Sandra Goldmark in her new book "Fixation" wants us to buy fewer things, things that are built to last, and fix those things when they break. She wants us to live "without breaking the planet," as her book's subtitle states.
A really good idea.
My wife and I don't buy much of anything except food, and I proudly can say that I avoid grocery-store plastic whenever possible (two oranges in their own plastic bag, really??) I speak to management about excessive packaging (think meat counter), and when this health crisis ends I will happily bring my own grocery bags once again.
Ms. Goldmark would approve.
The point she makes is often overlooked when we discuss how to save the planet (and ourselves). Buy for the long-haul. Not having to recycle is the best kind of recycling.
We feed birds, and Fixation applies. (This book has broad reach.) A dozen feeders hang in the yard and on the deck. I maintain three dozen nesting boxes for birds. Our feeders have been with us for almost 20 years. They are bought with simplicity and durability (weather and squirrels) in mind. Some feeders we make ourselves. Nothing is cute. Cute is expensive and usually not well-made. Birds don't know cute.
Our bird houses are made of cedar, all at least 10 years old. They are "regulation" in design, meaning they are functional, not cute. Cedar can crack. I replace weathered roofs and sides only when I can't repair them with glue, glue my first-choice fix. None of the boxes look new. Birds don't mind.
If feeders do come to the end of their useful life, I save the parts that might extend the life of the next one.
My most recent feeder was designed to feed peanuts to blue jays. It has three parts — quart plastic container from the deli, old lead pencil, one foot of steel wire. Looks just like it is — homemade. The jays don't care.
Our suet feeders are sections of broken tree limbs (six inches in diameter) drilled with holes to be stuffed with suet, hung from a tree with another hunk of wire. We buy suet from a nearby meat market that does its own butchering. The suet wrapped in butcher paper (no plastic) in 10-pound chunks.
Our birding gear has been bought with cost in mind. I didn't think about the behavior-plus that comes with not tossing yet another thing into the trash to be hauled to the landfill. Now I do.
"Fixation" is published by Island Press, a non-profit publisher focusing on books that address environmental problems. The book is hardcover, 216 pages, $27, and from what I see, made to last. You can pass it along. If your bookstore doesn't have it, Amazon does, $17.95 plus $3.99 shipping.
Better yet, check the Island Press web site. See what else you can read to help yourself and fix the world. Go to island press.com