Green Recap: June

The first quarter of this year-long challenge was defined by a pervading sense of fear and anxiety about whether or not I could actually pull it off. As more and more people kept asking me things like, “How are you going to think of 365 things?”, “Have you planned this out?” and “Are you OK?”, I got more and more panicky.

Now that I’m a third of the way in, I’d say the fear has subsided and been replaced with weariness. It’s not that I feel secure about succeeding in this, because there is a serious chance I won’t, but there are so many days when the last thing I want to be doing is sitting in front of my computer wondering what my 124th green change will be. My mother tells me that I smell, my hair looks like crap and I’ll never get a boyfriend. I’m not really concerned because she’s already spent years trying to coax me out of ill-fitting jeans and into pretty dresses to no avail. But I have to admit, some of these changes are making me more stressed and irritable and the gaggle of zits on my forehead, which have somehow attained permanent-resident status, don’t help.

Interestingly, the no-fridge thing hasn’t been nearly as big a problem as I thought it would (although when I stopped by my parents’ house recently to raid their tool kit, I suddenly found myself raiding their fridge instead, gorging on their tub of cold, cold yogurt as my lactase enzyme danced with joy). It’s often the little things that bug me, like remembering to save used water for my plants, asking every cashier if they have to print out a receipt, and if they do, whether or not they can recycle it. Or there are the times when I do something stupid like refill my bottle of laundry detergent before a shopping trip with my sister, which in that case meant I had to carry it around with me into every store (on the bright side, it was a great conversation starter).

It’s these niggly things that are truly getting to me. Everyone was shocked to hear that I actually sold my car, but to be honest, I love being able to bike to work in the morning and get some sun and exercise, or take the subway and read my book, instead of sitting in traffic on the highway getting road rage and listening to inane talk radio. Even hand-washing my dishes has been an easy, relaxing experience.

This is what I’m realizing is important: We should all be taking baby steps towards greener living, but sometimes it’s the biggest things that are the easiest to give up. I’d rather toss out a few receipts and not have a car than recycle them all and drive everywhere; I’d rather drink an Australian shiraz and keep my fridge unplugged than restrict myself to Ontario plonk and have cold food. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. We’re brought up to place great value in things like cars, fridges and dishwashers, yet these really aren’t as necessary as they seem.

I’m late for my second meeting with Bruce in the lumber department at Home Depot (keep reading next week to see what that’s all about), so that’s it for the recap. I hope it wasn’t too depressing — I promise my mood will be a lighter shade of green once I’m on vacation!

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9 Responses to Green Recap: June

  1. limesarah says:

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with my boyfriend on reduction issues…I think part of it is that it’s easier to respond to a change in your situation (lack of fridge) than it is to constantly remember that you are supposed to be changing somethin (recycling). You can’t suddenly forget and use your fridge, because it would take a considerable amount of effort to start it up again, and your car’s gone, so you can’t get lazy and drive it. But it’s so easy to slip into the old pattern and just throw out that bottle instead of carrying it home to recycle, or buy the imported processed food from the store instead of searching for a local organic version.

  2. lauren says:

    i just have to say that as hard as this all seems some day you are doing an amazing job! i love reading about all the ups and dows, becasue as we all know they are BOTH part of life, and i love that you talk about how annoyed you are and how hard it is some times, we all have those moments. my friend told me about your blog – and we both read it every day – we are always talking and sharing little ideas to try to be more green. and we have gotten some ideas from your blog! and i just read the re-cap for june and wondered if you have ever heard of suki skin products and if they might sell them in your area (so you dont have to ship)… i love their stuff! it’s natural and everything in there is natrual… you can read more about it on their web site but i thought of this one product inparticular: http://www.sukisnaturals.com/product.php?product_id=17 i love it for my blemishes. this product is also amazing: http://www.mothernature.com/shop/detail.cfm/sku/86505/tab/2 i love it!!! and it’s homeopathic! anyway – i can relate to your need for products! i am the same – and having to cut back has been hard, but i guess in turn i seem to be finding some great green products to replace all the old yucky bad ones, and recycleing the containers. anyway – i just wanted to say that i love your blog and you are an inspiration – even in your hours of doubt. can’t wait to see what is to come. – lauren

  3. Mary says:

    Hi Vanessa,

    Okay, I know you are are really tired and burned out. I am sure it is draining, and honestly, there are times when throwing in the towel probably feels like the logical option. BUT for what it is wprth, you are a great inspiration to a lot of us.

