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Call For Submissions: The biographies of things!

geraldine

This sweater was knit for me by my paternal grandmother, Geraldine. I call her Nana. She is 90 years old, 4’7” inches tall, and she wears a strawberry red wig on special occasions. Her hands are riddled with arthritis and her vision is fading, yet she didn’t drop a single stitch while constructing this garment. She knits while she watches football and baseball and pauses every once in a while to shout at the screen. She’s a Pats and a Sox fan of course. The sweater is made from muted green acrylic yarn. Both the front and back are cabled. It still smells like her rose perfume. When I put the sweater on it looks like I forgot to take the hanger out because the shoulders come to a point. This must have something to do with the way she seamed it, and maybe something to do with the fact that my shoulders are narrow. And so, I don’t wear it. I have written about my effort to purge (donate or sell) the things I don’t use. The thought of squirreling my belongings away and having them fall into “dormancy” makes me feel sad and a little anxious. Ideally, I want to adore the things I keep and use them for their intended purpose. In most cases, I’m ruthless about donating garments I know I won’t wear because I would rather these items recirculate so that someone else who might love them better can find them. And I can imagine that there is someone out there with broad and pointy shoulders who would look fantastic in this moss green cardigan. But my Nana knit it for me. And she didn’t drop a single stitch. So I keep it.

The finish line of my studies is in sight. For my thesis, I have been exploring issues of object attachment as they relate to the ways we consume and discard. It seems that at every turn, we are met with proof of the impermanence of things. Seasons change, landscapes shift, artifacts materialize and decay, and vibrant life grows, withers, then eventually expires. Psychologists, sociologists, cognitive scientists, theologians, and philosophers have long studied the ways in which our perception of this constant flux governs our behavior for better or worse. Because of the nature of the impermanent world around us, we form emotional attachments to people, places, and things. In many ways, attachment demonstrates one’s ability to recognize the preciousness, uniqueness, or thisness of entities. The bonds we form render us better caregivers and stewards of our surroundings and influence how we place value. We celebrate birth, admire growth, and commemorate transitions. But our attachments may also lead us to fear loss and death. Cases can be made for positioning oneself at either end of a spectrum of emotional attachment. Most of us experience tides of attachment and detachment throughout the course of our lives. Equipped with the ability to feel both in the face of impermanence, we can navigate complex human experiences. If we can examine the ways in which we form attachments, we may better understand how to use objects to remind ourselves of what is most meaningful and highlight the exquisitely beautiful and painful instances of life.

This is a call for submissions. I am collecting the stories of stuff. Please email me a description of any item you might feel inspired to write about. Describe one possession you feel attached to. It may be something you use everyday, or it may be void of utilitarian or aesthetic value to you, yet something prevents you from letting it go. It could be an item reminds you of a loved one or a love lost. Or maybe the initial cost of acquiring the item was too great to part with it. Perhaps it’s something you save ‘just in case’ you find a need for it in the future. Tell me the biography of this object you keep and describe your relationship to it. I will share your stories on this blog. I am curious to see what discoveries might come of lining these objects of attachment up next to each other.

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Red Hook Trading Post

TradingInstaG

Today I’m hosting an event in my hood with my dear friend Natalie at her creative workspace, Supersmith. If you live in NYC and you’re looking for an excuse to visit Red Hook this evening, come join us. Bring underused items of value such as books, apparel, kitchen stuffs, art/office supplies, holiday gifts that missed the mark, and more to swap for new-to-you items. Or just bring yourself! We’ll have a fire burning, snacks and libations, a sweet dog named Bones, and an 9-week-old kitten named Julio at the Trading Post.

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Experience gift cards

ExperienceGiftCardsOpera

Happy 2015! I have never put a lot of stock in making New Years’ resolutions. This is partly because I would like to believe that I’m capable of finding the resolve to make changes in my life—however large or small, on ordinary days throughout the year. Also, momentous occasions can be weighted by a kind of pressure that for better or worse, I tend to shy away from. But this year I have a few personal goals that I’m moving toward. One is to follow through on the gift “proposals” I made this year. In place of object presents, I gave “experience gift cards” to my loved ones. I made them from recycled, compostable rag paper, give to me by my friend Pam while I was visiting her Shotwell Paper Mill. On the front of each card I drew an image that corresponds with the activity described inside the card. In my remaining time at Parsons, I want to take advantage of the discounted student tickets available at institutions across New York City. These ticket deals often come in pairs, so I realized that this was something I could offer to my friends and family this holiday season and beyond. While coming up with experiences, I chose some individualized adventures and other “wildcard” activities that be enjoyed by anyone in my family.

ExperienceGiftsCardMaking

Experience gifts are my favorite kind to give. Selfishly, I love sharing in the activities. In the context of this blog, I have come to really prefer this kind of expression of love, which aims at making memories rather than waste. Because nostalgia is a mechanism that operates strongly in me, the experience gifts I’ve given and received are throughout my life are the most meaningful and memorable. Certainly, objects can be imbued with nostalgia too… but more on that in an upcoming post.

ExperienceGistCards

I was curious to see what would happen if I let everyone draw from the pile, so in a Christmas day experiment, I laid the cards on the dining room table and asked each member of my family to choose the images they were most drawn to. The specifically curated activities were each picked by the person they were intended for. I smiled ear-to-ear watching that unfold.  Then the wildcards were selected and all the holiday date gifts were set.

experiencegiftscardbotanic

ExperienceCardMom

This first date I made good on was with my mom. I took her to the Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln center to see La Traviata. The student discount is significant so check it out if you’re eligible. The show was beautiful. Growing up, my mother filled our home and our station wagon with the music of her favorite composers, bands, and folk singers. Like sponges, my brother, sister, and I learned the lyrics and melodies of everything she played for us. We’d sing along, dance around the living room, and perform impromptu concerts for her (many of them recorded on our video camera). To this day, when I’m sad, my mom will tell me to put on some music. Now, whenever I wonder what to give my mom, the resounding answer is to give back music.

I will post the rest of the experiences as they are shared. Here’s to many wonderful adventures in 2015.

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‘Tis the season of Waste and Want

Waste2Want4

While spending Christmas day with loved ones, I have been reflecting on my fall semester in the Transdisciplinary Design program at Parsons. I can hardly believe how quickly it passed. The design methodologies, technical skills, and new modes of thinking I learned are clearer from the retrospective “balcony” than they were on the mid-semester “dance floor.” I want to share a project I made for my portfolio. This post has a lot of photos because I geeked about how beautiful the process is.

