Ecofeminism, Subsistence Living & Nature Awareness

June 24, 2009

Brooms are ancient and useful tools!

Filed under: Paula Mariedaughter,Subsistence Living — Paula Mariedaughter @ 2:57 pm
Kitchen Broom from Henson Brooms

Kitchen Broom from Henson Brooms

Brooms are ancient and useful tools! A well crafted broom made with natural broom corn works well on either our hardwood floors or on the section of the house floored with river rocks. Brooms are quiet and consume no electricity! But, well-made brooms of natural materials are hard to find. I don’t want plastic brooms and I cannot tolerate the roar of vacuum cleaners. In the 1970s I found a horsehair hand broom at a thrift store that I use with a vintage metal dust pan. My horsehair broom may be fifty years old and it is still performing well. These three tools are all I need to sweep dog hair and debris from the floor. When I went looking to replace our current broom after five years of use, I could not find a local source that met my standards. No one in northwest Arkansas carried a broom to meet these standards!

We know from family lore in Jeanne’s family that one of her Dad’s first sales jobs in the 1940s was to sell the new household cleaning tool–the vacuum cleaner. Of course he approached his extended family first to try his sales pitch and to try to make his first sale. Despite his persuasive personality there was a problem with selling vacuum cleaners. Most people did not have carpeting! In fact, a well made broom still did the best job sweeping up debris on bare floors. Brooms are portable, easily stored, not heavy or noisy. Not until carpeting became the norm did vacuum cleaners become ubiquitous.

Jeanne and I have an ancient vacuum in a storage area far from the house, but I dragged it out yesterday because I need to suck up as much dust as possible because we were having part of the ceramic tile entrance area replaced. Vacuum cleaners are superior for this task. We had plenty of sunshine, so I did not have to be concerned about the pull of electricity required from our solar energy system.

Ideally, I would be growing broom corn and learning to make my own brooms or trading my skills with someone locally who made brooms. Instead, I bought this Kitchen Broom from a family business called Henson Broom shop in Kentucky ( and paid to have it shipped to Arkansas. Our new broom performs well and is a pleasure to use.

I feel good about bringing this product into my home. Often I have mixed feeling about the things I choose to buy and use–from my favorite yoguart because it is packaged in plastic containers, to the electronic devices I use to make a living like our computers and the printer/scanner.

Brooms do not require nuclear energy or coal to produce the electricity to move them. Brooms are not noisy. I find that vacuums drown out thought! In most parts of the world, wall-to-wall carpeting is uncommon and homes have tile or hardwood floors, which are easily swept, wiped, or mopped.

Is it cool to use a broom? What urban hipster knows how to make one? Try this trick when you are next looking for a good broom: five years ago a Kentucky broom maker told me that a good broom will stand up on its own and proceeded to demonstate the fact that his brooms will do so. Do you have a broom well balanced enough to stand alone? Do you have a broom story?

1 Comment »

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