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Sustainable Sunday

Today was a busy day, at home. Not in that horrible frantic busy way, like when you’re at work trying to keep up with a million emails as well as your regular work, plus the five other things your boss has given you to do just cos they know you can, and the printer is beeping and you have fifteen people all trying to talk to you at once, not to mention the seventeen people from the other side of the world all instant messaging you and your partner texting your phone. (I love you, honey!) I’m talking about the kind of busy that involves doing stuff you want to do. The constant, solid busy that makes you feel like you achieved something at the end of the day. Physical work. What can I say, I like doing things with my own hands.

What with work though, I don’t get as much time as I’d like to spend on those types of things, plus just time to de-stress. I always try to set my weekends up so one day is absolute relaxation, nothing else. Inevitably, that means the other day is full of chores. Yesterday was relaxation day (which included a trip to the shops, admittedly), so today was chore day.

Today, I:

  • Washed clothes and a quilt; full loads in a front loader, line dried (I had to start early so the quilt would dry)
  • Brushed and bathed the dog, then gave him his peanut butter kong ball, which is his favourite part of the bath routine
  • Read a book on making jams, jellies, marmalades, preserves, liquers, pickles, relishes and chutneys – there is a really good-looking recipe for an Indian style chutney with green mangoes and a interesting watermelon rind pickle recipe (the book is Preserves by Lindy Wildsmith)
  • Planned where I’m going to set out the carrots, onions and snow peas I’m planting next weekend, with the help of a handy dandy gardening site which tells you what you should plant when, based on your climate. We’ll need a trellis. Might see what Freecycle yields.
  • Scrubbed a bunch of plant pots (picked some nice ones to keep in the house, put some on the rack on the front verandah for herbs and planted veges in some others)
  • Planted some spinach and onions in aforementioned pots, from seed. I’ve never grown plants from seed before!
  • Made some final decisions about how to set up the compost bin. We’re going to use the old concrete laundry tubs under the house, but we still need to work out how to make a lid for it (anyone have any ideas?). Then we need to get some buckets to put under the plug holes and clean it all up
  • Hung out some solar lanterns to absorb some energy… we’ll see tomorrow if they work or not. They unfortunately got soaked by a torrential downpour in April so I’m not sure how functional they are going to be
  • Sorta kinda cleaned the bathroom cabinet
  • Worked on a scarf I’m knitting (will do this later tonight – it’s going to match a beanie I made about 3 years ago).

So all in all, a productive day! Plus Yankee Elv made a super yummy dinner of pumpkin and baked ricotta couscous and mixed roasted veges (pumpkin, zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, french shallots, onion and carrots), which was fantastic and just what I felt like. She is the best girlfriend/partner/wife* ever.

I had a good day.

Loodle's opinion of bath time is not high, as opposed to his opinion of his peanut butter kong ball.

Loodle's opinion of bath time is not high, as opposed to his opinion of his peanut butter kong ball.

*Sometimes I struggle with terminology, but the sentiment is the same.

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Reuse: Books

I like to read. I don’t get much time to do it these days what with work bending me over, but I miss it, and I read when I can. I usually have a couple of books on the go – one non-fiction, at least one fiction, and an old favourite that I can read in bed and put down easily (if my book is too interesting, I’ll get insomnia). I also usually have a fanfic on the go and read blogs like a crazy lady. Yeah, I like to read, ok?

Read green!

Read green!

Keeping up with the reading habit sustainably isn’t that much of a challenge either. Yes, books are made of paper – which means deforestation. But I’ve been getting around buying new books for years (mostly cos I couldn’t afford them, but lately the environment has been factoring into my avoidance of new books too). Here’s how.

Go to the library. There’s more books than you could ever want or fit in your house, and you can ‘try before you buy’, so to speak. If you hate it, that’s ok – it’s going back in two weeks anyway. If you live in a city, like me, you’re extra lucky, because often the council will run all the libraries in all the suburbs under one umbrella. If your local library doesn’t have the book you want, you can order it in from another library – usually free or for a nominal fee. Look out for the late fees though!

Go to the second-hand bookshop. This is especially useful when buying text books that you’re not planning on reading again after semester is over. You pay for what you get – the better the condition of the book, the more expensive. They’re usually cheaper than new, and just think – you’ve not chopped down another tree just to read! Book fairs are also good – think Lifeline Bookfest. Tonnes of cheap, pre-used books!

Swap and share books. We always have books at our place that don’t belong to us, and some of our books are always out with our friends and family. Again, this originally was a financial consideration for me – if my best mate already had the book, why would I go out and buy it when I could read her copy? It ends up being as good for the environment as it is for my pocket.

Get free books from Freecycle. There are always people giving books away. Sometimes friends, family and other folks are giving books away too. Pick them up where you can.

Buy second-hand books online – you can get local books from ebay, and Amazon if you’re in one of the local countries (which is not Australia). You can also buy books from eco-friendly book vendors, like Better World Books.

Read ebooks. I haven’t done much of this, but I do have Adobe Digital Editions on my work computer to read the ‘inspirational’ ebook the company gave us as a Christmas present. (They only started with the environmentally friendly book giving last year – before that it was mass hardcover book buying. I bet the authors who wrote the books  chosen as the present book each year had a massive boost in sales and probably hate us all now). If you really want that paper look (rather than the backlit monitor look), try a Kindle. Apparently they’re good. Personally I’d go a Netbook, but I’m not bothered by the backlight.

Read online. It doesn’t have to be stuff written by well-known authors, there’s plenty of good amateur fiction and non-fiction out there. You’re reading some now – a blog. There are millions of them. Fanfic is a another big winner, in just about any fandom you choose, and often branching off into original stories. Besides, reading online opens up the doors to what you can find to read. It might be hard to find a good lesbian crime novel in your local second-hand bookshop (who am I kidding, lesbian crime novels are a dime a dozen – maybe it’d be hard to find a good lesbian historical fic that isn’t Mills & Boon-esque), but online, it’s not that hard, and you can narrow it down even further based on the kinds of characters you’d like to read about. Heck, you can even write it. Don’t forget other kinds of reading too – news sites and websites with articles discussing niche areas you’re interested in, which often become less niche the more popular online reading becomes. (Think Afterellen.com, folks!)

So seriously… reading. It’s a pretty awesome thing. Your kids see you doing it and they’re more likely to do it. It keeps your brain active. It’s escapist, and sometimes, trust me, you need to get your brain out of your head and into a story. Don’t stop reading, don’t reduce it. Don’t think that reading sustainably is going to curtail your habit. If anything, it will broaden your literacy horizons. So remember, next time you’re looking for a book – read green!

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