20 April 2011

Money & Environment: Doing It Yourself

Creating solutions to everyday problems can be extremely gratifying. Making things yourself can also save money and reduce negative impact on the earth. Here are some things to consider when thinking of doing it yourself:

Do you have the tools to complete your project?
Some projects require special tools, or a complement of common tools that may be out of reach for the urban Pagan apartment-dweller. Are the tools' usefulness transferable to other projects? If the tools are particularly expensive or cumbersome, it might not be worth the cost to do-it-yourself. Also consider that you might be able to borrow or rent tools to complete your activity. For really expensive tools, consider a place like TechShop for professional tools.

Are the materials more costly than purchasing the finished project?
In some cases, buying the materials can be more expensive than purchasing the finished product. It isn't unusual to spend more at the fabric store for all the necessities to sew clothing than it is to buy it off the rack. If your aim is to save money, sometimes it is cheaper to buy the finished item.

Is it labor intensive or does it require specialized skills?
Many Pagans fantasize about making their own ritual knife or sword. However, blade making is a skill that requires lots of practice to develop. If you're committed to learning a highly technical skill, there is no reason why you couldn't go for it - only you know your own time constraints.
This is also where knowing your Real Salary can come in handy - is it worth your time to make something yourself? For instance, unless you're a hardcore foodie, making your own tortillas is a labor-intensive undertaking that probably won't give you the returns on investment of time that spending a few bucks at the local mercado would.

Is quality important?
In some cases, it will be really important that your finished project is of high quality. If you make a piece of furniture for instance, it will need to bear the weight of a human adult reasonably well. If you are building your own greenhouse, you'll want the windows to be well supported. If you make your own pottery, you'll want to make sure your glazes are lead-free and safe for food.

Are aesthetics important to you?
In many situations, unless you're willing to put in hours and hours of practice, your hand-made objects will look handmade. In other situations, function is more important than form. I have created some objects that are lamentably obvious in their hand-crafted appearance. If you prioritize the looks of an object, and you don't have the skills under your belt, it might be better to just buy it.

SF Bay Area folks - The Makers' Faire is coming!!! May 21 & 22 Lots of exhibits and presentations to inspire DIY projects - check it out.

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