How Much Greener Could You Get?

Sunday, March 09, 2008
Apparently I could be a whole lot more environmentally friendly. Truth be told, I rarely recycle. Despite having a recylce centre less than a block from my apartment (in fact I can see those giant blue and yellow bins from the back door). I hate having to seperate them and I use the excuse that I just don't have the space. Yes, me. The one who is constantly harping on co-workers to turn their lights out and bitches at her boss for using at least one non-reusable paper coffee cup from Starbucks every single weekday. I admit it. Even at work, my pop cans often end up in the trash. This will be changing however.

Last week, CBC Radio One's The Current interviewed Vanessa Farquharson. She's a writer for The National Post as well as the author of her own blog, Green as a Thistle. It was this blog that was the subject of the interview. I hadn't heard of her or her blog before this but I wish I had. Approximately one year ago, Vanessa decided to go green. And we're not just talking about recycling, buying organic, or walking more. No, she decided to change her life one day at a time by making a permanent green change every single day. Yep, that's 365 (actually 366 because she choose a leap year without thinking!) different green changes to her lifestyle.

Talk about taking on a challenge. Now, when you look at her list of the changes she made (or tried to make) she had some obvious things you'd expect to see: giving up styrofoam (day 3) which means no take out unless you use your own containers, no more bottled water (day 6), changing her bulbs to CFLs (day 34), or using scrap paper instead of post-it notes (day 246). It's some of the more shall we say "radical" changes she made that most people wouldn't imagine doing: how many of us would be willing to buy only used furniture and have it recovered (day 269), stop drinking individual drinks that come in cans or bottles (days 136 & 137), sell our car (day 117), stop using their fridge (day 78) or their oven (day 67)?

Oh sure, she's also got some ideas that make you shake your head a bit: giving up gum (day 65), smiling at people she doesn't know (day 217), only writing poetry in Haiku form (day 361) or stop shaving our legs (day 277). A little odd yes? Until you really think about it. Consider how much packaging goes into one package of gum? Especially the kind that comes in stick form (like Juicy Fruit, Big Red, Doublemint, etc). Plus how disgusting do our sidewalks look, at least here in North America, from all the times people have just spat their gum onto the ground rather than into a garbage bin (um...guilty). And the Haiku? It's probably one of the shortest forms of poetry, therefore it takes up less space, and paper.

I have to admit I'm a big waster when it comes to the environment. Yes, I have some CFL's and I occasionally recyle. And at home, I always bag up my cans/bottles and leave them for the people who wander our alleys looking for them. And I wash my clothes in cold water. But like most of us, there's a lot more that I can do. Being in the basement and with two cats who looooove dirt, I can't really have plants (although I have a bunch at work) but when mom and I eventually move in together, we'll have lots and a balcony to grow our own cherry tomatoes. I've also picked up a package of green bean seeds I'm looking forward to seeing if I can grow. I'm also hoping to try and grow some basil. We don't use airconditioners, and we both prefer the indoor temp to be cool with lots of fresh air, even in winter. I'm giving up ordering from Amazon and sticking with Audrey's or our other great local sellers although still keeping my wishlist on the website as it's better than paper! There's the possibility of switching to handkerchiefs, at least for home, rather than the numerous boxes of kleenex I go through every year. (Photo by GreenScraper)

Check out her website and see how many changes you'd be willing to try. No one's suggesting we all give up electricity and grow our own hemp in the backyard so we can weave our own clothes but one or two changes, even if they seem relatively small and unimportant, can make a big difference if enough people try. My question to you, loyal readers, is this: what are you doing to save the planet and what is the weirdest environmental suggestion you've ever heard?


Wandering Coyote said...

I am hugely into cloth grocery bags instead of the plastic ones you get at most stores. I have four and that's plenty for my needs, plus I usually carry a backpack when I go out so I can put smaller shopping items in it instead of a bag. I recycle as much as I can (we're lucky to have curbside recycling here). I'd love to compost, but it is discouraged around here because it's a huge bear attractant. I take transit or walk - don't own a vehicle. I don't eat much processed food and make my own baked goods and cook from scratch as much as possible.

I'll have to check out this blog, though. It sounds great.

mister anchovy said...

I was OK until the poetry. Surely, she isn't writing shorter poetry to save on paper? Maybe she should just switch to improvised spoken-word poetry and use no paper at all.

By the way, we recycle at Anchovy World Headquarters, (and I use my own mug for coffee at work instead of paper cups)...on the other hand, we drive....

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

We've been recyling our glass, cans, and cardboard snce we move din our current place about 10 years ago. Recently we switched to cloth grocery bags and we change out bulbs with the longer lasting ones when the old ones blow. I too will now stop shaving my legs in solidarity with that green gal. :)

sp said...

Thanks again for directing me to another great blog. Also check out the 60% Campaign blog linked from whoville.

I have to say I'm pretty proud of our how we live here. I know db, kitties and I could do more -- like live without the heater. That said, we've been recycling and composting for so long I don't even think about it anymore. I've been using my own hankies and diva cup that it's odd to think of disposing of such things. I've used my own shopping bags for years (finally people have stopped looking at me like some weirdo in the checkout line).

Living outside of the "big city" can be a challenge relying on public transit, but I just don't want to own a car ever (unless it's electric).

I think it's a good idea to set green goals for ourselves. I'll have to set some for myself.

sp said...

Oh I forgot, the weirdest environmental suggestion I've ever heard?

Save your bath water to flush your toilet.

I'm sorry, but if I have dinner guests over I am not going to request that they dip into yesterdays bath water to flush the toilet.

I'll stick with the water bottle in the toilet tank for now to conserve water.

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