I feel guilty sometimes thinking about how wasteful I am. Sure, I do my part to try to recycle and buy organic, but those didn’t really require much thought on my part. I suppose banning the use paper and plastic goods in my house was a mini achievement, but a year has past now and I can hardly continue to pat myself on the back for that one.
It doesn’t make me feel any better to recall how Native Americans hunted down buffalo in the past. They did not waste a single part of that creature! Even the hair and tails were used for purposes ranging from medicinal use, decorations, and clothing. So you would be wearing your buffalo hide outfit (complete with buffalo hide moccasins), while chomping down on some buffalo jerky, all in the comfort of your buffalo shelter. And then there is me- who can’t even remember to bring a thermos to Starbucks in order to save a paper cup. In comparison to a Native American, I fail on many levels when it comes to saving resources.
The other day it finally hit me. Flax. I use a whole lot of flax. I eat my flax cereal with an extra scoop of ground flax seeds, I snack on granola filled with flax seeds, even my tortilla chips contain whole flax seeds! As I scavenged my fridge and cupboard, I realized I buy a lot of things with flax in it. This trend carried far beyond the kitchen. My handy tote bag that I’ve used for school, shopping, and groceries is made of flax-linen. Realizing that my use of flax might make me feel a little more eco friendly, I decided I should know a little bit more about it. Here are some reasons to love flax.
Why flax is so eco-friendly:
• It is a 100% renewable and abundant natural resource.
• It is 100% biodegradable without treatments.
• Flax crops require up to 5 times less use of fertilizers and pesticides when compared to
• It grows naturally and with less water than cotton.
• The whole flax plant can be used, resulting in no waste.
• Very little energy is required to process flax.
• Flax farming does not damage the earth beneath, nor is it hazardous to eco systems.
• Less energy and chemicals are used in processing compared to that of artificial textile fiber.
In addition to the eco-friendly qualities of flax, it has a number of advantages that may serve your daily lifestyle. I found linen to be particularly interesting in its beneficial qualities. Growing up in a household where germs stood no chance and everything was hypoallergenic, there are some other features that inevitably appealed to me as well. Some of the advantages of linen are its natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. As a former child with asthma, the anti-allergenic characteristics of linen are noteworthy. I was also amazed to discover that linen does not attract or trap dust particles! Flax makes it all too easy for me to be happy and feel better about the amount of waste I create.
I’m so thrilled about the many uses of flax I take advantage of that any faults linked to its production seem minor. Flax is almost perfect, but that is okay with me because nothing is completely perfect. As with any product grown and produced overseas, the embodied energy levels are higher due to increased transportation and distribution. However, almost everything we purchased must be transported some distance to reach us. I know I don’t walk to the farmer’s market everyday week and buy only local produce (ideally I would), so I can hardly discredit all the benefits of flax simply due to do where it was shipped. In fact, this seems like a minor flaw when you consider that cotton uses a tremendous amount of water to grow and requires a large amount of fertilizing chemicals.
In the end, it turns out I was a bit hard on myself and now realize that I do make little changes in my lifestyle to make a difference. It just took me awhile to notice since I was too busy eating my flax granola that I carry around with me in my linen tote bag. A flax plant might not be as spectacular as a buffalo, but I’ll take it.
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