In one of my classes, I was given the assignment of producing a physical portfolio, business card, or brochure that reflects my professional practice. I knew that I couldn’t simply make a digitally printed book on industrial paper manufactured from wood pulp and claim it’s an object that represents my No Trash principles. So, I consulted my enormously talented friend Pam DeLuco, who I’ve written about here on this blog in the past. I told her I was thinking about making the paper by hand and she advised me on different materials that I could scavenge from the trash and natural fibers I could forage to make the pulp. She then invited me out to California to make it in her beautiful studio, Shotwell Paper Mill, the only handmade paper mill in San Francisco. Because the cost of the flight was affordable and I knew I would also get to see my sister who lives in the Bay Area (we grew up out there) I decided to make the trip. Having access to Pam’s know-how, resources, and facilities was an incredible gift. We worked for five days around the clock to create a little book (a chapbook folded from a single sheet of paper) that both describes and embodies the ideas I have been tumbling around over the course of my semester.

JuteSacks

After meeting Pam at SFO, we headed straight to an evening workshop at Dandelion Chocolate where we indulged in holiday samples and collected jute burlap cacao bean sacks. The burlap sacks are used to transport dry food goods around the world but they are only used once. Pam has been collecting these from vendors around San Francisco who would otherwise throw them away. Processed, the jute fibers make a crisp, smooth, beige paper, which I felt would meet the aesthetic and utilitarian requirements of my project. The following morning we hit up Four Barrel Coffee for a few more coffee bean sacks before heading to the Mission district studio.

cuttingJute

To start, I cut the bags into one-inch squares with a pizza cutter-style blade and scissors. By the time I was finished with this first step, my right hand was numb. Pam is 5 feet tall and not much more than 90 pounds, but she must have strong hands from this work. During this process, I created trash—a dulled pizza-cutter blade.

Cacaobeans

As I dismembered the bags, I collected stowaway cacao beans, which fueled our work over the next several days.

CookingJute

Next, we submerged the cut pieces in a 10-gallon pot of water and cooked the fibers over a propane stove for several hours, occasionally stirring them with a long stick. It was a very special brew. The smell of the fermented cacao beans clings to the jute sacks and it filled the studio as the water bubbled and boiled.

BeatingJute

Once the fibers cooked down, I rinsed them until the water ran clear. Pam’s business partner Drew Cameron taught me how to operate the Hollander Beater and we added the fibers to the trough. Drew explained that the beater does not cut the fibers but rather it compacts them, which in a sense makes the fibers “grabbier,” so that they can form the hydrogen bond necessary to make a sheet of paper.

Pulpcheck

To check the beaten pulp for inconsistencies, we drew a sample from the beater and held it up to the light. No clumps. Time to make the sheets.

SeedPaper

I decided to make seed paper. I felt that this element made the piece conceptually stronger. I wanted to create a prompt for users to lovingly move the object I produced into the “disposal” phase of its life. By making the paper plantable, I hope that those who interact with it will one day bury the jute paper in soil and in turn feel rewarded for their stewardship by the food reaped from the sown seeds. I rode Pam’s bike to the Scarlet Sage Herb Co. to pick up their very last packet of heirloom lettuce, which I chose because this seed is hard enough that it doesn’t germinate in the sheet before the paper can dry.

PullingPaper

“Pulling” the paper was one of my favorite parts of the process. We added the pulp to a bath of water, sprinkled in the seeds, and pulled a papermaking mould and deckle through the mixture. The fibers catch on the screen as the water drains through. The paper is then “couched” or pressed onto pieces of felt that are pressed between wood boards and dried.

OldNewType

While the paper was drying, I got to work setting type to letterpress print the text of my book. After making the paper by hand, it wouldn’t have seemed right to run it through a laser printer. I chose sans serif, no frills, News Gothic 12 point font. I did print a digital copy of my text onto a white sheet of paper to use as a reference while I worked. As I sat there lifting each letter out of the tray, I was struck by the strangeness of using a modern technology to assist the antiquated process.

TypeSetClose

This part took many hours. In order to justify the text on the pages of my tiny book, I was editing on the fly, searching for synonyms, unessential words, and rephrases in order to make each line fit. The letterpress printed version is essentially a translation of the Microsoft Word document I had been tweaking before arriving in SF. The contents of this book are ideas that I have been working with very closely for many months. But setting these thoughts in led type has deepened my relationship to them.

FinishedPaper

After the paper was dried and the type was set, it was time to print a test sheet.

PressSpins

So we took the press for a spin.

ProofingType

And discovered some (ironic) typos.

Waste2Want2

Finally, we got all the kinks out and ran the edition through the press. The seeds broke the type in some places but I think it was worth it to have them in there. I can’t wait to plant one of the books. 

Wast2Want1

I hand illustrated and signed each edition copy, because I’m particularly interested in the tension between the preciousness of the object and its true disposability. When I posted an image of the finished piece on instagram, a friend commented, “But why would you want to plant such a beautiful little book?!” My answer is: Because it can be as beautiful in its death as it is in its life. I’m pleased with the end result and so grateful to Pam and Drew for their guidance and unfettered support throughout the project. It’s a glimpse at what I’ve been up to and what I’ve been thinking about.

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Moving and shaking

movingchest

This week was an exceptionally busy one. I have a bit of overlap with my leases in Brooklyn and Providence so even though I’m still wrapping up work in the Ocean State, I took some time to move most of my stuff down to my new apartment. With help from my incredibly generous friends and family, I spent the last several days packing, schlepping, unpacking, painting, cleaning, and setting up my new home.

