The EcoGrrl Interview: Nancy



Nancy was introduced to me by another interviewee, Eve, and runs the utterly cool blog, focusing on using salvage in the home and overall reuse and recycling.  Awesome!  I can’t wait to meet her this summer!

What or who inspires you most? Talent, like Ella Fitzgerald. This also inspires jealousy and feelings of inadequacy, but the pure talent of artists is inspiring. I am also inspired by the people out there who push the envelope. These people may seem crazy to their peers, but they’re making us stretch our minds and our expectations. I don’t want a composting toilet, for example, but I love that there are people out there who do.

What do you turn to when you need strength? Drugs and alcohol. (LOL!) Friends and sunshine are much healthier and more reliable for the long-term mental health adjustments we all need.

How can women best support and/or empower other women? Women have the extraordinary ability to be catty and nasty to other women, especially when backs are turned. This is the exact opposite of supportive. I don’t like the feeling I get when I’m catty and nasty, so I ask myself a couple of questionss. First, do I honestly dislike this person? If so, I should not hang out with them. My negative energy is not helping anyone in the room, and it’s certainly not helping me. Second, am I being nasty because I’m really feeling jealous or insecure? If so, I give the other person the props she deserves and work on my own issues with jealousy or insecurity. Hopefully that is empowering to other women. And it certainly helps me feel better about myself.

What do you love to grow? What would you like to try growing someday? I like to grow a messy looking flower garden with a riot of color. I would really really like to grow an insane amount of tomatoes. Preferably cherry tomatoes. I’m trying to grow food this year for the first time, and tomatoes planted in hay bales are top priority!

What are your creative outlets?  Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t? I am a scrap hound. I love to check out scrap yards and antique stores for scrap and salvage I can use around the house. And I’m serious about scrap on a big level – it’s more than a hobby! My floors are salvaged wood and recycled leather from old cars. My deck is made from (60,000 pounds of) metal salvage. I’ve got a thing for old industrial lights. Digging through scrap metal is my idea of heaven.

I really want to speak more languages, Spanish in particular. It’s on my to-do list for “later”. So many people in the US speak Spanish, and I like to eavesdrop and people-watch and talk to everyone. I need to speak Spanish or I’m missing out on a lot of good conversations and connections.

In what environment(s) do you feel most in your element? Any scrap yard. Construction sites. I like to walk into a store and engage in conversation with the owners / employees about what they do and where they find their inventory. Of course, this is a conversation for places like the Green Depot or the Rebuilding Center rather than at the mall.

Who are your top three nonprofits you support and/or volunteer with and why?

  1. Dress for Success, because clothes are armor. When you need a job, when you need to re-invent yourself, clothes are important.

  2. The Repair Node (new to Portland and hopefully our first repair café) – because repair cafés help keep stuff out of landfills.

  3. Planned Parenthood – because it’s Planned Parenthood, and matters of health matter most.

What recent “green” change have you made in your own life?  What’s next? I have started a small lettuce and tomato garden on my deck. For some reason, growing my own food is an intimidating notion, so I’m starting small with plans to expand every year. I hope.

Also, I just discovered that Aveda stores take screw-on plastic caps (from detergent bottles, for example), so I’m now collecting those to return rather than throwing them out.

Where in the world do you consider a sanctuary?  Why? Aaah! I’ve been working on this question for years, but without realizing it. My home is my haven, and it reflects my favorite things: salvage, re-use, metal, scrap, and sunshine. I’ve been working on it for about 15 years now, and it is my sanctuary. Away from my home, my mom’s house (particularly the deck or patio) is a comfort. My best friends’ comfy couches. And a dark movie theater, a good coffee shop. That’s a lot of places!

What advice would you give to your younger self? It doesn’t matter because I wouldn’t listen to myself anyway. Never have. I would tell myself to listen to my gut more, and then maybe tattoo that request on my hand so I would actually see the reminder from time to time.

How can we as a society be more radical in supporting a healthy planet? I like the unpopular options that would hurt people on an individual pocketbook level. Make recycling free, but charge by weight for landfill garbage. Double the price of gas. I don’t think we should rely on corporations and government to improve the environment; we must work more from our individual levels and vantage points. If people buy less gas because of its cost, perhaps we’ll have more progress on electric / battery alternatives. I drive less now than in prior years, but if gas were more expensive, I would keep cutting back.

What sparked your interest in environmental issues?   What’s the first “eco” thing you ever did? I don’t know the specific AHA! moment as I’ve been a recycler as long as I remember. When I fell in love with metal scrap is a mystery.

How do you live simply? I have many years of rampant consumerism far behind me, and those days left souvenirs: lots of clothes and shoes and stuff. Before I buy something these days, I think, how many (shoes, purses, blouses) do I have like this? That usually prevents a purchase. I also try to remove one item for every item I bring in to the house, so that keeps me from consuming. “No-drive days” and a CSA membership also inspire. Plus I’m continually trying to decrease my use of plastic. Plastic is insidious, so that’s a tall order, but I’m making strides.

Could you leave us with a favorite quote of yours? “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein


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