1.13.2009

Worthwhile Conservation: Obstacles and Enablers

Over at Tiny Choices, there's been some talk about boogers. Not just any boogers, though.. these are the kind that find sustainable disposable in handkerchiefs.
All this talk about disposable tissues vs. reusable hankies got me thinking... why is conservation so hard? What obstacles do conservors face.. what people?
I got my first hankie out of Gramma's basement -- it looks like (probably is) a doily and functions beautifully. I carry it, or another hankie, with my almost all the time, regardless of whether I have a cold or not. Not only do I use it to wipe my nose, but it functions as an impromptu napkin, blotter, and apple core saver (if you can bring restaurant scraps to a dog, why not cores to the worms?). Don't worry, I was my hankies frequently. VERY frequently. Gramma still makes fun of me for my doily hankie, but my mother mocks the very idea of a handkerchief. To her, hankies are for stuffing suit jacket pockets, only -- merely decoration for stuffy (ha, pun!) occasions. My mother is an obstacle to conservation.

Mom grew up during a transition time: born in the mid-sixties, Mom was blissfully unaware of the peace movements and political strife. What she saw was my Gramma slowly canning tomatoes in a water bath and diapering children with cloth. To my mother, these were needless inconveniences. Why can your own tomatoes when tin at the store costs so little and requires so little effort? Why bother with cloth diapers, swishing them in the toilet and laundering with extra hot water, when you can buy a disposable. The easy access to disposables and easy-fixes: obstacles to conservation.

But, those are valid questions. Why, indeed? How about a few more questions, while we're at it. Why hand-knit socks? The yarn wasn't any cheaper than buying from the store and it surely wasn't as easy as finding a nice pair from a seller, but I made them. Thought and time and love went into them. Last Christmas, when I gave Gramma a specially machine-made pair of diabetic-friendly socks, she was thankful, of course. This year, she demanded I help her into her new, handmade favorites. Her nursing home friends all see her prize gift and she beams with pride for her talented granddaughter.
The same goes with my homemade bread. It doesn't take that much time, though, or love to make a decent loaf, but it surely involves more than buying some Wonder bread from Wal-Mart. Of course, nothing beats the smell of a loaf emerging from the oven, but it's more than that: TheBoy prizes my whole wheat loaf over any fancier store-bought version because I made it. He doesn't care if it's soggy inside or turns stale in just two days -- it's the bread specially made for him and him alone.

The point of this ranting? Making things at home, or just making do requires your effort and love. You can't buy love? Well, you can't just buy effort, either. And those cloth baby diapers: they leave fewer rashes on baby's bums. Those home-canned tomatoes: totally organic at a time when pesticide use was on the rise and DDT was still pretty common. Worthwhile.
What do you think: is it worth the effort and love expenditures to make things homemade, to conserve while you can? Or, are the obstacles of convenience and ridicule too difficult to overcome?

Incidentally, I'm not trying to judge here. I buy into tons of convenience items, I just happen to make bread at home (and now butter, check into my food blog soon for a post). For a bit of uplifting thought, how about the conservation enablers in your life? Farmer's Daughter recently posted about the wonderful impact of her family's matriarchs and it got me thinking about enablers and obstacles. Who helps you "make do"? Who hinders you?

3 comments:

Golden Years Gal said...

I love your comments! You must be, what, mid 60's with a younger Mother? :)
I too am like you but I was born in 1947. But don't think that my classmates from the 60's are anything like me either.
I bake bread, sew, knit, raise dogs, and birds and we have a few angus and Charolais cattle.
Like you, my husband thinks I'm somethin' when I make him a walnut cake with 7 minute frosting (Southern Living Cookbook, 2002, maybe).
But it isn't the conservation, ok, well, maybe it is cause I guess I am a tightwad. It's just the doing it! Yes, the "doing it". Is it cause it's 'fun'? Cause it 'saves money'? Cause I'd be bored with out it? Or what? I swear I don't know, I just do it. Whatever it is. Oh it's legal, it's full feeling (not ever hungry), and it occupies a day, but what is it really?
Well, any way, girley.....I think you are probably a level headed, lovin' type of girl who has a wonderful husband that loves you. Keep up the good work!

Janice said...

You gotta love someone who'll bring back apple cores for their worm bins. (I've been known to carry home banana peels for our wormies (winter) and rose bushes (summer).)

psuklinkie said...

@Golden Years Gal: you've got me pegged! I predate my mother by about 22 years. =D Great reasons for conserving: being creative with your home is way more interesting and fun than a trip to walmart!
Thank you for the compliments, too. I've almost got that wonderful husband, too ... we'll be married in June of next year.
@Janice: My wormies are the only pets I have, so they get all the love! I don't know how much they'd appreciate rose bushes, though.. they turned up their noses at my carnations.