rachaelikins.com, Life on a Green Site: What Does This Mean?
by Rachael Z. Ikins
In these tough economic and environmentally challenged times, it is really important for an artist to "practice what she preaches" to borrow from a commonly heard adage. Artists by their very connection to detail and condition of rawness that allows art to form, are in a position that no others share. We interpret the world around us in a way that makes our viewers feel something. And hopefully the feeling will inspire action. That is the responsibility of an artist to her or his audience. To live a balanced life that gives thanks to the earth which supports and inspires the artist's life itself.
How can we accomplish this? Well, first of all ,recycle. We don't "need" state of the art technology as long as whatever it is is as energy efficient as possible.. An old printer works just as well. Pass on your extra PC to a younger artist coming along who maybe can afford little. Visit an area on "trash day" and see who has put what gem out for the recycling truck that might be useful in the creation of a work of "found art" or used in one's own house with a cleaning and a new blanket laid over the rough spots.
When not using it, turn your computer equipment off. Even when the switch is off but the power source continues to be plugged in, this uses a constant supply of electricity. Which, in turn, creates waste gases at the production site and releases pollutants in the air. Even keeping your computer unplugged 6 hours a day can reduce YOUR contributions to greenhouse emissions significantly and lower your electric bill. None of us is in such a hurry with a reader dying because of having to wait to read one's newest poem, that we have to leave the computer in "sleep" mode 24-7.
Used recycled paper for your printer. And if you print out something that isn't exactly the way you want it, turn the paper over and use the other side instead of simply tossing it. Odd-ball pieces of odd sized paper from projects sized and stapled together, make a note-pad for groceries and rough drafts of poetry.
Don't be afraid to use a notepad and pen or pencil--remember those? instead of solely working on the computer. Writing giant Stephen King wrote "The Green Mile" on little notepads he kept in a back pocket while he was sitting in Fenway Park waiting to see if the baseball game was going to be rained out.
These are some other things that we do as a household to make our life a "green life". We raise chickens. Chickens are the vacuum cleaners of the bird world. We save kitchen scraps as compost for the garden. Chickens eat a lot of it and move it along yet one step further in the compost process from scrap to manure.
They are good eaters of garden pests and insects as well and by their scratching even contribute to the weeding efforts of the gardener. My chickens all have names, not recommended if your plan is ultimately the stew pot. Ours just give us wonderful eggs. We use the egg whites to freeze as our own "Egg Beaters". Eggs also supplement our dogs' food instead of canned.
If you keep a fish tank, use a vacuum hose or buckets and empty the rich water at changing time directly into your garden area. If you raise pet birds or rodents such as gerbils or hamsters, their cage materials can be added to a compost pile when necessary as well.
We also share our life with two pot bellied pigs. These fellows create wonderful manure in handy to collect pellets which, even fresh, seem to please every variety of plant I have dug it in around. If their enthusiasm is corralled and channeled, they can "help" break ground with their strong snouts and shoulders. They also work mulch in as they root through its fascinating scents and textures This aerates the soil and provides a talkative gardening companion who get some much needed stimulation, too .
We eat primarily a vegetable diet, most of which we raise ourselves and share with our animal friends.. The weeds from the garden go to the chickens to sort through with much commentary and joy. What we do not grow ourselves, we try our best to purchase from local and county farmers. We freeze or can produce each summer . One of our small annual goals is to serve a Thanksgiving dinner comprised only of things we raised ourselves. From potatoes to squash to pumpkin pie and jams.
Hang the laundry to dry. A recent statistic from the paper cited energy use from drying clothes to be higher than any other source in an average household. Sun is a great natural bleach. Rain a great fabric softener. Air costs nothing and wind doesn't make greenhouse gases. And you yourself get a break from typing at the computer. You get some weight lifting exrecise and walking. And if your cats are like ours, we have two who enjoy nothing more than climbing up the laundry posts and being "wild" or snuggling in the basket of clean laundry as it is folded, while we hang clothes up or take them down.
These are just a few examples today of how this writer's household stays "green". Look forward to more and an informative reference of books and sites for further info.