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Announcing: Tree-Hugger Tuesdays!

July 28, 2011

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

~ Native American Proverb

Not sure if you’ve picked up on this or not, but I consider myself a bit of a “lipstick hippie.” This is a term a friend of mine coined to describe those of us that tree-hug and dirt-worship, but don’t smell of patchouli or dread our hair (although sometimes mine tries to dread on its own. Not kidding.)

I am all about tree-hugging and dirt-worshiping. I will question our friendship if you tell me you *gasp!* don’t recycle and don’t intend to. If you let me, I might lecture you on bottled water and having five kids.  I throw away maaaaybe three garbage bags of trash a year (again with the not-kidding). I commute on my bike as soon as it’s warm enough (generally above 36 degrees in the spring) and until the snow flies. I eat locally. I compost. I’ve even used composting toilets in the past… and I liked it.

Living eco-friendly is a huge part of my life, but it has yet to make an appearance on this blog. Aside from maybe this post and this one. Oh, and a lil bit here.

I’ve been thinking I need to remedy this, and have had the idea for doing a “go green!” post once a month for quite some time now, I just haven’t gotten around to actually writing them.

Until now.Yippee hippie!

Starting next month (week), the first Tuesday of each month will be known as Tree-Hugger Tuesday! here at Women Are From Mars. I’ll blog about anything I find pertinent to living the green life. They might be tidbits of advice or how-tos, or just musings on relevant environmental topics.

See, a lot of what I write here is in hopes of stimulating sex-positive, open, and inclusive thinking and discussion. To encourage people to go outside the proverbial box. This has typically been in terms of gender, sex, sexuality, feminism, etc, etc, etc.

Another area I’d really like more people to think about is our collective impact on our world. You know, the one we’re leaving our children? And, as with other topics, I’m going to strive to make it personal. Sure, I’ll talk big-picture sometimes, but in general I’ll try to keep it more focused on education and what we can each do on our own.

“Ultimately it is easier to think globally than to at locally, but it is in our backyards that we meet the enemy, who, more often than not… is us.”

~ Phillip W. Conkling
“An International Commons”

Before I get started on them, however, I did want to share some of my general thoughts on living the green life:

For me? It’s less about simply making grand gestures on occasion, or understanding the politics of wind farms, or lecturing others about what they’re doing wrong (btw, when we get on our soap-boxes about the environment? We can all become hypocrites real fucking quick. Just sayin’). It’s more about becoming more aware, more conscious, of the choice we make, the resources we use, the things we eat – every day. It’s about thinking consistently about how our actions affect the world around us, and what our alternatives are. It’s about taking personal responsibility of our true environmental impact on a daily basis.

I know that sounds kinda tiring – but it’s not. I believe it becomes habit. A part of how you live your life.

And, like anything else, the more information you have, the more difficult it is to ignore it. The more you know, the more likely you are to think… and the more difficult it is to not act. It is in those routine actions, however small, that make the difference.

“The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.”

~ Ross Perot (still not kidding)

I also believe living green, or eco-friendly, or environmentally friendly, or sustainably, or lipstick-hippie-in-a-power-suit, is about balance. It’s about understanding that you do as much as you can, and sometimes you make the choice you know is wrong – but at least you are informed enough to recognize it. You make it anyway, because you do enough in other ways already. And you allow yourself this guilty pleasure, because you’re already doing what you can. Maybe you’ll make the better choice next time.

For instance. I used to be vegetarian, and then vegan. My reasons for these choices were based on animal ethics as well as environmental concerns. However, I always knew I’d eat meat again once I could eat locally (I am sure I will discuss this in depth sooner or later – but if you want to know why now, I suggest this article.) I now can acquire almost all of my food from people I actually know, and it was grown or raised on farms within a 100 mile radius. I always said I’d still be vegetarian when I went out to eat.

I have recently utterly failed in that last part (it is a flippin’ slippery slope, if you’re a carnivore like I am). But I’ve decided it’s ok. I do enough in other ways. And there are some things I still won’t eat. Like veal and shrimp and bluefin tuna.

The first post will be next Tuesday, 2 August. I hope you will check back, read up, and let me know what you think.

And I hope I’m able to make you think more, to educate you, and to encourage you, even in small ways, to live life green.

I also want to give a quick shout-out to Daniel Ruyter, of Memoirs of a Single Dad and The Blended Family Blog, for writing on environmental issues regularly as part of his blogging, too. Please check those posts here.

Here’s to converting more lipstick hippies! Ha!

You go into a community and they will vote 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of a tougher Clean Air Act, but if you ask them to devote 20 minutes a year to having their car emissions inspected, they will vote 80 to 20 against it. We are a long way in this country from taking individual responsibility for the environmental problem. 

~ William D. Ruckelshaus, former EPA administrator
New York Times, 30 November 1988

A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger father with a bigger fist.  If an omniscient, all-powerful Dad ignores your prayers, it’s taken personally.  Hear only silence long enough, and you start wondering about his power.  His fairness.  His very existence. 

But if a world mother doesn’t reply, Her excuse is simple.  She never claimed conceited omnipotence.  She has countless others clinging to her apron strings, including myriad species unable to speak for themselves.  To Her elder offspring She says – go raid the fridge.  Go play outside.  Go get a job. 

Or, better yet, lend me a hand.  I have no time for idle whining. 

