It's the middle of April once again, time for Earth Day. It's interesting to see how this day gets treated each year. I don't know about other places in the country, but here in KC it seems like Earth Day is definitely going commercial. Perhaps the Obama administration and their stimulus plans are a big factor in that, but I've noticed countless ads for businesses selling Energy Star windows, appliances, high MPG vehicles, etc. Here in MO they've even granted as Earth Day tax holiday for this next week so that Energy Star appliances are tax free.
I think it's great that businesses are finally pushing the more environmentally friendly options and that those options seem to be getting more affordable for those of us in the middle income range, but it also makes me a little wary. We still seem to be equating consumption - buying more "stuff" - with patriotism and a healthy economy. Perhaps we've bought so much extra crap over the years that we now need to take some time to really digest what we have, what we need, and what we need to get rid of or stop spending on. I know for me personally, I bought a lot of stuff - clothes, housewares, holiday decorations, DVDs, etc. - that I didn't need or really have space for. While I don't feel an overwhelming crunch on my budget these days (let's face it, as a seminary student the last several years and then serving as an AmeriCorps member I've gotten used to having virtually no income), I am trying to take time to go through all my belongings to make sure I have the things I need and can store sensibly while getting rid of the things I don't. Most of those things will get donated to Goodwill or our local Disabled American Veterans thrift stores. Trouble and I love to browse these stores fairly regularly (reuse rather than buy new) and I've definitely noticed that there are more people shopping there and less items on the shelves these last 8 months or so. I would encourage you to do the same, finding those kinds of stores in your area.
Of course, I can't let Earth Day go by without once again talking about my job. For all the personality issues at my job, I love working for Habitat KC and one of my favorite parts of Habitat's work is the ReStore. Not all Habitat affiliates have ReStores, but you can look up the closest one to you by going to Habitat International's website and entering your zip code in the appropriate search box. ReStores sell all kinds of materials for your home, varying greatly with each affiliate and the way their staff choose to operate. I know the store in Oklahoma City sells mostly new items that they get wholesale. Our store in Kansas City, MO is one of the top 5 ReStores in the country - which I am VERY proud of although I don't work directly with the ReStore very often. We have a 30,000 square foot warehouse that is set up like other home improvement stores with everything from ceramic tile to kitchen sinks. Everything we sell is donated - some new from manufacturers and local businesses (thanks you Lowe's) and some used from people remodeling that donate their old materials rather than throwing them away. The store sells these items to the public at deeply discounted prices and all the profits help fund our housing program. Our store has generated more than $1 million for housing in Kansas City thus far!! If you have one in your area I definitely ask you to check it out.
Lastly, I want to give a shout out to an eco-friendly business that recently opened up in my area. It's a coffee shop called One More Cup here in the Waldo neighborhood of KC. Their website includes pictures of the place and their full menu but doesn't do it justice. They also have a blog here on blogger so you can get to know the owners a bit. My favorite part of the place is that they redid the interior with earth friendly materials, like cork flooring, and they sell as much local stuff as they can, including all fair trade and organic coffee thru the KC comapny the Roasterie. It's quite seriously the BEST COFFEE I'VE EVER HAD. Trouble has a serious addiction coming on - she stops in at least twice a week. :) They sell travel mugs with their logo on them that are made out of recycled plastic and when you bring them in to get your coffee, they give you a mug full (16 ounces) for the 12 oz price. Trouble has almost paid for hers already! I have a hard time getting there early enough to get to work on time so I don't stop in near that much, but I'm definitely doing my part to get the word out there about this place. I love that it's close enough I can walk or ride my bike down there and that they are so committed to values I share. The owner, Jeremy, is also a musician and regularly plays the piano sitting right inside the door. I don't know where else you can get that!
Well, that's enough commercialism. Now back to going through my closet... Happy Earth Day!