The Answer Is Passive

by Katy on December 21, 2008 · 7 comments



Want to know the hippest element in green design and building these days?

It’s passive solar energy.

Simply put, this means large south facing windows that warm a room even when winter months creep into our lives. 

I like this. It’s simple, and doesn’t require a ginormous bank loan. Just open your curtains and enjoy the green life. 

Ahh . . . .

But then I started thinking about other passively green choices in daily life.

Instead of making an elaborate meal from organic locally grown food, you just eat the leftovers you already have in your refrigerator.

Instead of driving your hybrid car across town to do your shopping, you shop at a store that’s within walking distance.

Instead of purchasing carbon offsets for a flight across the country for a vacation, you find a vacation that’s within driving, (or train) distance.

Instead of replacing your things with eco-friendly goods, you just live with what you already have.

There is a strong message that to make a green choice is to buy newly manufactured, often prohibitively expensive items. (Bamboo towels anyone?) Replacing the perfectly good stuff you already own.

So I’m going to make an active stance on green living and go passive. 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

luneray December 22, 2008 at 3:20 am

I agree. Most waste comes from the manufacturing process, so the greenest choice is often simply reusing something that already exists.


Magdalena December 22, 2008 at 10:46 am

Yes, re-using and perhaps remanufacturing something. I love to remake clothes. So much fabric gets wasted! I may buy something at the thrift store, but then if I don’t really like it, or it becomes too worn, I turn it into something else. Clothes at the thrift store, if they don’t get sold, either get landfilled or baled and sent overseas, where they disrupt the local economy by replacing homemade and artisan-produced clothing. Sometimes de-cluttering to make room for the new is not the best solution. Using what you already own is certainly about as passive as you can get! I would suggest that anyone who does not know how to sew take some classes, because even simple mending means more use out of a damaged garment.


Jinger December 22, 2008 at 4:48 pm

I love to repurpose everything I can. I constantly redecorate my home by rearranging and moving decorative items around.

I like the idea of passive green choices.


Amy@freakishlyfrugal December 22, 2008 at 8:11 pm

My husband and I were just talking about this the other night…how there are people out there who would have you believe that to be “green” or “simple” or whatever, you have to BUY new things that promote this “green, simple” life. Which totally doesn’t make sense. Why don’t people get that? I guess I’m thankful that I was raised to re-use. We laugh, because now, the frugality that used to get me teased all through school is what makes me “cool” now. We often joke here that we were “green before green was cool”.


Jan December 23, 2008 at 3:37 am

In response to Magdalena’s post – does anyone know of a site where you can find out more about materials? For instance, I have a linen dress – how can I repurpose it? Is linen good for, say a dishtowel? Any advice on that would be helpful. Also, I had no idea that unused clothes from a thrift store go into a landfill! That’s awful – we must find a way to do something about it.

I’m happy to say that we have our garbage down to 1 day per week. I’m recycling as much as possible and will invest in a worm composter after the holidays. I was real proud of myself when I took an envelope, wrote my grocery list on 1 side and then put the coupons & money in the envelope to shop with! Now the envelope was used 2x!


Martha December 23, 2008 at 9:29 am

I take some exception to the comment that sending the used clothing overseas is a bad thing. Having lived in Nicaragua, most people we knew wore old clothing from the US. They didnt have money to buy new things and it was a great deal for them to have gently used clothing for day to day living and for work clothes. Incredible how many family reunion tshirts people wear there. It is a great way for clothing to be re-used.


Magdalena December 23, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Linen is great for many things – maybe you can cut the dress down to a blouse, or into tea towels. When completely worn out, linen is in much demand by furniture refinishers for french polishing. It is virtually lint free.

I did mission work in Honduras. I, too, noticed that American t-shirts were almost a national uniform worn by women with a simple skirt and by men with cheap Chinese jeans. I still lament that the beautiful indigenous clothing that was made by hand, both fabric and garment, had disappeared everywhere but up in the mountains, where a lot of it was made for tourists. The t-shirts were hardly modest on most women, and wore out quickly, while the handmade clothing had years of use in it. I wore the pieces I bought for almost fifteen years.


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