It's been a wonderful Mother's Day weekend so far. It's a busy time - lots of planting wildflower seeds, getting garden plots ready (but not planted), cleaning off lawn furniture, replacing gas grills...finishing all the big things we thought we'd accomplish sooner.
One thing I've been meaning to address is writing an environmental policy for our business. We do all the basics - we use natural cleaners where possible, we recycle, we make a huge effort to purchase as much of what we use in the local area. We grow our vegetables and herbs organically and we feed our chickens organic feed and lots of kitchen leftovers. We plant native seeds and keep track of everything from erosion to grizzly bears. In short, we take our job as guardians of this place very seriously. As employees of Yellowstone National Park, we've spent our careers dedicating ourselves to the protection of the environment and this doesn't quit once we walk through the doors of home.
Several years ago we were under review by a large travel organization who we PAID to be listed with. (I'll give you a hint - First letter and last letter A, middle letter A), Reviewing lodging is very lucrative business. I find that many people aren't aware of their for-profit status. During our annual review and were told that we needed to replace the plastic hangers with wood ones and that the lamps in our rooms were outdated. When I asked if there were any suggestions offered about what I should do with the plastic hangers and the lamps, our reviewer suggested THE LANDFILL.
The truth is that I don't like plastic hangers and, once they are in need of replacing, I'll definitely be looking for wood ones. We've made it a policy not to just throw things away. Towels that are getting frayed are offered as swim towels for Boiling River swimmers and, eventually, they are cut into rags and used and used again. Sheets that are too worn to use make great coverings for the early vegetable garden at night, clean the windows and make great playhouses on the back of the lilac bush come spring. Teacups and mismatched china are in use here - as sugar dishes or cookie plates...and, when in pieces, as mosaic stones for the garden. Everything that is usable goes to our local good will - which turns over $15,000 a year of profit back into the community. Even our dump has a section for things that somebody else might need. When its 90 miles to town, nothing is discarded lightly.
Don't get me wrong. When a Montana girl needs retail therapy she's as likely to find it as the next gal. For me, it is the Saturday yard sale or thrift store that calls my name. Today I thought about how sturdy the chairs I was refinishing for the Mountainview cabin were ($100 for 6 chairs and a table at the local goodwill). I thought about how much I loved the wood chickens, the cast iron grates, and the trout print I found at yard sales this morning.
And I thought about how good it made me feel to give these old, charming things a new home. So if you come for a visit - forget the landfill, ignore the plastic hangers. Ask me about the great deal I got on the wooden chickens!
"We are not to throw away those things which can benefit our neighbor. Goods are called good because they can be used for good: they are instruments for good, in the hands of those who use them properly." Clement of Alexandria