My last move was just across town, so relocating without producing any trash wasn’t very difficult. I made many trips back and forth, wrapping things in blankets, strategically placing them in my car or a borrowed pickup truck, and I took care not to hit any bumps or make any hard turns. This time around I have a 3-4 hour drive between my old and new home so packing without boxes, bubble wrap, newspaper, and tape required some more careful consideration. My best friend and I rented a 4’ x 8’ U-Haul trailer and hitched it to his small pickup truck. We managed to fit the bulk of my belongings in this rig. My bed and breakfast table pack flat so that helped a lot. I wrapped some of my fragile ceramic and glass kitchen wares in my sheets and comforter and placed them into my small blanket chest. I was really satisfied with that parcel. It traveled well.

movingcrate

I own quite a few glass jars and bottles, in which I store dry and liquid bulk food and hygiene goods. I transferred those in some borrowed milk crates. The crates that were tightly filled and placed at the front of the trailer (closest to the hitch), like the rectangular one pictured above, made the drive without a problem. But I did have some casualties in a smaller square crate that wasn’t quite Tetris packed like the others. The items in that crate had a little bit of room to rattle against each other. It was also at the back of the trailer, which means it probably had a bumpier ride than the others. It was also one of the last things to go and by that point, already tired from packing and loading and eager to get on the road, I’d gotten a little careless. But I really should have taken the time to stuff some clothes into the gaps between the fragile objects to prevent them from jostling around, because unfortunately the broken glass can’t be recycled and now it will end up in the landfill. Plus, one of the vessels that broke was a bottle of red wine vinegar, which made quite a pungent mess in the trailer.

movingfrontroom

Still, all things considered, I am pleased that I didn’t have to wrestle with a single cardboard box. My place is scrubbed clean and painted with low VOC paint. I will recycle the empty paint cans and the roller will likely become trash (couldn’t figure out a way around using one and I’m not sure that I can get it to come clean even with the most thorough soaking). My mom always says that any place we choose to live is basically just four walls, a floor, and a roof, it’s the things we chose to fill that box with and how we decide to arrange them that make it feel like a home. I thought about that sentiment this week, as I hung my ceramic planters in the windows and art on the walls (all made by my gifted, beloved friends).

movingkitchen

I thought about it as I set up my new kitchen. I took the doors off the cabinets so that I could see all my tableware, stainless steel containers, and jars full of ingredients. I find that having open shelving makes my kitchen more functional. Besides, having cabinet doors that swing open in a space as narrow this one is a little cumbrous. Heads are bound to get bonked. Eventually I would love to remove the cabinets altogether and replace them with extended open shelving. It will give me more storage room and I think it might make the space feel a little bigger. In good time. For now I will make the units that are there work for my purposes.

movingbedroom

Setting up my bed and unpacking my clothes were two other tasks I needed to tackle before I could feel settled. I placed some herbs and a small compost container on the fire escape outside the bedroom window. Today the dry breeze carried the smells of a backyard barbecue and the nearby water through the apartment. Little by little the space really is starting to feel like home. Now I’ll be able to focus on starting school, knowing that I have a great spot to return to each day.

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Key factors

keystobrooklyn

This week I signed a lease on an apartment in Brooklyn. Though I’d been amply warned about the challenges involved in finding a place to live in NYC, the undertaking proved even trickier than I’d anticipated. As a student, I will only be able to work part-time and my modest budget limited my options from the get go. Securing a dwelling that met my requirements took a good deal of time and energy, but in the end my tenacity paid off.

Feeling comfortable and at ease in my immediate space has always been important to me. In addition to finding an agreeable, clean, functional, sunlit interior, there were many other factors to consider before choosing a place to call home in a city as large as New York. My desire to live without making any trash further complicated my decision. Of course, the proximity of my home to my school and access to public transportation are both of great importance. But I was also thinking about access to resources, like bulk food vendors. And with each space I looked at I also had to consider whether or not I would be able to compost at home or nearby. Trying to familiarize myself with these factors as an out-of-towner was no easy feat. Nor was it easy on my feet. Despite my best effort to employ a daily blister prevention program of strategically placing paper medical tape on my toes and heels, while hoofing it from neighborhood to neighborhood on some of the hottest (sweatiest) days of July, I wound up with some rather raw dogs. But all the walking was worth it. I’ve started to get to know some neighborhoods, trains, eateries, and grocery stores in Brooklyn. After several weeks of searching I was able to settle on an apartment that seems to be a good compromise on everything I was looking for in a home.

I found a reasonably priced, no broker fee apartment in sleepy Red Hook. I really love the neighborhood. There’s an excellent grocery store that stocks an impressive variety of bulk foods and organic produce, an impressive community farm, some lovely garden centers, and a handful of great restaurants. One drawback to the location is that there are no trains that go directly to the neighborhood, which means that I will have a longer walk, a short bike ride, or a bus ride to get to and from the train into the city every day. But while I was hemming and hawing over whether or not I could tolerate the commute, a dear friend pointed out that I happen to be someone who is willing to pass on certain conveniences in order to experience other things of value that support a good quality of life. Hearing this from someone who knows me well made me realize that I’m quite capable of making the best of my time there. Of course it’s possible that come wintertime, I may grow weary of the commute, in which case I may choose to relocate for my second year of school, but for now I’m just excited to give it a try.

newsaddle

Meanwhile back in Providence again, I’m finishing up work projects, and preparing for my move. Being without my car has been great so far. I took my bike for a tune-up and replaced the synthetic squishy, leaky gel saddle with a quality leather one. I returned the gel saddle to my friend who built my bike for me. He said that despite the tear he could still make use of it. So far I’ve found the leather saddle to be a lot more comfortable than the gel. I don’t feel like I’m slipping and sliding the way I felt on the padded seat. Now that it’s the only vehicle I own and because it will ease my daily commute to the train once I’ve moved, I’m more focused on taking great care of my bike.

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So long, old girl.

carsale

Some progress to report: today I sold my car. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, especially since I moved into my current apartment, which is only 3 blocks from my office at Brown. The vehicle was good to me for years, facilitating trips to the beach, visits with family, and co-op stock ups. But now that it’s gone I feel a tremendous weight lifted as I am no longer financially responsible for maintenance, repairs, insurance, car taxes, registration, and of course fuel. Oh, and parking tickets. All that has been transferred to a very nice man from Cranston. He bought the car for his daughter who, as he brags, just graduated from high school at the top of her class.

I’m left with my feet and my bike, which are more than sufficient modes of transportation for the remainder of the summer here in Providence and is certainly all I’ll need once I move to NYC. It’s a lovely season for the extra exercise. Now that I’ve sold the car I can justify tricking out my bike. Just kidding. But I am going to invest in a nice saddle. My friend who built the bike up for me chose my current saddle. Much of my ride was assembled with components he had lying around the shop he works in, which was a fantastic money saver and I’m pleased he was able to repurpose so many used parts. But unfortunately my overstuffed gel seat is starting to deteriorate and ooze sticky synthetic material onto my backside while I’m riding, especially on super hot days. It’s not a good look. So I’ve begun searching online (mostly craigslist and ebay) for a lightly used leather saddle. There seems to be a pretty good inventory out there.

Little by little, the pieces required for my transition are starting to fall into place, and I grow more excited as my first day of class draws nearer.

