Becoming Greenific

Leg Warmers

Ok … time for another confession.

Even though I grew up on a farm, I have never been much of a tree hugger. In fact, I am so poorly versed in eco-friendly culture, I have no idea whether or not it is all right to call anyone a tree hugger or not, even when referring to one’s self. This may be the equivalent of using other offensive, outmoded words – and I would just have no idea.

It’s not that I don’t care about the earth, but that I grew up in a place where the land and its resources were so enmeshed with daily life that they required little extra thought. The farmers seemed to take good care of our pastures. (That was their job.) My dad led soil and water conservation for years and prided himself on his best practices. But I guess I always thought of these things in economic terms: you turn off the water while brushing your teeth because if you waste water, you waste money; same with the lights, and shutting the door behind you, and running the attic fan instead of the air conditioning. Conserving soil and water on the farm seemed also to reap financial rewards, although I do remember my dad mentioning something about erosion, and that it was bad.

These days, conservationists are all the rage. Thanks to An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore and global warming have become national celebrities. Going green has taken on similar characteristics to the ’80s fitness rage. Reducing one’s carbon footprint is the 2000’s equivalent of jazzercise (sans leg-warmers).

I found An Inconvenient Truth almost unbearable to watch – not because I don’t like ‘ol Al, but because what he was saying was so true, and so devastating, and so big. It was like discovering that someone or something you’d been taught was immortal had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Suddenly (but not really suddenly), we are the ones in charge of saving everything – not just our own lawns, but everyone else’s, too.

I have never been one to jump on bandwagons. If the entire world is talking about a novel (think The DaVinci Code), for example, I’d really rather not read it. But this whole carbon footprint thing has gotten under my skin. It goes beyond the bandwagon. It must.

I, for one, am going to follow in the steps of my awesome, aforementioned sister-in-law, Jupe. Jupe is always thinking of new ways to be ecologically sound, and, for her birthday, I found these awesome bags called Envirosax. They are extra-strong, reusable grocery bags, which means that you save our landfills and recycling facilities from some plastic – and look stylish in the process. Jupe loved them so much, I’ve decided I should get some, too. (They come five in a set, and hold two plastic bags worth of groceries each!)

Still, I fear that our little smartcars and our recycling drives and our styrofoam avoidance will go the way of jazzercise. For heaven’s sake – if our current health trends are any indication, our air and water don’t stand a chance. According to the American Obesity Association, since 1976 (my birth year), our population’s percentage of overweight people has risen from 46% to 64%; the rate of national obesity has more than doubled, from 14.4% to 30.5%. So much for jazzercise. (Were the legwarmers to blame?)

I don’t have any answers on how to be greenific (remember, I’m a newbie – officially “green” – ha!), but I am committed to being my own little green person in whatever way I can. I hope, for the world, carbon reduction becomes as enmeshed with daily life as the rhythms of the land were for me growing up.

If anyone has helpful suggestions on how to become more ecofriendly – beyond buying Envirosax and conserving energy – please make a comment on my blog.

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5 thoughts on “Becoming Greenific

  1. HI! Like you, I’m not a bandwagon kind of girl. To this day I haven’t read DaVinci Code, or seen Pulp Fiction or An Inconvenient Truth. I don’t really need to see Truth though, since I’ve read enough of Al’s writing (and I do hope he’s a better film maker than writer)

    At any rate, congrats on making the first steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle. My first piece of advice is to make contacts with other people who are also making changes, it makes it easier when you start to feel down about it- which will happen. It can be daunting but it can also be a lot of fun.

    I started small and I’m slowly working my way up to more sustainable living. I’m reducing my carbon foot print by drying clothes outside instead of in the dryer, I am trying to eat a diet of mostly local food (i just can’t let go of coffee!) and slowly replacing household cleaners and personal hygiene products with safer, more responsible alternatives.

    Stop by my blog and check out my blog roll and links, there are a lot of great bloggers out there. And feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions or just want to vent frustrations!

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  2. Thanks to Ellen, I now recycle…occasionally. However, I do feel guilty when I throw my water bottle in the garbage. Progress is good, right? I have room to grow in the green realm of life.

    Here is an EXTREME example of someone committed to living all things green. He is called No Impact Man. His blog is noimpactman.typepad.com. This is intense. There are a few tips in there that are useful for the not quite so intensely committed. Check out his “a day in the life of…” http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/2007/09/a-day-in-our-li.html
    and my favorite, “How We Avoid Making Trash” for an in-your-face example that will test how green you really want to be! http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/2007/07/how-we-avoid-ma.html

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  3. I just started using the Useagain Bag for my groceries and absolutely love it! I’m new to this recycling thing so I’ve much to learn, but just trying to avoid using all the plastic is making me aware of how much plastic I get in a week’s time. …some I can recycle for other uses, but I look forward to the day when I don’t use any of it. Check out the Useagain Bags at heavensentdesigns.com

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  4. 1% green practiced by everyone has a far greater impact than 100% green practiced by a few. So blog blog blog about all the little things we each can do.

    Remember to focus on the heathens, not the choir.

    I am a science teacher. In a recent workshop on Earth Science, we were informed that the National Science Foundation is no longer accepting proposals on Global Warming Research. Instead, their position is that regardless of global warming’s cause, it is a fact, and now how do we live with it. I personally agree with that.

    As far as Al’s movie, it is an excellent production, however, some science was left out. This matters little if the NSF’s view is accepted.

    Thanks for the inspiration…

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  5. Have you ever read Wendell Berry? He has written quite a bit of fiction and nonfiction, most of it centered around environmental responsibility, community, rural economy, and progess. “The Unsettling of America” is as good a place to start as anywhere, prescient for its time. He is probably the most thoughtful steward of the earth’s resources that I have read considerably, yet he loathes being lumped into the “environmentalist” movement. Very interesting read.

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