Sustainable Holidays and Life in General

This week is, of course, the Thanksgiving Holiday, and we, like many are traveling to visit family. Since we are not running the holiday, and there will likely be over two dozen people at dinner, I’m sure there are some decisions being made that might not have otherwise. Rather than a sustainably raised heritage turkey, I expect to see a Tyson-brand frankenbird grace our table. I have little doubt that much of the vegetables we’ll have will be purchased with little consideration to where they came from and how far they had to travel to reach our plates, let alone the means used to grow them. I’m sure there will be food prepared from boxes containing ingredients that only an industrial chemist could love.

Of course, none of this will stop me from eating any of it. I’m a pragmatist, and for me, spending the time with family for Thanksgiving and the coming Christmas is more important than these high ideals that I try to live by the rest of the time. Sure, I’ll try to plant the seeds of change, and perhaps nudge things, but ultimately the holiday is more important.

But, we still need to do our part, particularly where what is frugal and what is sustainable cross paths. We’re visiting my in-laws this weekend, and we’ll be borrowing a vehicle from them that is several miles-per-gallon more efficient than our pickup for the trip, at least until we can get our pickup fixed, which should help it’s efficiency immensely. And what we eat outside of the big feast will, at least half the time, not have the same kinds of concerns.

Christmas, to me, is the bigger violator of sustainable practices, since it’s a holiday that revolves entirely around consumption of everything, not just food. Of course, people are already asking what we want for Christmas, but as I sit in our new condo and look around at the stuff that we still have in boxes that we’re not sure where to put. Now, the new place isn’t really any smaller than our last place, it’s just laid out in a way that maximizes living space to storage, where the last place took another direction on that tradeoff.

Ultimately, we want or need very little new stuff. What stuff I can think of are things that would replace the need for other things, though those things tend to be more expensive, or household gadgets that would make it easier to make more of my own food from scratch more easily (rolling out noodles by hand sucks).

We had, for a while, considered buying a larger condo than we did, and while we certainly could have afforded to do so, we’re left thinking now that all the extra space would have done for us would have been to make fill it with more stuff. Even when we have kids, I’m not sure I’d want to see our primary living space (ie, the house) exceed 2000 square feet on the highest end (though I would want an outbuilding for a workshop).

I’m giving a lot of thought to trying to start a hackerspace in Pullman, because more and more I want the ability to indulge in creative instinct, but I don’t always have the time or money to buy the tools that I would need myself. What I really want, these days, are things that’ll make it easier to indulge that creative impulse, to learn. Ultimately, those are the gifts that would be most valuable to me, those that would allow me to create, and to create gifts for others that will hopefully mean something to them as well.