As a fan of running, hiking, camping and organic farming, I’ve always been conscious of the materials I use and carry, the cups, plates, pots and pans. Carry water bottles, first the plastic Nalgene and increasingly, stainless steel, to keep things cool, but also warm, as a preferred material for the thermos. When not hiking lightweight, just staying longer term in different places, I always like yo bring my own ceramic cup, one of my favorites is made from clay from my homeland. It is easy to carry and immediately provides me with a sense of belonging in a new place when I drink coffee from my cup. The cup has a stamp of place of origin. 

But with our consumerism on a rollercoaster, lately I more and more question the provenance of raw materials, even, or maybe, especially, the presumed sustainable ones. Resources that may not be exhausted anytime soon, like sand, soil, but are non-renewable nonetheless. Clay, the source for ceramics, stainless steel, the only chromite mine in Europe for instance is located in Finland (Kemi Mine). No problems yet, but still gets me thinking about which materials to use. How nice would it be to have information about the production life of each object, such as with my organic vegetables. Each week, my vegetable bag comes with information of the farm(s) they were grown. 

The cup and tiles from Makkum, the Netherlands, the thermos from my time at the National Park Service but no idea where the material comes from, the mat is Japanese, actually a small, comfortable, seat.

Biking around in my neighborhood, the material to use would be the Frisian clay, sea or river clay, and traditional  ceramic and porcelain is still made in the region. But there is something else, something more ephemeral, the flax, and the rustling reed along the fields, material that can be used to make basketry, a local craftsman demonstrates his skill of making duck baskets. Although very nice, I am reminded of the most beautiful baskets from the archaeological record I know, woven more than 1000 years ago. It is hard to stamp with a mark like in clay, but then basketry can be woven into such beautiful designs to mark their maker(s). Maybe it is time we become more intimate with our surrounding green, and learn some skills. 

Look at these beautiful baskets, incredible skills

at the local basketmaker (Blija) and local green (below).