~ David Brin

22 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2011 3:19 pm

    When living in Sweden I used to be so good at recycling etc… it is so normal there and no-one thinks twice about it. Everyone have several type of waste bins under the sink (thank god for IKEA) and you even get some money back when you return glass and cans to the shop (great as a student!).

    But in Ireland… it is just a LITTLE more challenging. Only just recently have we received a separate bin for plastic etc. It is a joke. At least the local butchers and organic selection has increased a lot in the last years which is great.

    • July 29, 2011 8:53 am

      I hear you. I’ve been pretty spoiled with the areas I’ve lived in the states – there is always ready access to recycling. When I lived in CA, we could even put all recyclables into one big trash bin, and they separated them for us at the recycling center! I would never have believed that actually happened, but for my Environmental Perils class, we visited the dump/recycling center and they told us all about it! I realize this is not something that’s available everywhere…

      However. Really we should be recycling last – reducing our use and reusing when possible first. I always bring reusable bags AND re-used plastic bags to the grocery (for the bins, or fruit/veggies when I actually have to buy something there). Always carry a water bottle/coffee mug – never buy bottled water. Stuff like that!

      • July 29, 2011 9:06 am

        I love re-usable bags… I just constantly forget them at home so I end up with more re-usable canvas bags. Have now resorted to keeping a few in the car on the seat…so there is no way to forget them. Short attention spam…
        Having your own water/coffee mug is so much better anyway – for environment and taste. There is hope for me yet eh? >)

      • August 2, 2011 2:39 pm

        I am the exact same way – I have to keep re-usable bags in my car, one in my house, and a couple in my office.

        There had better be hope for both of us, as I am always forgetting things, leaving things places, breaking them… ! 😀

  2. Movedup permalink
    July 28, 2011 7:16 pm

    I am lucky enough to live in the “Great Northwet” and we have been recycling for years – its like second nature. Not to do so is just well… wrong and looked down on. Throw a plastic bottle in a “garbage” can and you’ll get a dirty look from someone most places. Organic farms are everywhere out here in the rurals and the choices at the grocery stores (even in the cities) lean to the green in everything from paper towels to potatoes. Its perfectly normal to bring your own cloth bag to carry home your groceries that you bag yourself. So… its been a more than a “hippie” lifestyle out in the Great Northwet and has been for many years – its legislated and not just lip service. We are green – visit sometime in the late summer and see how green we really are. Solstice every year brings the nude bike parade in Fremont – which is the Center of the Universe. Lots of fun! Nice area to live in as long as you don’t mind the rain hence the Northwet.

    • July 29, 2011 8:56 am

      I know! You guys are kicking ass back there. It’s really awesome to me when these things become part of the community consciousness, they’re just “what people do”, and they’re part of the legislation.

      Plus, it IS beautiful in the summer! I LOVE Seattle on a sunny day! have friends back there, and they don’t mind the rain – they tell me people who don’t live there talk about it more than they do. I’d actually love to settle there someday…

  3. July 28, 2011 8:16 pm

    I recycle and Kiefer composts! I’m glad we can still be friends.

    • July 29, 2011 8:57 am

      We *totally* can! 😀

      AND more reason for y’all to combine forces – recycling and composting, together! Ha!

  4. July 30, 2011 4:28 am

    This is fabulous Nikki! To Movedup’s point, we have to make living an environmentally unfriendly lifestyle socially unacceptable. It’s like Ivy says: it’s quite hard living in Ireland to convince someone that a herd of kids is bad for the environment. (Get a raincoat for GODs sake!) I can’t wait to read your first one. 🙂

    • August 2, 2011 2:43 pm

      Hey thanks!

      I think part of the problem is making eco-friendly living less of a liberal, yuppie catch-phrase, and something that we *all* recognize as important. Not just for use tree-hugger types, but as informed global citizens. Part of that is education, part is making it personal and easy as possible. From there, hopefully it can spread and you see lifestyles and acceptance change…

      Oh, don’t get me started (yet) on the having kids thing. I will definitely post on it – but it’s SO un-PC! Even though I can’t STAND the people driving a Prius and shopping at Whole Foods and bitching at everyone about being GREEN – and not even batting an eyelash when they tell you number four is on the way! I want to punch them in the face for being 1) so ignorant and 2) so hypocritical!

      Hope you like the first one…

  5. July 30, 2011 1:36 pm

    Such a great post, and really looking forward to Tree-hugger Tuesdays going forward!

    ps – I was just reading an article about water use, and the fact that flushing toilets is the number one use of water in households…composting toilets seems like such a no brainer idea, and yet I’ve never actually seen one.

    • August 2, 2011 2:47 pm

      If it’s yellow let it mellow… gross? Perhaps. But important.

      Composting toilets aren’t really available for mainstream use just yet. I’d say that has less to do with it being possible, and more to do with people saying “ewwwwwwwwwwww composting toilets!” Which is really effing unfortunate.

      In my experience? They weren’t gross and barely smelled. I’ve used fairly progressive ones, as well as pretty basic one-step-up-from-an-outhouse ones. Even those didn’t smell, and although you had to turn the shit (seriously) it was like stirring dirt more than anything else. Get over the poo factor, and it’s no biggie.

      But then again, that would be my hippie side bein’ all hippie.

  6. August 1, 2011 8:11 am

    Honestly, I’d rather hug you. But, yeah, trees are cool, too.


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