The Not New Jeans

I recently had to retire a pair of jeans, so I’m not ready to lose another. This pair is pretty special too. It’s the only pair I still own from back when I still bought jeans new. They probably lasted so long because I’m very partial to jeans that are blue, but these black jeans are finally fully broken in and super comfortable. Maybe a bit too broken in, as I recently discovered this small hole in the inner thigh section.

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Ripped jeans quickly approaching the point of no repair

It’s a good idea to check your clothes regularly to see if they need mending anywhere, maybe while putting them away after each washing, but much of the time I find my clothes magically washed. For some reason, this is one of the chores my husband enjoys.

Anyhow, even though I found this late and the worn-thin fabric had already developed into a hole that I could poke my finger through, there was still plenty of time to save these jeans. I quickly gathered up some supplies:

  • Some scissors
  • A denim patch from a pair of retired jeans
  • A needle
  • Matching thread

(Some people are really into visible mending and you can do that too, but I prefer the kind that no one notices. )

In this case, the hole was small enough that I started by stitching both sides of the gap together. This makes the rest of the sewing a lot easier.

Then, with the dark side of the patch facing outwards, I loosely sewed it around the worn out area. Sewed a couple of zigzags through the middle to make sure all of it was firmly attached. Sewed near the edges of the patch (after trimming to size) so the patch wouldn’t be tempted to come loose. Sewed any area where it wasn’t already sewn. The inside may not be pretty, but hey it’s the inside. The spot that was previously worn thin is now well-reinforced.

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Completed patch from the inside

Since they’re black jeans and the hole was on the inner thigh, you’d have to be looking really hard to see the patch.

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Mended jeans

So, there you have it. My jeans are saved. The 1,800 gallons of water that it takes to grow cotton for a new pair of jeans is spared. The pesticides, dyes, and chemical softeners that would have gone into creating that new pair are also spared. Best of all, I’m spared the frustrations of trying on a billion pairs of new jeans before finding one that fits kind of okay. I have a perfectly good pair already broken in.

Eating Less Meat

I was looking at the Extinction Facts campaign today, and no matter how many times I’ve heard it already, it always strikes me the amount of resources that go into meat.

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And the really sad part of it is that about 20% of the meat that gets to market doesn’t get eaten. A huge contributor to the following:

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global-wasting

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At the start of the year, my husband I decided to drastically cut back on meat and dairy consumption for our health and for the planet. And so far, so good. It’s given us a chance to try new veggies, new fruits, new grains. He’s lost weight. I have more energy. And my favorite part is not having to deal with stinky meat wrappers.

Initially I thought this would just be temporary. I am, after all, a Texan and love some brisket. But amazingly it’s become normal now. We eat meat only a couple of times a week and even then in much smaller portions than previously. Sometimes our normal meals are something as simple as lentils and rice. Or we chop up a variety of veggies to go into our fried rice or vegetarian chili.

My husband is still generally sold on the concept of meat as part of every meal but is more than happy to get some tofu, chickpeas (which to him really do taste like chicken), black bean burgers, TVP (soy shaped like beef crumbles) much of the time. Surprisingly, he also loves the lentils and rice. I wish I had known that back when money was really tight!

If you’re a meat-eater, I’d encourage you to also try going vegan every once in a while and try new foods to see what you like and what you love. If that’s unthinkable, I encourage you to just take your leftovers to go at the restaurant. Even if that means taking home a foam clamshell. Eat them for lunch the next day, or reinvent them into a new food creation. If you buy meat at the supermarket and aren’t going to eat it right away, freeze it until you need it and put it in the fridge to thaw the day before to ensure it doesn’t go bad. And don’t ridicule you’re uncle Harry for gnawing on the chicken leg until every last bit of meat is gone; that’s the way to do it.

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With some simple changes, we can make less food go further. We can prevent meat waste and savor every delicious morsel. Apologies to the vegetarians out there, but I still find meat to be truly appetizing and appreciate it even more now that I don’t eat it every day.

Milk Matters

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Milk factory. Photo from The New York Public Library

Last NovemberĀ I decided to learn a bit more about water conservation. After all, this past summer we went 50 days without more than a trace of rain here in Austin, Texas. When picking up the book Taking on Water at the library, I intended to get some ideas on how to save water in the bathroom, laundry, or similar areas, and there were indeed some good insights there. But one thing that stuck out was the whopping amount of water that it takes to produce meat and dairy products. To produce one pound of beef requires 1800 gallons of water. One glass of milk requires 30 gallons of water.

Seeing the harmful effects of meat and dairy in this context just adds onto issues like methane emissions, excessive cow excrement, huge monoculture crops for feed, deforestation. I had already cut down on the amount of meat I eat and have also been mostly successful at sticking to grassfed, but it wasĀ time to do more.

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To try and get my husband on board, we watched the documentary Cowspiracy. And I stopped by the library and checked out a related book recommendation — The China Study. That first documentary had left me a bit defensive because although it started out well enough with the facts, it ended by pretty much saying that you’re an absolutely horrible person if you ever consume any milk or dairy products. The China Study wasn’t quite so damning but instead discussed scientific studies done which suggested that from a nutrition standpoint animal product consumption may not be required for human health and in some cases is likely harmful. There are a number of refutations of those results out there, but they’re targeted at the second part of that equation. Not many are saying that meat and milk are required.

In grade school I was taught that milk was critical to good health. It even had its own block on the food pyramid. And just now I’m finally learning that it’s not even necessary. The amount of protein I consume daily is more than enough, and it’s possible to get all the calcium I need from produce. Fewer calories dedicated to milk meansĀ I can get more diversity in the food I consume. Harvard’s alternate nutrition guidelines list milk as a water alternative, recommending limiting dairy to at the very most two servings per day.

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I’m not an activist for animal rights. And I’m still not quite convinced that drinking two tall glasses of milk a day will kill me. But I am an advocate of wasting less.

As I mentioned in my New Years Resolutions post, my general goal for the year is to consume less meat and dairy to conserve resources. For the first two weeks of the year, my husband and I followed a plant-based diet and the amazing thing was that it was fine. I didn’t miss meat and I didn’t miss dairy (other than when I ate unbuttered popcorn). Making my morning oatmeal with milk turned out totally fine. And I’ve never been a huge cheese fan. I’m not perfect, I’m sure to still have a pad of butter on special occasions when I can fully appreciate it. But it’s good to not have to lug home an extra half-gallon of milk from the grocery store for my consumption.

We have delicious tap water here. Tap is terrific!