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A year and a half ago I became obsessed with the size of landfills. (This could be the result of too much time on my hands to simply think about things, but still.) I had seen some photographs of the largest ones in places like India, South America, and the Pacific. Resulting nightmares about our sweet planet becoming covered in kudzu-like garbage brought on the obsession. Because I already recycle everything I can, I spent a couple of weeks thinking about what one person working alone could do. The answer: keep fabric out of landfills for as long as possible. The holiday season was coming up, so I decided to sew used towels and cotton prints into those old-fashioned square potholders for presents for my big extended family. They were such a hit that I’m now making them for everything from wedding gifts to birthday presents. And while I’ve only managed to keep a couple of pounds of cloth in circulation so far, I have hope, still believing that The Little Engine That Could had a mantra worth singing (“I think I can, I think I can …”). An unexpected outcome of this effort has been the discovery …

Geri Larkin is the founder and former head teacher of Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple, a Zen meditation center in the heart of inner-city Detroit. She is the author of many books including Stumbling Toward EnlightenmentBuilding a Business the Buddhist Way,Tap Dancing in ZenFirst You Shave Your Head, and The Still Point Dhammapada


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