I cannot for the life of me remember what it is!  Spring plantings have been a little less successful simply because I have the worlds shadiest yard and most of the popular flowers for summer demand an intense amount of sun (never shall I get to enjoy a lily)  But, my luck has been with begonias and anemones.  Everyday I leave the house I always peruse the garden bed which stretches from underneath my living room window to the driveway.  There has been snow, drenching rain, hard freezes and lots of wind this winter, but I am astonished to report that right on schedule, my crocus from not last November but the November before that have come back with force and became a thick strip of orange, white and purple edging.  This in concert with the peeking tulips (both old and new), hyacinth (old) and a couple of lavender plants that beautifully wintered has made me absolutely appreciate the effortless work of Mother Nature. I realize that any effort I make to add to my surroundings will be met with just the right energy from Mother Nature.  With this thought in mind, I will be grabbing some seed packets, picking a pretty good spot and forging ahead with sunflowers, potatoes and beans.  Hopefully Mother Nature agrees with me 🙂

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