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Circulation

movingsale

It’s been nearly three weeks since my last post. My longest update lapse since I started blogging in October 2011. There are lots of changes taking place in my life right now and I’ve been taking time to wrap up chapters and plan for the adventures ahead. I’ve decided to go back to school to study sustainable design and waste management. So I am stepping down from my wonderful position as a film archivist at Brown University, and moving out of my beautiful 230-something year-old Providence apartment to get after graduate studies in New York City. It’s a bittersweet departure for me. I’ve loved my time in this little city and when I think about leaving, it’s easy to get sentimental about the relationships I’ve forged, and the fantastic projects I’ve been a part of. Leaving my job, home, and friends in the twilight of my twenties to become a full-time student again is a bit nerve-racking, but the idea of staying still, unchallenged and unchanging, troubles me more than the idea of taking risks.

I’m excited to engage in new modes of thinking in the company of faculty and fellow students. I hope to work to carve out initiatives that can change patterns of behavior that lead to waste—particularly food and packaging waste. I’m looking forward to the challenge of taking my No Trash Project to New York, a city that moves at the speed of convenience, where disposables spatter daily life at an astonishing rate. Here in Providence, I’ve hit my stride with this project and I’m quite comfortable in my routine. I know that certain Zero Waste practices (like composting food scraps) may prove more difficult in the big city, but if there is one thing I’ve learned about myself over the past 26 months, it’s that I can be very determined and resourceful. Luckily, there’s no shortage of resources in NYC, so I know for sure that I will be able to find vendors who stock package-free goods. Actually, I’ve already begun researching trash-free grocery sources and I now have a growing list of businesses to visit once I’m down there.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty to do in the coming weeks. I need to finish work projects, sell my car, pare down my belongings further, find a place to live in Brooklyn, and move. It’s a lot but I’m making progress. As a Rhode Island School of Design alum, I have the privilege of holding tag sales on campus. Foot and vehicle traffic is pretty busy at the permitted locations. In the past, when I timed it right, I have managed to do pretty well there. So I’ve been combing through my cupboards, bookshelves, dresser drawers, and closets pulling objects for the pile. Faced with the question, “Do I really want to move this thing?” decisions about what to keep and what to put back into circulation become clear. I will donate whatever I’m unable to sell.

I’d love to pledge to reestablish my regular posting routine, but that may be an unrealistic commitment at this time. However, I will say that sharing my trials and triumphs on this blog has been one of my favorite aspects of the project. It’s been rewarding as a journaling exercise but even more so as a means of communication with people around the world. I am habitually snapping photos of all things trashy and trash-free, writing posts in my head. Making the time to actually compose them has been tricky lately but I intend to continue share as much as possible. Besides there’s so much uncharted territory ahead (no trash moving, for instance) that I think is worthy of the humble NTP spotlight. So to those readers who are still with me: Many, many thanks. You motivate me to get busy chasing my dreams.

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Happy Mother’s Day

mom

I’m feeling very fortunate to have been able to spend today with my mom. My gift to her was an experience. No object gifts, no cards, no trash (she’s come to expect those terms from me). I took her to a concert held in an incredible space at one of her favorite museums. Nine violinists, four violists, three cellists, and two bassists played a program of classical and contemporary music in a small, “round” theater (it was actually more cubic than round). The acoustics were amazing. Later we went out for dinner. It was a great day.  I’ll never forget it.

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Picnic trick

tiffinit

A colorful homemade, trash-free meal on a grey and dreary day at work. I love my 3 tier tiffin. Thank you J and P for this beautiful, functional gift! I’ve been putting it to good use.

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Lending love

omnivore

Last week I rode my bike to my public library to check out a book that has long been on my must-read list. When I arrived I discovered that my library card had expired. I hoped it could simply be reactivated but was told I needed a new card instead. When I asked why, the woman at the circulation desk said she wasn’t sure exactly, but it had something to do with the barcode identification system in place. Bummer. I went ahead and got a new one. Being able to borrow books is important to me, especially in the context of my project.

I’ve been slowly working to pare down my personal library to a small collection of novels, textbooks, and oversized art books that I still use as reference tools for work and personal projects. There was a time when I used to tote around quite a few more, lugging them from one apartment to the next, just so that they could sit unopened on a shelf. Many were books that I had read once, but had no desire to reread. Some were books that were given to me that I never had any desire to read in the first place. I used to feel quite guilty about donating unwanted gifts, but that particular kind of guilt is a mechanism that no longer operates very strongly within me. Storing, keeping, collecting, stashing, or hoarding things that become untouched, unused, and unloved makes me feel far worse. I like to think that donating my neglected belongings restores their potential, giving them a new chance to serve their purpose and/or provide someone with pleasure.

The woman at circulation withdrew a new card for me from a drawer. My stomach flipped a little when I saw that it was more of a card “kit”, which included a mini keychain card and a standard wallet card, held together by a perforated bit of plastic. I wonder why the card set design includes the disposable piece? Couldn’t they be manufacture so that the mini keychain card was attached directly to the wallet card? And how are all these cards made anyway? I looked it up and found this video, which shows how credit cards are manufactured. There are many components that go into swipe cards of all kinds (credit cards, gift cards, identification cards, etc…), but they’re mostly made up of sheets of polyvinyl chloride acetate (PVCA). In the past I’ve struggled to find information on the recyclability of expired cards. My Rhode Island Recyclopedia doesn’t list them. So I’ve been saving a pile with the intention of passing them off to my artist friends who can use them in studio processes (mixing and spreading glue for instance). But while working on this post I came upon a company called Earthworks System that apparently collects and processes expired cards to produce recycled PVC resource material for new cards. Consumers can mail old cards to the company’s facility in Ohio. It seems like one of the better options I’ve found for diverting this item we depend on so heavily from landfills. Certainly security is an issue that must be considered when it comes to the disposal of credit cards. We’re taught to cut them up into little pieces to prevent fraudulent activity. I wonder if Earthworks System has any solutions or suggestions for dealing with cards that have personal and information on them. Do they accept shredded card material? Shredded or not shredded, if the card information is expired, is it safe to send it in the mail? Hmmm, I will do some more thinking and investigating on this issue.

So when will my new library card expire? Apparently as long as I continue to actively borrow from the Ocean State Library system, it will never expire. Fantastic! Incentive to keep up with my reading list. Meanwhile, I am devouring the book above. Gah, I don’t know how it took me so long to pick it up.

