Consumeless for a year

A journal of a year of consuming less and consuming sustainably

Inspiration 23/12/2009

Yesterday I went to the library to find some books for inspiration about consumeless and sustainable lifestyles. And as tremendous coincidences, we were given two highly relevant books of people who (at the time they bought the books) didn’t even know about our experiment! Eise works as a volunteer for Het Bewaarde Land, an initative for elementary school children which is all about experiencing nature in a positive way. As a thank-you Christmas present he got a book about eating and drinking with wild plants. Yesterday, I also got the No Impact Man book from Desiree (with whom I am going to hunt for crop circles in England next summer – luckily Dees is completely willing to travel according to our consumeless and consume sustainably rules!).

So today I got started with browsing trough the stack of books I had collected and found some interesting ideas and inspiration for our experiment. A few insights (mostly fabric and clothes-related):

  • For the production of cotton, lots of heavy pesticides and artificial fertilizers are used. Katherine Hamnett says on her website: “The situation of cotton agriculture in the developing world, involving 400 million farmers, is catastrophic. Pesticides cause 20,000 deaths per year from accidental poisonings [World Health Organisation (WHO)], 1 million long-term acute poisonings per year [PAN], 200,000 suicides per year (due to debt for pesticides) [PAN].” Using organic cotton is a much better alternative.
  • I read in the book ‘Praktisch Idealisme: lijfboek voor wereldverbeteraars’ that the production of wool is actually not very environmentally friendly. Keeping sheep causes enourmous surplusses of manure and degreasing wool requires a bunch of chemical stuff. However, I am a huge fan of the brand Icebreaker, and they actually produce merino wool clothes quite sustainably (they explain their sustainability philosophy and way of working on their website). So (and I expect this to be our morale for 2010) we should carefully study each product and brand before we can decide whether it is sustainable or not. General rules are not enough.
  • According to the same book I mentioned above, viscose is also not the best option. Viscose is made of wood and in order to produce viscose, trees need to be cut. In addition, the process of making viscose out of wood fibers is quite environmentally unfriendly. I do wonder whether there are friendly and sustainable types of viscose. Maybe there’s FSC viscose?? I did read in the book ‘Hip Groen‘ that the shop Brennels sells clothes made of pine tree viscose, apparently more sustainable.
  • Praktisch Idealisme‘ also offers a ranking of environmentally friendly food products. This really is an example of a highly practical advice. Although the list is not complete (what about fresh bananas transported by boat?), it really helps to make choices in everyday life:
    1. fresh, field-grown food from the Netherlands
    2. canned food
    3. food in pots
    4. fresh, field-grown food from Southern-Europe
    5. dried food
    6. frozen food
    7. fresh, greenhouse-grown food from the Netherlands or Europe
    8. fresh food from outside Europe, transported by plane

So far what I’ve learned. I will update the rules accordingly.


The Edible wild plants book

The No Impact Man book


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7 Responses to “Inspiration”

  1. Desiree Tap Says:

    Karin en Eise,
    Superinitiatief!! Ik ga low-profile met jullie mee doen. Heel veel succes.
    Enneh… als jullie nu bij ons komen eten, eten jullie dan wat de pot schaft of mag dat niet volgens consuminderen???


    • Karin Says:

      Ha Desiree,

      Cool, hou je ons ook op de hoogte van jouw low-profile ervaringen? En wij willen natuurlijk geen lastige gasten zijn, wij eten absoluut wat de pot schaft!

      Groetjes, Karin

  2. Maura Says:

    Hi Karen and Eise!
    My spouse John and I decided to have our second shoppingless Christmas this year and now other family members are doing this too. We also make it a habit to buy everything but our shoes and underwear secondhand in charity shops now. We don’t want to fund exploitation, child labor, or forced prison labor anywhere on earth. Buying local food is a big problem here in Nebraska, except during the farmers’ market season (May through October). Otherwise the main products here are maiz, wheat, and beef (the latter we don’t eat).

    Good luck, and I look forward to learning from your advneture!

    • Karin Says:

      Hey Maura,

      Thanks for visiting our blog! It’s so good to hear from you again! I love your shoppingless Christmas, that probably saves you a lot of holiday stress as well ;-)!

      Buying local food is a bit easier here, I expect. Although that is a lot easier in summer than it is in winter (cabbage, cabbage, and cabbage).

      Have a lovely sustainable Christmas!

      Cheers, Karin

  3. Anne Says:

    Ha Karin en Eise,

    Knap initiatief! En ook al willen jullie best eten wat de pot schaft… we vinden het ook wel leuk om voor jullie volgens ‘de regels’ te koken!

    Fijne feestdagen en groetjes!

  4. Danielle Says:

    Hoi Karin,
    als je nu naar de natuurwinkel gaat dan ligt daar zo’n gratis tijdschrift en daar staan in welke seizoensgroenten er nu zijn. Dan kun je meer eten dan “gabbbage” (wat is dat ook alweer?). De uitdaging is om van één groente zoveel mogelijk verschillende gerechten te maken.
    Succes en eet smakelijk!

    • Karin Says:

      Jaaa, dat ken ik, superleuk tijdschrift! En de Odin website biedt ook veel inspiratie wat betreft recepten voor seizoensgroenten.

      Eet smakelijk gaat zeker lukken ;-). Vandaag was het haverkoekjes met schapenkaas, wortelcurry en salade van bleekselderij en bloedsinaasappel. Allemaal biologisch denk ik (ah nee, de currypasta hadden we nog in de koelkast staan van de toko. Maar weggooien is ook niet duurzaam natuurlijk!).

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