    For instance, last night my husband and I were heading out to a movie. At the door, I realized that at the theater I could (a) drink some high fructose corn syrup laden soft drink – and feel miserable the next day because that stuff just has a bad effect on me; (b) buy bottled water at the theater – after paying $5 for it, AND then having to carry it come to recycle it (c) get a plastic cup for tap water – not so horrible, except it’s a small cup and again would need to be recycled; OR (d) take just a second, refill my groovy water bottle here at the house, put it in my bad and carry it with me – avoiding cost, HFCS hangovers, hoping to recycle, etc. Suffice to say, I really enjoyed my bottle of water from home while watching the flick.

    It’s small, but honestly, I found myself thinking “what would what’s her name in Canada do?” and I did that.
    And throughout my day, I’m finding myself doing that. From buying great fresh local produce to recycling to not using the over in the summertime (if possible).

    You are making a GREAT impact with this work.

    Thank you for doing it and I hope others will check it out too!

    (Oh, and as a product junky – for a great exfoliant – try a touch baking soda with your soap. It’s WONDERFUL!!)

  4. Bill F says:

    This is a great experiment in green living and I enjoy reading your adventures with reducing consumerism and increasing impact awareness. We’re rooting for you and hope you make it, but remember that it is an experiment asking “If?” 365 little changes are possible.

    One suggestion (worth what you’re paying for it) is perhaps you should issue yourself some small number of “Get out of jail free” cards. If one of your changes proves to be completely unworkable, unpractical, or just plain inefficent in its green to grief ratio then use up one of your cards and call it a lesson learned.

    In any case we’re learning important things about how many things can be changed and how much change can be tolerated. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. Dena Burnett says:

    Here is an idea that has been working well for me in the face department. I have always felt like I had to use the $50 face wash to keep my skin clear , which is odd because it was still not clear. About a month ago I ran out of this precious face wash (Peter Thomas Roth, in case you were wondering), but instead of buying more I have dumped it for a homemade scrub. Equal parts oatmeal, almonds, and sea salt. Oatmeal is great for the skin, almonds exfoliate, and sea salt kills bacteria. Grind it in a coffee grinder to a powder, and keep in it a Tupperware in the bath. Just mix a little water with it (think paste) and scrub away. And all those break outs, gone. Magic, and I have never felt that way about my face before. Just a little secret from one greeney to another.

  6. gettinggreen says:

    You guys are so sweet! You’re going to make me cry, seriously! Limesarah — you are TOTALLY right about the reduction conundrum. It’s way easier to change your lifestyle when you make it difficult or impossible to cheat. That’s something I need to keep in mind as I think of other tacks to take. Thanks for the product recommendations, Lauren. I don’t recall seeing either of those brands here in T.O. but I’m also not the most observant person in the world, so I’ll try to keep an eye out next time I’m shopping. Mary, it’s stories like yours that remind me of the most important reason I’m doing this: so that others decide to do it with me! I love hearing that you thought of that girl in Canada right before heading out to the movies and filled up that water bottle — SO much better than $13 HFCS! And Bill, that’s a great idea… we’ll see how it goes, but by Day 300 I might definitely need to create some sort of “Get Out of Green” card!

  7. Isle Dance says:

    Hang in there. It gets much easier. After eighteen years of intentionally doing this, moderation is definitely the key. Soon everybody else will look like a freak to ((you)). :)

  8. mollyjade says:

    I just got done reading “Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices” by the Union for Concerned Scientists, and one of the main points of the book is that we should concentrate on changing things that make a big difference but not worry about the things that don’t make much of a difference. Selling your car and turning off your fridge made a huge difference, but asking about receipts probably doesn’t make much of a difference. Your project is really inspiring, especially in challenging us to ask what we really need and what we just want. But when the year is over, I say don’t sweat the small stuff.

  9. See… this is why you needed a weekend at the cottage. I totally understand what you’re saying. I think this is why most people just don’t bother. It is much easier to be apathetic. Sometimes I would like to throw my quinoa out the window and order in a pepperoni pizza but ultimately I know that is not REALLY what I want (and I certainly could do without the diarrhea that would surely follow such an indulgence). But yes, being a good person, sticking to morals and values and more than that, setting an example for others to be inspired by or try and live up to can be exhausting. But you are doing amazing and are super inspiring and if I could give you a gold medal for green living… well I would- but i guess I would make it green.

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