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A new (old) thing

icetray

With the exception of a small jar of stevia seeds, my freezer has stood empty for a long while. It is of course void of any packaged frozen foods and because I’m lucky to be able to access fresh foods year-round, I rarely have occasions to freeze foods. While editing down the belongings in my kitchen to the few essential items I use regularly, I donated my plastic ice cube tray. Even in the dog days of summer I prefer most of my drinks iceless (though I do sometimes like to use ice to cool down warm water, home brewed tea, or kombucha) and I dislike the taste of ice cubes that have been frozen in plastic. So I didn’t think I had much need to hang onto it. But when I recently banged up my knee after taking a good tumble on a morning run, I wished I had some kind of cold pack to reduce the swelling around my injury. I did a search for plastic-free ice trays and discovered that stainless steel trays like the ones on the market from the 1930s to the 1950s are being manufactured again as an alternative to plastic trays. I purchased this one from Life Without Plastic. It works really well and it makes perfectly tasteless ice. If the ejection lever gets frozen to the cubes (not uncommon with this design), running the tray under warm water releases the lever, making it easy to lift. This beautiful, functional tool may even inspire some frozen treat experiments. And for first aid purposes, I’m thinking about investing in a good old fashioned hot water bottle to fill with my steel tray-made cubes the next time I bust up my body, since I won’t be using plastic bags to make cold packs.

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Tiffin

tiffin

I have amazing friends. Just received this fantastic gift from two dear ones—a 3-tier steel tiffin with two plate separators. Can’t wait to test drive this beauty once the winter storm stops. It will be so perfect for take-away and picnics!

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Glove love

gloves

The index finger on the left hand of my beloved SmartWool gloves gave out this winter. It started to unravel at the beginning of the season and I tried to tie it off but it didn’t hold and now I’m exposed to halfway down my proximal phalanx. It’s been fine when I’m on foot and can pocket my hands, but on really cold days while I’m riding my bike, it can get pretty uncomfortable. I’ve been trying to buddy up in the middle finger, but it’s a tight fit. So it was time for new pair. I searched around for some used gloves in local thrift and consignment stores but couldn’t find any that had much life left in them. So I picked up the above beauties from the Moonlight Rose Alpacas stand at the Wintertime Farmer’s Market. Moonlight Rose breeds and raises alpacas in Swansea, Massachusetts less than 20 miles from Providence. I’ve long admired their hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, and socks on display at the markets. The grey, brown, beige, and white colors are the natural alpaca fiber colors. No dyes are used. Unfortunately the gloves did come with a plastic tagging barb (not recyclable) that holds the company’s paper tag to their products. I find it’s really hard to avoid these little guys when shopping for clothing, even when you are buying used garments. They are so soft and warm and I’m really happy with my purchase. It feels good to buy a locally sourced and produced pair. Hopefully with proper care they will last a long time!

Meanwhile I have to decide what to do with my old pair. I considered the possibility of composting them but they contain 1% elastane and 4% nylon (the other 95% of the yarn is merino wool). I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to cut the rest of the fingers off and sew the ends well enough to prevent unraveling and make them fingerless gloves for warmer weather or for working in the cold studio or archive. I’m determined to stretch their life out, repurpose, or recycle them somehow.

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Ship shape

heath

I recently received a gift of some Heath ceramic plates for my birthday. I’ve always admired this Sausalito, California-based company’s designs and environmentally conscious practices. Founded in 1948 by ceramicist Edith Heath, the company has upheld the values of timeless design, fair work conditions, and sustainability. Their lower heat, once-fired pieces are made to be durable enough to last for generations. Each piece contains some recycled clay. I will cherish my dishes.

Every time I receive a shipment, whether it’s something I’ve ordered myself because I can’t find a local source or something that’s been sent by someone else, I cringe at the sight of any plastic or foam packing materials. If I receive a cardboard box, I find myself holding my breath before opening it, dreading the possible discovery of packing peanuts, Styrofoam molds, bubble wrap, or inflated plastic air bags inside. The box from Heath arrived sealed with paper tape. Fantastic. As I cut into it I was thrilled to find that the protective filling was 100% paper! I reached into the paper “peanuts” and pulled out a plate. There was no bag, no wrapper, no tape. It still had some dry clay dust on it, and I instantly imagined the factory it was produced in. But there wasn’t a single chip, crack, scuff, or ding. The plates were stacked on top of each other, separated simply by squares of corrugated cardboard. I composted all the materials. My bin is always in need of the carbon.

I contacted the company via email to express my satisfaction with both their product and their shipping materials. I asked who the manufacturer of the “peanuts” was and how long they had been using them. A woman named Stephany got back to me and this is what she wrote,

“We are one of just a few companies who proudly ship all of our products with ExpandOS, a great packing system made from 100% post-industrial waste and that is 100% reusable and recyclable. Heath has been using ExpandOS for at least six years. Our philosophy on packaging is that it’s wasteful, but we want our products to be safe. In addition to ExpandOS for shipping, we wrap our products purchased in our stores in good old-fashioned newsprint. We give it a second use and it’s recyclable. We encourage reusable Heath totes in lieu of gift boxes and encourage customers to use a Heath tote or their own bag. We do use brown bags when customers need it.”
The ExpandOS packing system carried beautiful ceramics safely across a great distance to my door. I hope to see more companies with mail order services electing similar packaging systems.
Read more about Heath’s environmental integrity here.
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The perfect thing

linentowels

My new lightweight, unbleached linen towels will replace my old heavy terrycloth cotton towels. The cotton towels are the only items in my laundry that I find sometimes need to be machine dried. They are quite thick and dry very slowly on the line, especially if there isn’t a lot of air circulation, which means that line drying them inside my apartment during the winter months doesn’t work very well. If they stay damp for too long they grow mildew. They also dry scratchy and matted down when hung on the line.

I’ve read a lot about linen and it’s many wonderful properties. Linen is made from flax fiber and it has the ability to absorb water and dry very quickly. This stack of four standard size bath and four hand towels takes up about the same area as one of my terrycloth cotton bath towels. I’ve used the linen towels after showering now and I love them. I really notice the incredible absorbency when I wrap one around my hair. The linen draws out so much moisture and my hair air dries so quickly afterwards, which is great on cold winter days. And I’m amazed by how quickly the saturated linen dries on the towel rack or on my indoor clothesline.

My cotton towels are a little ratty but still quite useful. I haven’t decided exactly what I’m going to do with them yet but found some great ideas here. I love the suggestion of donating old linens to a local animal shelter, so I plan to make some calls to see if any near me could use mine. I also know some artists who would appreciate a donation to their studio rag pile.

