Odds are, if you’ve found your way to my website you are aware of how damaging a consumer culture is for the environment. If this is a new concept for you, please do the world a favor and watch the video below. I’ll wait.
The message couldn’t be more clear. The ‘cradle to grave’ stories behind objects we use everyday have a sinister side. Our throwaway culture has caused irreparable damage to the environment, and the future looks bleak unless some dramatic changes in the way we relate to our stuff begin to take place.
And that is why I get so much joy from discovering people who are taking this mindset to heart and are living it authentically. The Asheville Mother Earth News Fair a few weeks ago was a great opportunity to connect with people discontent with our current system. Lectures, workshops, and tiny houses were available for fair-goers to explore and learn from. And in the center of the vendors selling their sustainable wares, one particular booth stood out to me.
I’m in no way affiliated with this company and am not getting paid to write this post (well, besides a $3 discount on my trowel). It’s simply a business that got me excited and I want to spread the word.
Run by a young couple in Missouri, Homestead Iron produces hand-forged garden tools. From their website,
We use a blend of old and new techniques to make our tools. Our tools are completely hand forged, exactly as they would have been hundreds of years ago. For blade tools, we use C1075 high carbon steel, precision tig welded to a hand forged shank. Every tool is carefully ground by hand to ensure a very sharp cutting edge. All tools go through a special annealing process to relieve internal stress caused by forging. They are then heat trained for a hard cutting edge and a strong, durable shank.
Like his grandfather before him, Will, the man behind Homestead Iron, views his craft as more than a paycheck. Rather, it is a creative outlet that allows him to take pride in each unique piece he creates. In his words “short cuts are never short cuts and low quality is never a bargain.”
Their vast assortment of hand tools at the fair impressed me. I visited their booth several times and eventually got to talking. The conversation struck me. When I asked if they made enough money forging tools to make a career out of it, they looked at each other and replied that this business was their only income, but that they considered it to be a ‘lifestyle job’. They made enough to provide for themselves, and got to do what they loved. It’s likely not a business that will make them rich, but the benefits of doing what they loved were rich enough. Their mindset reminded me of many of the organic farmers I have worked with that regularly put in 16 hour days for less than minimum wage, but took so much pride in the work that they did that they thought it was worth it.
The world needs to more people who are willing to reject the world’s version of success. A hand tool from Homestead Iron will last a lifetime. They guarantee it, and will replace or repair anything that does break. I love my sturdy new trowel and everything it stands for. Every time I putter in the garden now, I’m taking part in a form of radical anti-consumerism.
Let’s all make a commitment to buy simpler things. Invest in products that will last a lifetime. Shake the hand of the person who made it.
Let’s change the system.