Wednesday, July 12, 2006


It has puzzled me for quite a long time why so few consumers have woken up to the fact that, by and large, things which are good for the ecology of our fragile earth are often also good for our pockets. I automatically think of such things as "eco-nomical". Yet people seem to find pointless consumption easier to cope with, or in some way laudable.

There is no need to conjure up conspiracy theories of some evil group of money-mad villains - "them" - who want "us" to spend, spend, spend regardless of the damage we inflict on the world, or the legacy we leave for our descendents. The fundmental principles of capitalism and consumerism drive human behaviour in that direction anyway, with no need for a dark and secretive world shadow meta-government.

(On a side note, I don't understand why more companies aren't happy to turn in a consistent annual profit, e.g. 10%, and prefer instead the riskier path of trying to improve their profit year on year. If I had huge sums of money to invest, I'd look for stable, reliable returns on my investment, and companies that aim high enough to return such profits dependably, but not so high that they risked blowing everything.)

I've been thinking for a while of generating a list of eco-nomical tips. The basics - turning off televisions rather than leaving them on standby, installing insulation in your roof, etc., are all covered more than adequately elsewhere. My list is more along the lines of things that I try to do that avoid consumption and save some cash at the same time.

Here are some of them:
  • Use a traditional shaving brush and soap rather than a can of shaving foam or gel
  • Use a traditional cut-throat razor and strop rather than disposable razors
  • Use an old-fashioned mop, with a replaceable, natural fibre head
  • Use an old-fashioned brush, with a replaceable head
  • Use empty glass jars for storage, reusing rather than recycling
I'm sure there are some others that are on the list but I've ceased to even be aware of them. Feel free to suggest any more, and I will adjust my lifestyle accordingly and let you know how I get on.


Jay said...

Use a towel instead of tissues for post-coital wipeups.

We used to waste SO much tissue, and bits of it would stick everywhere. Best thing is, you don't even have to wash the towel right away - just keep mopping up with it till it gets too stiff to use.

Qenny said...

jay: Excellent! That's definitely one that should have been on the list, but is so much a part of second nature these days that I had forgotten about it.

An alternative to keeping the same towel and letting it get crusty is to use a towel that's about the go in the wash anyway. If there is one.

The days of using tissues are long gone for me, although it still brings smile to my lips to recall those days. They don't call them mansized tissues because we have bigger noses than the ladies.

BEAST said...

To cut down on washing wear your pants for two weeks then turn them inside out and wear them for another two , when you are reaching that 3-4 week period , throw your pants at the wall if they stick , its probably time for a wash.

I read in a trekkers mag that if you wear your socks for a day , seal them in a plastic bag the next day , the anearobic action of the bacteria will 'self clean' the socks , after 24 hours they will be fresh to wear again.....anyone willing to try this out and report back!!! I think my socks would melt the bag

Qenny said...

beast: I like the idea with the socks, but I'm not sure I think I'd have to be in an expanse of wilderness on my own before I'd risk trying it. Maybe I should ask some hiking dyke acquaintances.

Al said...

Ignore 'Best Before' dates on foodstuff in your house. It won't kill you but it might not taste quite the same. 'Use By' is a different matter, but I'm sure there's a safety net of a few days past before it turns nasty.

If it doesn't smell funny and there are no strange growths on it eat it!

The Blind Flaneur said...

Here's one for you: paper hand towels or dryer?

Qenny said...

I'm tempted to say hand dryer, because of the environmental costs of paper production and transportation. Although it might be a trick question, since the trees from which the paper is made probably did a lot of good before they were chopped down.

Qenny said...

al: I'm completely with you on that. Best before and use by dates are just legal a arse-covering excercise rather than actual useful guidelines.

Qenny said...

Water bottles. Buy one and hang on to it for ever, refilling it. I once worked with a guy who thought it was really vile that I used the same bottle for more than one day. I think he was just gullible.

Qenny said...

Is it bad form to be adding as many comments to my own blog as I seem to be adding?

The Blind Flaneur said...

I don't know the answer to the towel/dryer conundrum, just throwing it out there

frobisher said...

You could invest in one of those Wash-It Laundry balls. The pellets inside the ball "active" water molecules producing electrolytic oxygen & hydrogen ions which lift dirt from clothing. So no more detergents!

And don't forget to grown your own weed!

Wyndham said...

Hire some slaves to carry you about the streets in a big velvet-covered chair. But don't collectively pay them more than you'd normally spend on petrol every week.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I hope you're not suggesting I use my transportation broom to sweep the floor with?

My only suggestion (because we were talking about it at work today) is don't bother with a coffin, just dump the body in the ground. I mean, one isn't going to need it any more. And who wants to hang around in a claustrophobic box for all eternity. When I finally leave this mortal coil, I'm going stalking!

Jay said...

1. When guests come over, make them tea from old teabags. When they complain, just sigh and say "I know, that's what you get for buying the 'gourmet' stuff. Never again - I'm sticking to PG Tips next time."

2. Supermarkets waste tons of paper every day on unnecessary receipts. Put your groceries straight into your bag and walk out without paying.

3. Collect hair cuttings from your local barber to thicken up pasta and noodle dishes.

First Nations said...

1.line dry laundry
2.hand wash. a dishwasher is murder on the environment.
3. manual can opener

coolbuddha said...

Don't throw out old newspapers and magazines: put them in a neat pile and eventually you will have enough for a nice sofa chair.

Tickersoid said...

Wow, I was only thinking today, how less green people are today than my parents generation. They were brought up in the 'Austerity' years. Used to split sheets logitudinally as they showed signs of wear and turn them inside out then restitch. So much less waste. I could go on but it'd be boring.

Paulo Sempre said...

nice. thanks



First Nations said...

tickersoid brings up an interesting point: my grandparents used things UP. they threw out very, very little indeed and never used chemical anything except some tobacco tea on the rosebushes for aphis. my gran was my first model for green living.

Brad Fitt said...

Go without for a week, you'll be glad you did, this entry reminded me of a poem my friend Vera Titsall wrote during the war.

Some people have it twice a week,
and then again on Sunday,
And if there's some left over,
They warm it up on Monday.

But what we need are meatless weeks,
to build up our reserves,
and not the old excuses,
like I need it for my nerves.

I know some people crave for it,
of that I have no doubt,
but even in the good old days,
I often went without.

So, come on, have a meatless week,
and help us win the war,
and when you get your next 'best end',
you'll enjoy it even more.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Hello? Where've you gone? You're not dead because I'd hear you clattering about the ether!

Qenny said...

No, I'm not dead, just dead busy!

I've loved the responses to this piece, and they seem to confirm my prejudices about how we've become such pointless consumers. Thank you, tickers, for enlightening me about the connection between the frugality of our parents and grandparents and the shortages caused by the world wars.

Henceforth, I am an ardent mender, re-user and recycler. If socks get holes, I'll darn rather than buy new. I'll get a string bag to carry my groceries (although I did like Jay's idea for avoiding all that unnecessary paper waste). I'm not sure I'll follow Brad's advice on meat, even though it was a pleasure to read, and firstnations tips on aphid control will have to wait until I get back to NZ and have a garden again.

Then I can relax in my garden on buddha's newspaper chair, having been transported there by the slaves suggested by wyndham, happily listening to frobisher's balls tumbling around in my washing machine. (Interested to know where you buy those, BTW.) And I can sit there until the day I die, then be chucked in a landfill and go stalking with IDV. Sweet.