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Giving

succulents

succulents2

This year I am giving few physical gifts to friends and family for the holidays. I filled the ceramic pots I made with colorful succulents and will present those to loved ones without any wrapping, but I have wrapped some of my unplanted pots and hand thrown bowls with Furoshiki style cloth—something I’ve always wanted to try. There are many wonderful illustrated directions available online and I found this video, which was incredibly helpful! The wrapping is beautiful, elegant, and easy to give to the gift receiver or keep as the gift giver to reuse.

ceramicbowls

furoshiki

The rest of the gifts I will give this year will be experiences. Surprise field trips. And because my wonderful friends and family read my blog, I will wait to share those adventures until after they’ve been had! Sharing good food and conversation with loved ones this week is precious time spent.

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Bed frame

Built a planting box today for my tomatoes. My landlady suggested the project and I took her up on it. I will put it in a corner in the driveway that gets a lot of sun and hopefully they’ll grow well there. The wood is salvaged from outside the Ajay Land Company building where I share a studio. There was some slight warping to the found boards, so the box turned out a bit wonky, but it will serve it’s purpose well. Now I need some dirt!

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Father’s day

I love giving plants as gifts. I gave my dad a black cherry tomato and a Thai basil for Father’s Day. The tomato will have to be repotted in a larger container, but otherwise these are low maintenance plants that my parents can grow right outside their kitchen. The basil is so delicate and sweet and the tomato is one of my favorite cherry varieties. When I was growing up, my dad used to make me salads and sauces from the tomatoes and basil my parents grew every year in their vegetable garden. They no longer have a vegetable garden, so they’ll make good use of these.

The irises I gave my dad last year are flowering now. As they spread, there will be more blooms each year.

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Scrub update

I think it’s finally time to retire this hemp dish washing “scrub”. It’s the same one I made and started using back in November. There are holes in it now, which I think resulted from snagging the yarn on silverware, but It has held up remarkably well for the amount of work it’s done. I can’t imagine ever returning to a traditional dish sponge. One of the things I love most about this little knitted square is that it never smells bad. I just wash it with soap and water and hang it on a nail to dry between uses and it stays quite clean. I loathe the smell of a cellulose sponge after it’s picked up billions of bacteria. Hemp is naturally mildew resistant and antimicrobial. Now that this one is starting to fall apart, I’ll cut it up into little pieces and throw it in the compost. I knitted a new scrub to replace it.

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Rubber bands

Finding completely naked produce isn’t easy. Plastic bags, mesh sacks, cellophane, twist ties, tags, stickers, baskets, boxes, and even Styrofoam trays fill the display stands and shelves of nearly every grocery store in the country. Even at my local farmer’s markets, some venders use plastic bags to parcel out salad mix and berry boxes to hold berries and cherry tomatoes.

I’ve learned to avoid all of these offenders and still eat a huge variety of fruits and vegetables, but I decided a while ago to make an exception for the rubber bands that tie together bunches of herbs, dark leafy greens, beets, radishes, and stalky vegetables. A rubber band is a useful thing, but I’ve found that I seldom have a reason to use them and I’m having trouble finding anyone else who does. The grocery store won’t take them back, and I have stocked my office supply closet at work with at least a year’s supply for the entire staff. I’ve also been trying to pass them off to other artists in the building where my studio is located, but no one seems to be chomping at the bit for rubber bands.

I plan to ask venders at the farmer’s market this Saturday (the first outdoor market of the season!) if anyone can reuse them. The best case scenario would be to return them to the source. I’ll post an update when I find a solution.

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Museum of Natural History project

To my great pleasure, my professional projects occasionally overlap with my No Trash Project. I’ve mentioned before that I work on an experimental film series called The Magic Lantern Cinema. The name is taken from an early image projection technology that was developed in the 17th century. My co-organizers and I program monthly screenings around Providence. We present short films in both digital and celluloid film formats. I recently had the opportunity to work with the Museum of Natural History to program a show in their planetarium. Among the museum’s archive holdings is an extraordinary collection of nearly 6,000 antique glass magic lantern slides. Amazingly they also have a magic lantern projector that was donated by a volunteer.

For several months I worked alongside my friend and co-organizer Josh, perusing the contents of the collection, selecting slides to be projected against the star field on the dome of the planetarium. We also selected short films on 16mm to screen next to the slides. Two musicians programmed an electronic soundtrack that they performed live during the show.

While working in the attic archive (behind the clock on the face of the old building) I discovered fantastic images of plants and fossils, insects and mammals, geological forms and celestial objects. I learned that the slides were originally used for educational purposes. The public came to view slides during museum lectures.

Choosing images from this incredibly rich collection to screen during an hour-long program was a difficult task. We needed guidelines to curate by. Since we would be projecting a throw of still and moving images onto the rotating star field illuminated by the museum’s Zeiss star projector, it seemed appropriate to imagine that we were projecting from Earth into outer space. Inspired by the Voyager Interstellar Spacecraft mission, a subject that’s touched on in the Museum’s regular Saturday planetarium program, we began to suppose that we were programming a show for an extra terrestrial audience. What images would we choose to represent our world (natural and manmade) if we had the attention of alien life? And how would our selections of the slides change if we had never in our lives encountered the forms contained in them?

So we began to do some research on Voyager 1 and 2 to find out how the contents of the time capsules were chosen. In an intro by Carl Sagan in the book Murmurs of Earth, Sagan talks about organizing a group of scientists to offer advise on how to determine the messages on board such interstellar time capsules. Barney M. Oliver, the vice-president for research and development at the Hewlett-Packard Corporation at the time suggested that because the chance of such an encounter is so infinitesimal, the real function of such a project is “to appeal to and expand the human spirit, and to make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence a welcome expectation of mankind.”

This quote really grounded my thinking about the slide selection. Because our real and present audience would be human, conversations between Josh and I moved into what the experience of this kind of show could offer our own species. What we came to was the notion that by projecting these images of quotidian objects and familiar forms of life in the context of such a unique program, we may be able to defamiliarize them, and ultimately provide a chance at a renewed relationship to the things pictured.

Okay, so if you’re still with me you may be wondering what all this has to do with reducing waste. And I promise I’m getting to that. Another thing that struck me in Carl Sagan’s intro was when he writes of the uniqueness of our planet. Though scientists think now that it is likely that there are innumerable other planets in the universe that have seen the origins of life and even the evolution of life forms to the development of intelligence, our Earth is like no other. He writes that, “creatures on such other planets would be astonishingly different from human beings or any other such creatures that inhabit our little planetary home, the Earth. Like history, evolution proceeds in a multitude of small and unpredictable steps, the variation in any one of which producing profound differences later on.”

