by the Madfarmer
I realized today that although I consider myself a “greenie,” I really am not as green as I think. Sure I buy organic milk and recycle what I can, but I think the deeper concepts of living green get lost in the marketing. In all my efforts to buy and use “green” products, I often forget that one of the greenest things I can do is use less. Of everything. Or use what my grandpa called elbow grease.
I remembered this as I was using my chainsaw (?!) to cut down some fallen trees on our property. When the chainsaw ran out of fuel after about fifteen minutes, I felt lost. Well what am I gonna do now? It honestly took several minutes for me to think about the large ax I have in the garage. The first thoughts that came to mind were the obvious ones: Wow, that will take forever. And it will wear me out. And getting more gas would be so much faster and easier. But in the midst of these defeating thoughts I remembered my grandpa’s long lost ideal.
So I spent the next hour hacking away at those same trees. And then instead of firing up the tractor to drag them all to the fire pit, I meticulously dragged each one across the yard, using copious amounts of elbow grease. Sure I was a little tired at the end of it all, but I didn’t use any fossil fuels. I also got a little workout.
Now I know that not every reader of this blog has fallen trees to get rid of on their property. But I think the employment of elbow grease can be utilized in a variety of circumstances more appropriate for this audience. For example, I know there are “green” versions of Roundup that can be used to kill weeds. But another method that works is bending over and pulling weeds out by hand. There are also “green pesticides” you can use to kill garden critters like potato bugs. But something else that works is taking a cup full of soapy water to your potato plants and picking them off one by one to die a long slow soapy death. It’s quite satisfying. Or you could invest in a variety of “green hand tools” like a Garden Claw instead of a rotary tiller, a scythe (or a reel mower) instead of a gas-powered mower, or an old-fashioned rake and broom instead of a leaf blower. Yes, these will make your job more difficult, and it will take longer. And yes, virtually everyone you know will make fun of you or wonder why you are being so inefficient. But at the end of the day you will have made a difference, and you will feel better for it, both mentally and physically—at least after the soreness wears off.