A few days ago, I finished reading Sleeping Naked is Green by Toronto author Vanessa Farquharson. Three things struck me:
1. She is a Toronto resident, like myself.
2. She is the same age as I am.
3. In the beginning, she knew nothing of being green, tagged herself as a "eco-cynic", and after 366 days, was a veritable green expert and liked many of the changes she made for her life.
Here's how she did it. She made one green change, every day for a year, and blogged about her experience. The changes she made were well-researched, thoughtful and effective, and she received support and wisdom from the blogging community along the way.
So if she can do it, why can't I?
Why indeed. We live in the same place, have access of all the same stores and amenities, and I want to make the earth a better place as well. And hey, along Vanessa's journey to green, she saved money and became healthier, which are not bad side-effects.
My greening process is going to be challenging or course, but for different reasons than hers. For example, I don't live alone. I live with a man who gives little thought to the environment, loves his long hot showers and likes to think of himself as a meatatarian. And while Vanessa had more trouble giving up her vacuum cleaner than selling her car, I would gladly hand over my Hoover right now if it meant I could keep riding my Harley-Davidson. Don't get me wrong - at no point in this challenge will I be selling my motorcycle. I'm making green changes that make sense to me, and I'm not selling a bike that I'm still paying off. Perhaps I'm naive, but I like to think that my bike isn't that bad. It's better than the car sitting in the garage (a Buick Enclave). And I'm running stock pipes and I haven't tinkered with the exhaust system. That means my bike meets strict EPA standards for carbon emissions and noise pollution. I just might be driving the quietest, cleanest Harley on the road.
So here goes. I'm going to be making one green change per day, and writing about it. How long will I last? I don't know. Can I come up with enough changes for a year? Can I stick to this, or will it all fall apart? We'll see. I'll give it my best, and go from there.
One more note before I start. I will not be throwing out perfectly good products and replacing them with green ones. I see this as being wasteful. I will use the non-green product until it is gone, and then I will do without, or replace it with a green alternative.
When I said that I was behind already I meant that I had actually started the challenge four days ago, and just now got around to setting up the blog to chart my progress. Thursday (day one) I needed toilet paper and opted for the 100% recycled paper "green" version sold at Loblaws. I was feeling hesitant, as I normally buy the three-ply, super-quilted, softer-than-soft paper for my bottom, but some friendly lesbians buying the paper convinced me that it was just fine and they liked it. That's enough for me. I didn't tell my man that we were switching toilet paper varieties (I wonder if he's noticed) but I can say that it is thinner than I'm used to, and it doesn't have that plush softness, but you know what? It's fine. It does the job, doesn't fall apart under pressure, and it's good for the planet. Challenge One: easy.
Friday's challenge was easy as well, given the lack of a summer we're having here in Toronto. I turned off the air conditioning. For good. I live in a condo where my utilities are included in my condo fees. Frankly, I could run every appliance in the house 24/7 and I would never see the effect in my bank account. But we're not doing this to save money (ok, yes we are, but that's a secondary goal). We're doing this to be good to the planet. The AC is off and it's staying off, no matter what happens. The door to the terrace is kept wide open anyway (the cats enjoy unrestricted access and tend to let me know their displeasure in loud and sometimes messy ways if this freedom is revoked). I am nervous when I think of the possibility that we could have a summer eventually, and that I will miss the AC and not be able to sleep and night as I lay bathed in my own sweat. *sigh* Time to suck it up princess.
Saturday saw the coming of 100% recycled paper towels. Again, a little scratchy (but who cares? I'm not wiping delicate things with them), and they do their job just fine. Day three: still easy. This can't last.
Today, being day four, I endeavored to invest in an all-natural moisturizer for my face. You see, riding around in the wind in quite drying, and I have dry, sensitive skin to begin with. I had been using a moisturizer from MAC Cosmetics but could no longer justify the cost. I love the fact that MAC does not test on animals, has a large humanitarian effort in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and has a product package recycling program however. This lead to my first visit to a popular local health store called Noah's Natural Foods. Noah's not only carries natural foods, but many natural body products, including The Diva Cup, which will be part of my green plan as soon as I exhaust my supply of tampons.
Anyway, back to Noah's. This place is slightly overwhelming, especially if you have never been in such a store before. Brands I've never heard of, smells I wasn't aware of, and an amazing number of products packed into a small space on Bloor St. The helpful sales gal directed toward my new moisturizer, made by Sigrid Natural Skin Care. I purchased the Carrots & Roses Face Cream, with carrot seeds and rose hips. The product doesn't smell like much, which is fine, and has a nice consistency, for a moisturizer. The ingredient list is short - sweet almond oil, water, bees wax, shea butter, aloe vera, carrot seed oil, rose hip oil, benzoin and myrrh essential oils. It's made in a place called Wilno, ON and the label states "Handmade and Wildcrafted with Love in Canada". Awwww. Canada's first Polish settlement! So cool. And I paid less for this product than I would have had I gone to MAC.
Maybe being green won't be so hard after all!