Sunday, January 24, 2010
Doing it Myself
On my way home yesterday I found a discarded 2-liter plastic bottle on the ground, and it was exactly what I needed! I had just bought a bottle of water at the store, and was thinking about where to transfer the water to so that I could use the bottle right away. And then I stumbled onto someone else's trash, which became the serendipitous solution to my immediate problem.
Once home I immediately got to work on what I hope will be the first of many do-it-yourself projects to come. I've been thinking about DIY for a while now, have even consulted recipes online from time to time, but I usually just take the easy way out and buy what I need. Yesterday, however, I had a revelation. We have a big humidity problem in our apartment, and one tired and rattling electronic dehumidifier that we lug around to different corners as needed. But after cleaning mold from the damp walls yet again, I decided I needed to find an additional solution. I remembered a kind of crystal absorber I'd had when I lived at the beach one summer, a small plastic tub you could put wherever you needed to. I thought that could be a great (and silent) alternative. The trick was figuring out what it was called, how to translate that into French, and then find out where to order one.
After poking around for a while, I finally found a couple of French websites that carried several versions of what I had in mind, though in bags rather than tubs. One was even in the shape of a penguin, strangely enough, which changes color once it's full of water. The biggest problem is that to re-charge those bags you need to put them in the microwave - and we don't have one. So I kept surfing, until I stumbled across a site giving instructions on a cheap, home-made humidity absorber. What?! And the more I looked, the more I found different variations on the theme. All the DIY suggestions involved cutting a plastic bottle in half, putting a mesh covering over the opening, placing salt (or variant) in the top part, then turning it upside down into the bottom part which captures the moisture absorbed by the salt. So simple! So cheap! So quick!
I was so inspired that I spent hours perusing different DIY sites, and I'm now determined to make all sorts of other things instead of buying them. I went shopping yesterday with a big list of ingredients, and though I couldn't find everything in my neighborhood, I can get started on a couple of projects. My humidity absorbers are now in place, so the next priority is to make my own toothpaste, since I have all the ingredients for that and we're almost out. It's going to save me a lot of money even in the short run, since the natural stuff we buy at the organic store is almost 5 euros for a little tube that doesn't last us very long.
Doing things myself fits in so perfectly with my goal of mindful consumption and reducing expenses that I can't believe I didn't start sooner. But it's funny to suddenly notice how my reflex to buy things is so established - I have a problem, I look for place to purchase the solution without thinking twice about it. Over the years I've moved more and more to ecological consumption, so that many of the products I do buy are natural and non-toxic. But they are often pretty expensive, and far from essential as I'm just starting to realize. I can just as easily make these products myself, saving myself a lot of money and consuming less packaging in the process.
It's also really empowering for me to become aware that I can meet my own needs and find solutions to my problems without relying on commercial, packaged solutions. A whole new world of self-sufficiency is opening up to me now that I've opened my eyes to it, and it's incredibly thrilling. It's also a great way for me to practice mindfulness, both in terms of thinking about what I do and don't need to buy, but also being fully present and enjoying the moments when I'm able to make things for myself.
Once I'm a bit more organized about it I'll post some links to some DIY sites that I find most useful, but if any of you have any sites to recommend feel free to post them in the comments!