Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shrink

Photo courtesy Flickr

Now and then I consider the contents of my bag and recall how much weight, precious metal, and space have been saved by miniaturized circuitry and plastic. One generous tote holds the contents of an 8’x10’ office and a conventional dressing table.

A small battery-powered fan with a heavy base and finger-safe plastic blades does the work of a free-standing brass behemoth with a blade cage and heavy power cord. 

Organizing the essentials of domestic life around hiker’s field gear transforms a domicile of fixed-purpose rooms and dormant furniture into a low-maintenance backdrop for any personal initiative. It’s good to contemplate a rolling backpack and know in my bones that it contains a working household.

The Great Big Hiking Co-op carries a line of featherweight tools from Oregon’s  Baby Food Knife Company. Their folding shovel, handsaw, and other similar compact, multi-tools from the Co-op’s inventory have displaced a yard of domestic maintenance kit. Given the price of a cubic foot of Seattle housing, that’s not an insignificant gain. The field tools won’t replace big boy stuff for production, but they’re valuable for minor maintenance and emergency preparedness. Life changes when you pass along the peavy and the chain saw. It also changes when a digital printer replaces 1500 pounds of cast-iron hand press.

Field and travel wardrobe displace all but the most ritualized high-maintenance clothing. Travel grooming essentials turn gallons into grams.

Cultivating the modest flowers of native plants in favor of brash commercial versions has simplified garden gear to one dairy crate and a lawn mower.

Gradually, interior lighting and digital batteries are going off the grid and onto portable window-sill charging units.

It takes decades to shift a household to green tech, but the payoff is sure.

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