Saturday, June 9, 2007

A 'Cushy' Job!

Do you ever get disgusted with our 'disposable' society? I know I do! I think I was about 10 when I declared 'I hate plastic', and I wasn't talking about credit cards back then!

It frustrates me that appliances are built to last only 5-7 years! For example, my mum and dad had a washer and drier for over 30 years which required only minor repairs. They dryer was still in good shape when they replaced it, wanting to switch to a natural gas dryer. My husband and I have had 3 washer and dryer sets in 15 years of marriage! We have friends who are using a deep freeze that was his grandparents - I'm sure it is not as energy efficient as the newer models, but it is 40+ years old and going strong!

I hate knowing that we are filling up landfills with stuff that could be recycled, re-used, repaired or re-purposed! Often it costs more to repair an item than to buy new! Crazy! It was precisely this attitude that landed me my 'cushy' job!

When we took out our patio cushions a month or so ago, I realized they were terribly faded and I went shopping for new cushions. Our inexpensive set is 4 1/2 years old, and survived a minor tornado in which it was picked up and deposited without much damage - the umbrella was mangled, but everything else was fine! Our inflatable kiddie pool is another story - making the headlines of our local newscast as it flew though the neighbourhood, never to be seen again. But I digress!

After quickly mentally adding up my prospective purchase - a mere $285, and quickly recovering from a minor case of sticker shock, I politely inquired if the cushions ever went 'on sale', and I was immediately directed to the new patio sets which were priced at $300 - about the same as 7 new cushions (for our 6 tall chairs and a chaise lounge). This happened at at least 3 stores! I balked.

"What would I do with our old set?" I wondered since I don't host yard sales and I wouldn't give away chairs and cushions that are too shabby for our family to another family.

I went home and started the washer - washing them one by one, hoping to get one more season out of them. The fabric was more than faded though - it was rotten! I persisted, but was left with 3 out of 7 in tact.

I headed to JoAnn Fabrics, coupon in hand, and found that I could cover the 6 chair cushions for just under $90 and it would cost more to replace the stuffing for our lounge cushion than to buy a new complete cushion - go figure!

I debated for a few days - primarily because, while I like making one or two cushions, 6 was a bit much - and since each cushion has two parts - 12 was decidedly too much! Did I really want to buy a new lounge cushion just to tear off the new fabric and sew a matching cover for it? Then I realized that all that mildew proof polyester stuffing would end up in a landfill, so I bought the fabric and have been sewing it together with a 'jeans' needle and upholstery thread, neither of which my sewing machine is too fond of!

I'm almost done - thankfully, but you'll never guess what I've been thinking about while I have been sewing!

I've been thinking that I have a very cushy job compared to the men and women soldiers in Iraq who are giving their lives for our country. No comparison, really I know. I think that part of the reason that this war is so vital is that, we in North America, are so dependant upon the oil that region produces. I feel like it is my duty here at home to use as little of the products produced by that oil as I can - and polyester fiber fill may be only a drop in the bucket, but I'm doing what little I can. Or trying at least!

I read this recently on the message board at New Harvest Homestead:

Last week, Nancy Carter, from homesteadblogger wrote:

Did you know that Americans drain 2.5 million plastic bottles an hour?! In fact, more than 8 billion gallons of bottled water is consumed annually in the US and nearly 90% of those bottles wind up in landfills. My guess is most ladies on this homesteading list are VERY concerned about the millions of plastic bottles ending up in land fills as well as what a safe, economical and healthy alternative might be. In fact, the amount of oil consumed in the manufacture of
bottled water containers would power 100,000 cars for one year. THAT IS A LOT OF OIL???? Does in make sense to transport water all over the place (more oil consumption) when there are inexpensive and very effective water filters available? In fact, if an average family purchased bottled water in the handy containers for their family they would average spending $1000 or more a year.

Marilyn Moll at Urban Homemaker

I have not taken the time to verify these facts - I actually wouldn't know how to source that kind of information, but it is great motivation for me to
reduce our oil consumption and keep on being faithful with our recycling.

We use very little bottled water - we just keep filling up our own plastic water
bottles and never leave home without them! We have a Reverse Osmosis filter
system and our water is pretty good - especially with a squeeze of lemon. We
take fabric bags to the grocery store when we remember - we are trying to do
better there. We recycle those pesky plastic bags and ask for paper whenever we can. We wear cotton clothing. We run errands in groups so we don't have to fill
up as often. We try to be good stewards of the many gifts God has given our
family, and we do try hard to use our resources wisely.

I know it isn't much, but it's what we can do. Little enough. We are sending
men and women to fight a war to protect our country and preserve our quality of life - which includes (in my opinion) an inordinate dependence on the convenience of oil based products. I think I can be a little inconvenienced by sewing some cushions for our family rather than buying new - I know it's a stretch, but it's got me to thinking about other ways to save! What did homemakers do before zipper lock baggies and plastic ware food storage containers? What did grocery stores do before food came packaged in plastic? What did they put in soap and cosmetics before petroleum based products were produced? How can we lesson our dependance?

And now, you know I'm crazy - no need to wonder any longer!

I'll post a picture of my cushions when 'the boys' get back with the camera!

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