For me, contemplating that uniqueness does serve to heighten my appreciation for the natural world around me. I think it’s important to put ourselves through exercises that prompt us to reconsider the things that we encounter daily. Pairing slides of celestial objects with images of elements from this world allowed me to practice the wonderful exercise of zooming way in and out on planet Earth, from geological forms of the Grand Canyon to the hairs on the head of a bumble bee. I feel it’s helping me condition my brain to zoom in and out on the problem of personal waste production, from the piped hills of a modern day landfill to the synthetic bristles on my compostable toothbrush.

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Spring cleaning

Today I washed the screens to my apartment windows. I’ve been meaning to do it so that I can have the windows wide open to let the spring in. The screens will keep the bees that swarm the cherry tree from coming into my bedroom and keep my cat from attempting to leap from the windowsill to the tree in pursuit of the bees, birds, and squirrels. When I replaced them with the storm windows this past fall, I noticed that they were pretty grimy and probably hadn’t been cleaned in years. So I brought them outside with some diluted castile soap (purchased in bulk at the co-op, the same soap I use to wash my dishes) and rinsed them down with the hose. They came clean quickly. No chemicals needed. Now I can breathe easier knowing that the breezes blowing through my apartment aren’t being filtered through so much dust and dirt.

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Bed frame

I finally found a bed frame. After much deliberation about whether to borrow one, find one used, or make one, I decided to buy this platform frame made from sustainably harvested hardwood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, sealed with a simple, straight linseed oil finish. I love the minimal design. Because my bed sticks out into the pathway through the room, I wanted something as small and unobtrusive as possible. Having the mattress raised up off the floor feels great because I can clean under it. And I feel more grown up. Next on my wish list is a mattress made from organic materials. When I met with Krystal Noiseux at RIRRC, she told me about a company in Massachusetts called Conigliaro Industries, a recycling service company that accepts mattresses. When I visited their website I found that they market the mattresses to Nationwide Mattress Recycling. A statistic on the NMR website states that 9,000,000 mattresses and box springs end up in a landfill or incinerator each year in the U.S. When I do find something to replace the mattress I’m using now, I will probably take it to Conigliaro. I’d like to donate it but that might be difficult to do given that it has grown so old and uncomfortable.

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Environmental Toothbrush

For many years, I have used an electric toothbrush. My family had one when I was growing up and I have used one ever since. I always thought of it as an important tool to maintain oral hygiene and health. Since starting this project almost a year ago, I have been using the same replacement head. The brush is becoming pretty shabby and less effective. I knew that I wouldn’t be buying a new replacement head (because they’re made out of plastic and come in plastic packaging), so I planned to transition to a more sustainable manual toothbrush. 

I had read that there are recyclable and compostable toothbrushes on the market. I considered buying a preserve toothbrush, which is made from recycled yogurt cups and will be turned into plastic lumber if you ship it back to the company once the toothbrush is spent. But I struggle with the idea that that a park bench made from that plastic lumber will eventually end up in a landfill. So I set my heart on finding a compostable brush instead. The problem with this option is that currently, there are no compostable toothbrushes being made or even sold in the United States. 

After a lot of research, I found myself torn between two products. The first is a pig’s hair and beechwood toothbrush manufactured in Germany sold on the Life Without Plastic website. The bristles come from longhaired pigs that are bred and raised for meat in China. I’m not sure where the beechwood comes from. The head of this toothbrush is wrapped in a small piece of biodegradable plastic.

The second toothbrush I considered was The Environmental Toothbrush, which is made with nylon 4 and bamboo—sold in Australia. I settled on The Environmental Toothbrush, in part because it is more affordable and because the packaging is 100% paper. I was also very satisfied with my email correspondence with the company’s international sales manager. He provided thorough answers to all my questions about the nylon bristles, materials sourcing, and shipping materials. Still, it’s difficult to for me to determine whether or not this particular product was the best choice from an environmental standpoint.

The toothbrushes are sourced and manufactured in China then shipped to Australia, where they are then shipped to national and international buyers. Of course the fuel required to bring this product to my doorstep is quite problematic. I was told by the sales manager that they are desperately seeking a distributor in the US. I’m also not sure how I feel about the synthetic bristles on this brush, but currently the only other compostable option on the market is an animal product, which presents a whole other set of issues. I was told that in standard composts, the bristles should break down in 12-24 months. Below is an extract from a scientific journal that was included in the email.

Nylon 4

It has been reported that nylon 4 was degraded in the soil and in the activated sludge. The results confirmed that Nylon 4 is readily degradable in the environment. Furthermore, the biodegradability of nylon 4 and nylon 6 blends was investigated in compost and activated sludge. The nylon 4 in the blend was completely degraded in 4 months while nylon 6 was not degraded [90]. Recently, Yamano et al. was able to isolate polyamide 4 degrading microorganisms (ND-10 and ND-11) from activated sludge. The strains were identified as Pseudomonas sp. The supernatant from the culture broth of strain ND-11 degraded completely the emulsified nylon 4 in 24 h and produced γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as degradation product.

Above is the package as it arrived, in a small piece of brown paper (secured with plastic packing tape).

The toothbrushes are packaged in unbleached paper. I bought one package, which contains 12 brushes.

It certainly looks nice. I will provide reviews once I have used it for a while.

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End table

Working to complete my second woodworking project, an end table with a drawer.

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Housewarming

This past weekend I went to dinner my friend’s apartment. I brought her raisins in a glass jar (for the meal she was cooking) and handmade soap from the farmer’s market, tied with a piece hemp.

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To-go tea

After years of wrestling with flimsy ball strainers, I’ve finally found a system that works really well for me. My stainless steel mesh basket strainer hangs on the lip of most of my mugs and my 16 oz glass jars (The jar lid doesn’t close completely tight around it, but it’s fine if I carry it in my hand). The strainer is durable and extremely easy to clean. I brought this soothing herbal drink to work with me today.

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Done!

I finally finished my bench. It feels good to complete a project of this scale. I can’t wait to start using it (once the tung oil has dried completely). Now back to the small table I’ve been working on…

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The perfect thing

I love the way bulk foods look stored in glass jars. Simple ingredients boasting great potential. I love the sound food makes when poured from cotton bulk bags as it ‘pings’ against the glass.

