Here are a couple things I've picked up for the family in the last few months:
A solar phone charger! It can also charge the iPod and the Gameboy. And it looks like it could be used in place of a Ninja Star if I found myself in a fight.
At first I thought it worked too slowly. Then I realized that I'm so used to insta-anything by way of an electrical current, and I just needed to chill. The charger likes long, lazy stretches of full sun and then it works like a (slow) charm. I'm digging it.
And I got this. A kitchen composter. I was very nervous about using this at first, but it's amazing what nature can do when left to her own devices. It doesn't smell when the lid is on and it's not as bad as you think when the lid is off. Kinda vinegary-mild throw up, but never worse than that. It actually goes through cycles of smells, some better than others. I've been using the juice in the plant water. I love this thing and it has cut down on a tremendous amount of trash.
I don't want to frighten or preach (try to stop me!), but I'm moving to become a full-tilt environmentalist. Like, I'm not fucking around. It started a few years ago when I became vegan. Then slowly I made easy changes, but now I just look at everything wondering how much oil, water and energy it took to get to me. On who's backs, with who's blood am I consuming/wasting stuff? I'm not sure why everything seems so precious to me now. Obviously the more one reads and learns, the more you can't honestly put up with certain things anymore. I've kind of freaked myself out, but on the outside I just want it to be a positive thing, y'know? Just do stuff because it's the right thing to do without slapping someone in the face or trying to out-environmentist anyone. Or even if it looks kind of funny. Like when I hid the styrofoam cups when I first started working at my job a couple years ago. Everyone was like, "Where in the hell are the cups?" And then they'd find them behind the refrigerator or shoved in an odd crevice. Orange County seems many, many years behind this apparent hippy-freak environmentalist movement, but styrofoam? Why don't we just drink our coffee out of a handful of diapers? They still give me shit about that one, but they didn't buy styrofoam again. Wait, was I just face-slapping and one-upping? Maybe it's impossible to talk about this shift without sounding like a preachy fanatic. Sigh. One of my coworkers jokingly begged me not to become a Freegan. And then he got a ten minute speech on why freeganism isn't a bad idea. Nope, no in-your-face-slapping here! Eesh.
The girls and I participated in this International Coastal Clean Up Day on September 15th. We were stoked to go out and clean our part of the beach and we were prepared to find horrendous, dirty things. But our part of the beach was spotless. No lie. We were sifting through the sand to find the tiniest pieces of plastic or bottle caps. We were disappointed and encouraged all at once. We went home and decided that every time we walk the dogs, we'd pick up trash along the way so it wouldn't end up in the storm drains. There is way more trash, surprisingly, on the sidewalks. Everyday we're picking up much more than we did on the beach. A few days ago, I read that the combined efforts of the Santa Monica Coastal Clean Up collected 980lbs of trash. Whoa! I was like, where? Local divers did an underwater clean up off of the pier and collected most of it there, unfortunately. Up and down the coast, 2,000 spray paint cans were found as well as a 357 magnum air gun and a wedding dress. If all those items can't be used in a novel in the context of floating in the ocean, I'm not sure what can. We've already come up with a hundred stories of how the wedding dress made it into the sea.
Like many voracious young readers, I fell in love with the physical touch of a book when I was a kid. I loved the smell and the feel of a page. I'm a sucker still for a good looking cover. But unlike most of my book-loving friends, I have always been in love with a bookstore where brand new books are sold. I shunned the library as a kid because all I wanted were crisp new books to call my own, to write my name in. Eventually I believed I would own a house with a large library. There is no better decoration than shelves and shelves of books. Interestingly, I've always taken the girls to the library and had them check out books, but I've been a snob about my reading still. I couldn't let go of that crisp crack of a book's back. But this has changed in the last couple weeks. I know to be full-tilt, the constant consuming of stuff has to slow to a dead crawl. Even with books as much as I like the idea of supporting writers. That's important to me, but for now, I'm an Only to the Library girl. Monday is our day to go to the library and last time I actually checked out a book for myself. It's been a long time. I checked out Jorge Amado's The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell. The stamp on the inside read "Date Due July 2, 1998."
My other most recent shift has been with clothes shopping. Clothes shopping was once a source of joy for me in a way that shoving an entire piece of cake in your mouth is joyful. It has been laced with guilt for me for as long as I can remember because in the back of my mind I know paying retail is not the best use of my hard earned money. Oh, but it did make me feel high and giddy, if temporarily. Glutinous consumerism is played, and it feels stale to me especially as I read more and more about the evils of the garment industry. Marigoldie had been agonizing over the same, and it just solidified how I've been feeling as of late. Organic and fair trade clothing is so expensive and I believe worth the investment now and again, but it seems thrift-store shopping is the solution for now. I used to be the best thrifter, in high school, out of necessity because the only way I was ever going to dress cool was by paying Salvation Army prices. But since becoming an adult, I've been turned off by the process, which takes patience and vision. I had also grossed myself out by (maybe imaginary) germs in shoes and on fabric. I've started back slowly. I been perusing the higher-end thrift stores since I've been back home, and over the weekend I made one conscientious, anti-mass production thrift store buy for myself. A Corey Lynn Calter satin bolero. It wasn't exactly the Salvation-Army pricing I remember from decades ago, but I found out later it was still a fraction of what it goes for in the sucka's pit called a department store.