The Ides of March have come and gone, and I’ve successfully made it through the month without purchasing new or used threads or accessories.

Interestingly, I’ve been noodling around on Polyvore, and in my own closet. Something I’ve discovered: by hanging up my togs in different orders, I get more combos. Freeing. I’ve also seen several movies which have inspired me clothing-wise. Namely, Gangs of New York, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Blame it on Fidel. Sets, costumes, wonderful!

On to April.

Previously on The Year of No New Threads:

The Pledge1 Mo. Down2 Mos. Down


Think about this.

March 29, 2008

Finally reading Cradle to Cradle, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Holy cow.

…the agenda to recycle has superseded other design considerations. Just because a materials is recycled does not automatically make it ecologically benign, especially if it was not designed specifically for recycling. Blindly adopting superficial environmental approaches can be no better — and perhaps even worse — than doing nothing. … Plainly put, eco-efficiency only works to make the old, destructive system [of industry] a bit less so.

Has anyone else read this? Whaddya think?

Got a Small, Cool space? Care to verse it against other Small, Cool spaces for the chance to win fabulous prizes? Then click on over to Apartment Therapy’s Small, Cool 2008 contest page and get your photog on. The site, which has sponsored this design competition since 2005, has partnered with Room & Board to offer winners bragging rights and up to $2,500 in R & B gift certs. The victors, categorized by region, are crowned by a readers’ choice online vote. Homes must be < 850 square feet; photo entries are due by April 14. Voting commences March 31.

Naturally, the Living Smaller is considering entry. My house is small. And kinda cool. Will follow up if followed through.

Let the games begin.

The Environmental Warren

March 25, 2008

Feeling down and bourgeois. Colin Beavan, Mr. No Impact Man, last week wrote a searing post on the economics of ecological responsibility.

Yeah. It isn’t always easy to limit impact. In our fossil-fuel–hungry world, it isn’t always easy to live Small. It is easy, however, to “do our best,” to rationalize and allow breaks and cheats and special treats. Like yogurt in a plastic tub, for example. Like an occasional zip about town in an automobile. Like a magazine subscription — or four.

In his post, Beavan cites Bill McKibben, who warns against “environmental solipsism.” When we take our own lives as the truth, we run a great risk. As Beavan says:

One thing I’ve become keenly aware of is that living No Impact was entirely predicated on my privileged circumstances….Eating local is a no-brainer if you live in a rich neighborhood with the cool, local-food farmers’ market nearby. Not consuming resources is no problem if a life of purchasing power has provided you with most of what you need.

This echoes a few questions I asked in a previous post about The Beav: “Yes…purchasing used clothing and goods from thrift stores and craigslist is cheaper. Riding mass transit, as opposed to driving a personal vehicle, is cheaper, and walking is even cheaper than that. But how can I access craigslist if I don’t own a computer? How can walk to work if I can only afford to live in a sub-city?”

It is at this point that paralysis sets in, for me at least. How can I do better? How can I erode my impact, while still living what I consider a good life? One with minerally French wines and pints of Julie’s Peanut Butter Chocolate ice cream; one with the means to visit my family, who live 90 miles away? Or do I need to completely reevaluate my estimation of living well? Do I need to move to a monastery?

A friend and I were rolling over my recent post about Monica Hesse’s divisive WaPost dress-down of the eco-chic movement. She said something that stuck with me: the greener you try to be, the less green you’ll discover you are. It sounds confounding, but I think she’s onto something: the further down the rabbit hole you go, the more difficult the path. Warrens are big. Circuitous. Sometimes, unnavigable.

But is limiting impact unnavigable? On a personal scale, no. Difficult. Frustrating and challenging. But not unnavigable. On a worldwide scale, though? I’m not so sure.

Is it truly up to the wealthy, the 20 percent who can choose the Great Green Way by virtue of Beavan’s “life of purchasing power,” to make that green lifestyle viable for everyone else? He says:

As much as I’ve come to believe in the incredible power of a life lived in integrity with one’s values, and as much as I’ve seen evidence of the differences each of us can make with our life choices, I’d also like to think we have the power to make those same choices and benefits available to everyone.

I’m guessing this power of choice holds us choosers responsible for lobbying our legislators. For helping our local farmers band together to give them greater weight in grocery stores and state-funded feederies, like school cafeterias, for instance. To go beyond our individual eco-bubbles. And, maybe, pop some of those eco-bubbles.

ps. Does this mean I have to share my minerally French wine with everyone?

Book Bust

March 24, 2008


So. We’ve been in our tiny house for a while now, and we still haven’t got hold of that gratifying-if-dust-collecting pile of knowledge: our books. These days, we get most of our reads from the library, but a lucky few have traveled the wine-dark seas with us for years.

They’ve had several homes since our teenyhome occupation. A couple different shelves, with books typically double-parked for lack of space and largesse of number (agreed: impractical and ugly).

But, now that I’ve got spring cleaning on the brain, I’m reconsidering both my storage and my selection. For example: Husbear and I have two different sets — two! different! sets! — of Beginning Attic Greek language textbooks. These have struggled past our biannual book-cutting for years. Why? Because we might want to refresh our ancient Greek someday. Using two methods.

This is bonkers. This is. Bonkers. And that’s just the nib. I was finally persuaded to pare down to a single copy of The Great Gatsby (I had three) just last year. What is it about books that generates such tenacity? Hoarding instinct? Do they flatter us? Do we honestly think we will one day want to read through a glossy physics textbook again? Just because?

Whatever the case, I’ve decided it’s time for another book-cut. Space is at issue here. Space and aesthetics. Space and aesthetics and irrationality (two! different! sets!, I say again). This time, I need to be ruthless. Heartless.

Of course, surely I’ll want to reread My Life with Barbra. Right?

I need help. How do you store your books?