Green Recap: November

At the end of last month, I had a bit of a rush, believing for the first time that I’d actually be able to finish this challenge. Another month later, and the rush has turned into impatience. Officially three-quarters of the way into this green year, my lifestyle has reached its eco-friendly saturation point and I’m now pretty much just coasting toward the finish line. It’s not that everything has become easy for me — line-drying socks really sucks, as do Navy Showers and winter restrictions on local produce (my fruit intake these days is limited to apples, apples, pears, and apples) — but I’ve begun to feel like I’m walking in a green daze, unable to do, use or buy anything without first evaluating its carbon impact.

As I was explaining to a friend last night, I’m not sick of being green, but I am a little sick of talking about it, not to mention reading and hearing about all these other people, companies, products and services that are greenifying themselves in some way (often, sadly, in some cursory way). Environmental awareness is reaching an all-time high, which is great — really, truly, totally great — but at the same time, part of me just wants to live as sustainably as possible without droning on about it or getting into some lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of Christmas trees.

I had my first nervous breakdown this month, which was exciting (at least it provided me with yet another way to reduce my footprint). I also bought a house, which will give me lots of green opportunities come February, and sold my apartment, which forced me to keep up my Freecycle activity and reevaluate what I really need and what someone else probably needs more. I’ve also got back into knitting and am bent on learning how to sew, which I think will prove very therapeutic during the long, dark nights.

December will pose a lot of new problems — resisting the onslaught of holiday consumerism and the Christmas party appetizer trays full of cheesy, meaty, probably not organic treats — but will also mean hanging out with friends who’ll be coming back into town from far-away places, who I’m counting on to help cheer me up in this cold, final stretch. And of course, there’s all of you amazing readers, who I only know by screen names like Hellcat13, blah, Greenpa, teaspoon, Susanna a.k.a. Cheap Like Me, limesarah, emily, just ducky, GreenYogini, Chile and more and more and more — I may never have met you, but I owe you immense thanks for pushing me forward.

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8 Responses to Green Recap: November

  1. blah says:

    Aw….big hugs! If you like knitting, try learning how to cross-stitch. It’s really relaxing and you can make gifts for Christmas. I made ornaments one year and they turned out really cute. I don’t have an art or craft bone in my body, and I still found this to be relatively easy.

  2. Chile says:

    I’ve thought about you a lot, Vanessa, and how those multitude of changes must feel like they are really piling up. One change a day doesn’t sound like much until you remember that the new change doesn’t mean you get to give up the previous ones! Kudos to you for sticking with this. You only have a short time left to go, and I’m sure I’m not the only one eager to find out what changes you choose to keep after December 31 rolls over to the new year.

  3. Victoria says:

    Hello,
    I have got a relatively easy suggestion for you if you are running out of things. It is pretty easy to recycle wool (or cotton or whatever it has been knit in) providing you find a sweater the right seams. There is information about it here http://www.az.com/~andrade/knit/thrifty.html
    Good luck! I am amazed at how well your are doing.

  4. blah says:

    I’ve thought about you a lot too Vanessa. I was wondering what you plan on doing after this? Are you going to continue this blog (I hate the word blog, but it is what it is) or are is it just a one-year sort of deal?

    I was thinking about how hard this all must be, and I was wondering if you’ve made a decision on things you plan to give up permanantly? Some of these just seem nuts to me (no light in the bathroom?!) and others seem totally doable.

  5. just ducky says:

    My tag name is now immortalized! I gotten a mention on someone else’s blog!!! Next step…I shall attempt to take over the world!!!!!!!!!!!

    OK, I’m done joking around now…you are a far better person than I—taking on a year long challenge, making 365 steps that add up to a rather huge leap, and immersing yourself in “greeness”…I understand your fatigue. Just the thought of it is overwhelming to me, so you get some serious props for actually doing the project.

    My thoughts as of late have turned philosophical…I “overthink” things way too much…Is using the plastic reusable water bottle (that I already own) better than buying a brand new stainless steel one? Plastics supposedly break down and are harmful, but so is the waste of tossing out what I own and buying something new–not to mention getting it to where I live as well…And if I’m concerned about my health–why would I Freecycle the plastic bottle and potentially harm someone else? And what about dressing fashionably–modestly yet fashionably? Everyone really does judge to some degree on first impressions, so if I want to be taken seriously and have people listen to me long enough to hear my message–shouldn’t I at least dress a little nicely even it if means buying something new? How many times have you heard about the way so-called “hippies” dress? The people not yet accepting/really listening to the environmental messages are the ones who run from or roll their eyes at anyone carrying a hemp woven bag or wearing an ill-fitting outfit purchased from the thrift store. ***As a disclaimer—please don’t write a bunch of heated responses to this post. I’m not saying that all things purchased from the thrift store are ugly/ill-fitted. I’m talking about a small, small number of people whose passion and outspoken-ness have been perceived by others (not myself) as pushy, extremist and ‘out there’.*** Can anyone relate to my point? It’s probably a bit of a defeatist way of thinking and I should just do what I can and stop overthinking it all…

    So as you can see…I understand your fatigue. I understand feeling like you are talking/thinking about it 24/7. I understand the desire for a break of sorts. Keep on moving forward. Keep the faith. I will too.

  6. Hellcat13 says:

    It’s so lovely to know that I’m not the only one having mid-November breakdowns! I thought those were scheduled for February?

    Seriously, though…keep up the good work. Don’t listen to people who criticize over small changes (because, oh my god, 365? I certainly couldn’t come up with that many.) Give yourself at least a one-day pass to enjoy the holidays with friends and family…shortbread/chocolate truffles/your mom’s turkey and stuffing and gravy…whatever your indulgence is, you’ve earned it this year!

  7. I had an environmental blog breakdown in August. Well, it was more like fatigue, lost inspiration, etc. But I eventually snapped out of it – you have a lot going on right now and it doesn’t take much to feel overwhelmed. Hang in there!

  8. I hear you, and thanks for the shout out! I was just having a discussion today: Should I feel too guilty to use my dishwasher? One advantage of the new dishwasher is putting dishes in without washing them first, so we at least keep the water footprint small. But our environmentally friendly dishwasher detergent DOESN’T WORK. I can make my own that works the same amount and saves tons of money. Or I can try a different brand. And geez, I just want to buy a barrel of Cascade and not worry about it!

    Augh!!!

    Er, I mean, uh, hang in there and great work! It’s wonderful to take a step back and remember all the changes you’ve made and how much you have improved your impact — no matter how many of them you enjoy or don’t, I bet most of them will stick, and just think how many minds you’ve changed. Hooray for that!

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