Monday, April 26, 2010

Reduce, reuse, recycle...the library is way ahead of you...

Last night I watched most of "No Impact Man", a documentary about the Beavan family, who spent a year trying to reduce their carbon footprint to zero. (There's a book, too.) They tried to eat locally, buying only food that did not come in a disposable container; they got rid of their tv, refrigerator, etc., and eventually phased out all electricity. What's interesting is that they did this from a cramped ninth floor apartment in Manhattan. In some ways that may have made it an easier experiment--no need for a car, or a lawnmower--but in some ways tougher. Where do you hang your (handwashed) laundry? Where do you keep your worm composting bin? And just how do you live without toilet paper? (Hint.)

Of course, the library is a terrific resource in efficiency. For a truly modest investment, the whole community shares a vast collection of books, magazines, music and videos, plus the daily papers, and the use of computers, and Internet connectivity. You can't beat that. Whenever someone returns something and sadly tells me that it doesn't play, or that it's falling apart, I check to see how many times the item has circulated. Many of our movies go out 60 or 70 or 80 times. To see what kind of value you get from your library, try this handy calculator.

The library is also a resource to learn about the reduction of unnecessary consumption, and new ways to be thrifty. May I suggest "Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping", by Judith Levine, as an excellent starting point. To find more books, search the catalog for the subject heading Consumer Education. I suggest you sort the results by date--while some ideas may be timeless, it won't be useful to read a book on how to research the purchase of a car if the book was written before the Internet existed. And, of course, you can find loads of information on how to cook from scratch, start a garden, and recycle materials to make new things. You'll save money, learn something, and have fun.

1 comment:

  1. To be honest, the value I get from our library (literally speaking anyway) is offset by my inability to return DVDs in a timely manner. Have to admit, it's money I don't mind wasting.