I have photographed and mentioned these before, but I want to talk about how much I love the design of Weck jars.  I think they are in many ways an improvement on the traditional glass wire bail jar. The seal is the same with a rubber gasket and a fitted glass lid, but the clamping system on the Weck jars employs two loose stainless steel clips that snap onto the lid and lip of the jar, forming an airtight seal. Because the lid can be removed completely, they’re easy to clean and dry. The stainless steel clamps won’t rust the way the wire can on a bail jar.

They’re great for canning and food storage. For the dry bulk grains on my counter that I use nearly every day—like quinoa, I simply cover the jar with the glass lid. Other dry bulk goods—like nuts, seeds, tea, spices, and chocolate, I seal with the gasket.

Weck seems to be growing in popularity in the States, which means increased availability. Recently I’ve been able to find them in boutique home goods stores and even at Crate and Barrel. Last year I ordered a set directly from the company website and it arrived in big cardboard box filled with packing peanuts—woops. I took the peanuts to a UPS store where they reuse them. Many shipping companies will accept used packing materials as long as they are clean. Of course it’s always better shop at local business when possible. I carry my large canvas tote when I go shopping for new or used jars and bottles. I’ve learned to throw in a sweater or some t-shirts to wrap fragile items in.

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Stainless steel sponge

Along with the wood clothespins below, I also ordered some vintage stainless steel sponges from the same etsy seller. She included them without plastic in the same shipping box. I decided to purchase these because they are packaged in a simple paper box (these days it’s difficult to find steel sponges without some kind of plastic packaging). I plan to store them until my current steel sponge is spent. Hopefully that won’t be for a while––the one I’m using now is really durable. I use it on my cast iron skillet every day.

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Clothespins

I just bought some new (old) clothespins to use on the clothesline I’ve been planning to install in my living room. I couldn’t find any quality wood pins in my area so I finally ended up ordering this vintage set on etsy. I contacted the seller and asked her to ship them without any plastic packaging and she was very accommodating. They arrived yesterday loose in a cardboard box with some newspaper filler. I wanted to find an older set because I figured they might be sturdier than some of the flimsy new spring pins I’ve seen for sale. These are great, and I look forward to putting them to use. With a line and pins, not only will I be able to hang my clothes, but also larger items like my sheets.

I happened to have a burlap bag that’s a perfect size for the pins.

This primitive springless pin came with the set. I think it’s such a beautiful object. I might try to make some like it with the scraps from my woodworking projects.

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Bench project

The bench I’m building is nearly complete. I’ve been applying the finish in my living room. I’m using 100% Tung oil to seal the walnut legs and seat. Tung oil is a natural drying oil derived from the nut of a tung tree. I wanted to use something completely nontoxic and easy to apply. I also like the idea of using a finish containing only one ingredient. Fortunately I don’t have any nut allergies and the oil doesn’t irritate my hands or my lungs. I’m not worried about hazardous fumes (the tung oil smells good) in my living room. The drying time between coats is long but it’s worth the wait. Once the final coat hardens it will be nearly impervious to water. I feel good knowing that this functional object soon to be put to use in my home is made almost completely from organic materials (not including the wood glue). Over time the bench may have to be re-oiled but I don’t mind.

I have really enjoyed working with wood. The material seems alive as every cell expands and contracts depending on the moisture in the air. I prefer finishes that showcase the material rather than cover it up. Because this bench is one of my first woodworking projects, I went with my class to a hardwood supplier for my material. However, I’m very interested in learning about more sustainable woodworking practices like building from reclaimed and salvaged wood or from naturally fallen timber.

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Bed

Trash reduction in my daily routine is becoming more automatic. After many months of problem solving, I can finally say that there is very little waste entering my house with the food and hygiene goods I consume. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about waste reduction with regard to more permanent necessities, like furniture. One way to reduce the waste we make in our lifetime is to choose quality made items that last and then take great care of them. I find it’s easier to care for furniture that I really love.

For several years since I’ve been out of college, I’ve been toting around some family hand-me-downs and a few pieces I inherited from roommates who moved away to tiny New York apartments. I’ve always been interested in making whatever space I inhabit feel like home–something I learned from my mom as we moved around the country when I was growing up. But in the midst of art school and the struggle to steady myself afterwards, carefully curating my belongings was not a top priority. As I get older and less scattered, my desire to live more efficiently grows. For me this means clearing out the broken, uncomfortable, nonfunctional, and the extra. I’ve managed to sell a lot on craigslist and the rest I’ve donated. But it seems that getting rid of things was the easy part.

Since I moved into my current apartment five months ago, I have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor. The bed I used to have didn’t fit up the narrow stairwell of the 220-year-old building. Unfortunately I find this mattress to be very uncomfortable—the springs are very pronounced. I’ve wanted to get a different one along with a simple platform to get it up off the floor, but finding the right thing has been a challenge. In my free time I’ve been learning to build furniture through woodworking classes and so far I’ve been tackling a table and a bench. I’m told a bed is a much more advanced project. The classes have heightened my appreciation for the handcrafted and my curiosity in how things are made. Now more than ever, I’m determined to avoid buying from bargain furniture stores, but I do understand why so many people rely on such businesses for accessibility and affordability. While holding out, I’ve gone without.

Yesterday on my run, a Waste Management truck with a trailer full of discarded Christmas trees drove past me. I noticed the trailer was marked “Mattresses”. It prompted me to wonder how many mattresses (and Christmas trees) that truck picks up in Providence each year? Do they all go to the landfill? How long does it take a standard mattress to biodegrade? If I’m to replace it, can my current mattress be recycled? Later that evening while reading an article on ecoRI’s website, I noticed an advertisement for a company called The Clean Bedroom, with a store in North Kingstown. I clicked into their website and found a brief statement offering reasons to choose organic bedding over standard.

“…While we sleep, our immune system recovers and prepares for the day ahead. If your mattress is filled with airborne allergens and chemicals toxins, your immune system will battle these rather than repair itself…

Regular bedding – a standard mattress laden with polyurethane foam, toxic flame-retardants and water- or stain-resistant chemicals

Organic bedding– an organic mattress where materials are all-natural, clean and free of chemicals — the cotton is grown without pesticides; the latex is free of synthetics; for fire protection, pure wool is used.”

Well, that seems to make a lot of sense. But of course organic bedding can be very expensive. Today as I continued to research, I’ve been asking myself: When did a good, clean night’s sleep become so complicated and elusive?

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Hardware

Today I was able to find the washers I need to finish a woodworking project in bulk at The Home Depot. Small victories.

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