The Size of Texas: No. 20 of 40 Forts
I was worried that my month sabbatical from writing about the forts would make them less timely. Turns out the exact opposite. Today is the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day. There are countless opportunities to participate in caring for your environment this Saturday. Just do a quick check and you will be surprised. Or just walk outside to a neglected patch of grass and collect some trash. You might be surprised by that, too.
This fort was inspired by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area TWICE the size of Texas that is just plastic trash floating in the ocean. Imagine that. Seriously. Stop to think about that. As I am writing this, Oprah is showing video of the Pacific Garbage Patch on TV. You should take a peek at this.
In No Impact Man, Colin Beavan tried to take on having a zero environmental impact for a year. I started reading his book the same time I started creating the forts. The book is the perfect accompaniment for Lent. Each time I sat down to read, I thought about how I could consume less and enjoy life more.
One of the most striking realizations was how much we consume when we eat out at fast food restaurants. We are lucky to be in DC where there are a lot of environmentally conscious restaurants. Some even have the low-impact option when you order online. Just the food. But it takes a lot of discipline (and even arguments with your husband) to leave the restaurant with JUST your food. The worst culprits are the local Chinese restaurants, which throw in place settings based on how large your order appears. This includes several plastic cups of sauces, packets of soy, mustard, chopsticks, napkins, spoons, forks, and, of course, fortune cookies. I am happy to continue receiving the fortune cookies. Don’t get me wrong.
So when I was creating this piece, I loved the blend of colors from the front and back. If you look closely, you can see that the exterior of the “lighthouse” and back of the fort, is a paper cup, plastic fork and food from a fast food restaurant. Plus the shoreline inside of the fort is a reminder of just where a lot of this trash ends up.
I created a little paper shore tucked inside the folds. On one side it reads:
She regretted how carelessly…
and the other:
… she consumed stuff.
And that’s what it is. Just stuff. More and more recently, I look around and think, we don’t need anything. In fact, I have felt an urge to purge and clean out our closet. Calvary is having a huge yard sale the weekend of May 1st and it is a great time to do something really green. Pass along items we aren’t using in hopes of finding a loving home for someone else. Reuse is the second in the hierarchy of reduce-reuse-recycle.
Yesterday I spent the day planning Lucy’s first birthday parties. Yes, I said that right. One here in DC for some babies. And a second for our family in NC a week later. Mainly, we want to get together with our loved ones and PLAY. I’m hoping that we can curb the resources. Thanks to Green Party Goods, I was able to find some low-impact party decorations. Mainly they were items that we are able to reuse. I will more blog about that later. No need to get sidetracked.
With the thoughts of the great wasteland of plastic in the ocean, I try to think of plastics in this context: Do I LOVE this X enough to really protect it and try to keep it out of the ocean? Does it include the least amount of pieces as possible? (For example, do I need a sippy cup with a bunch of extra parts?) What else can I use instead? Do I want to live with this in my thousand square foot condo for a long, long time? When you are living in a small space, you
can become miserable very quickly if you don’t love everything that surrounds you. And I tend to love those things more if there are less items crowded around my very favorite things.
How fortuitous that I started following Colin Beavan today on Earth Day and found this Gratitude List post. I have been writing ten things that I am thankful for in my journal for several years now. But my journal writing practice is not nearly what it used to be. Sounds like the best excuse of joining Twitter that I have found yet. I can’t wait to start this practice.
Last year, I shared my last Earth Day before motherhood. And based on the list of consumables after the baby comes, I really have only succeeded with breastfeeding. I have made some baby food, but not a lot. Looking back to 2006, I can see what I was doing then and my goals for the future. Pretty interesting. The best thing that I can add for this year is that I’ve made the switch to Renee’s HomeMade*HomeEc Deodorant. I would highly recommend that anyone else do the same.
This paper sculpture, roughly the size of a coffee cup, is one of forty forts I created during Lent 2010 as a creative exercise and spiritual exploration.