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Tree Hugger Tuesday: Happy 2012 ~ Let’s turn over a new leaf!

January 3, 2012

Hello my friends! I’ve missed you! Hope the holidays were jolly and NYE happy!

Now, the following post may not appear to be about something specific (and I do *aim* for specificity, usually…), but sometimes I think it’s good to be reminded that the small steps count. Living sustainably isn’t as daunting as it seems, and yes, you can make small changes that count.

Plus – it’s a New Year, after all. What else would I be talking about?

As an undergraduate in San Diego, I got into a, um, discussion about fur with a roommate (I abhorred it, still do, but she was all into fashion or some excuse thing). She turned my argument on me and said “you can hate fur all you want, but how can you really argue about it when you eat meat?

She had a point.

Sure, I drove my lil Honda Civic everywhere, refused public transportation, and spent little time thinking about my carbon footprint. I bought whatever was cheapest and for some gawd-awful reason thought all that plastic crap at Wal-Mart was pretty much amazeballs. But from 2001, on I was a vegetarian.

In late 2003, a vegan friend of mine said to me “you do realize that, for all the reasons you don’t eat mean, you shouldn’t eat dairy or eggs either.

Starting literally on January 1, 2004, I went vegan. Cold turkey style. (Didn’t hurt that I had a ridic crush on the vegan dude – but that crush didn’t negate his point, either.)

I was strictly vegan until I moved to, well, where I live now. And eating local food became something I could do easily, which also addressed my concerns about how we do meat/dairy/eggs and pretty much all food in this country (yes, one day I’ll blog about it in more depth), as well as my new-found ish with processed foods (will blog about that too, you betcha).

Man. I had missed a nice, seared steak. Seriously. While I was a good vegan, you never saw one that missed practically-raw meat like I did.

By now, I had started to think much more about carbon footprints, and leaving lights on, and dripping faucets. Bringing my own coffee mug/water bottle. Things like this.  I had also started to buy more earth-friendly paper and cleaning products. To think about where my shit comes from, and where it goes.

I had been bringing my compost to an organic farm near my work, and for my birthday in 2009, I received a composter (true story and yes, will blog about that too in the near future) from my parents. My mom helped put it up in my backyard.

But I wasn’t ready to move into other aspects of my life. All those eco-friendly shampoos and conditions are so expensive! And what if my face breaks out if I change my soap/moisturizer? They want HOW MUCH for Avena makeup???

At least, not right away.

For me, as I’ve said before, it was a step-by-step process. First, I made the move to shampoo and conditioner, then lotions, then explored my local Avena salon. Two years ago, while driving to work, I realized the freakin 8-foot shoulder along my commute meant I had no excuse to still be driving and not riding a bike. It had been a good 13 years since I’d been on one regularly, and the last time, in 2005, was one trip to get alcohol (I was working in Hawai’i then, and we weren’t allowed alcohol in the government vehicles) where I pretty much thought I was going to die. Getting back on that bike was pretty hard, not gonna lie. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I did a good job trying.

Taking each of these as a step and not a full-blown life make-over cushioned the financial blow of each, and, perhaps strangely, made it easier to make the next step. Given my experience, therefore, I’d say if you want to live a life more green (and, hello, you totes should), take it step by step.

New Years is a great time to get started. Turn over a new leaf. Make a resolution. Not to “go green” as some vague, giant, life-altering upheaval (we all know how resolutions like that go), but resolve to make one small change this year. One choice to live more sustainably.

You can even do it by category:

  1. Energy consumption: Decide to be more conscientious in turning off lights in rooms you’re no longer in, unplugging appliances you’re not using, shutting down your computer, buying incandescent light bulbs. Drive smarter (this is one I have trouble with – me and my lead foot), check your car tires, etc..  Some simple tips are here and a more serious guide here.

  2. Water consumption: Turn off the water while your brushing your teeth, or during parts of your shower (seriously). Get a re-useable water bottle and stop (stop! for the love!) buying bottled water. Don’t let the tap run while you’re doing dishes, but turn it off while you suds them, and rinse all at once. For additional easy things you can do, read here and here. If you want to check over your home to really reduce overall waste, check ideas here.

  3. Be a better consumer: Pick one thing to buy differently. You could choose to start buying better and more friendly (to the world, your loved ones, and your home!) cleaning products, or make up, or personal products, or paper products.

  4. Buy local: Again, pick one thing to buy differently. Decide to find out about your local farmer’s markets, CSAs, etc. this summer, or buy a percentage of your gifts this year from local artisans. Again, Shift Your Shopping is a great resource to find local organizations, and you can always simply search “farmers markets [my area]” [community-supported agriculture [my area]”.

  5. You are what you eat: One of the critical ways we can all make an impact is in what we eat. The way food is done in this country is wasteful, beyond animal-unfriendly, has a HUGE carbon footprint, etc etc etc. If you cannot even fathom the thought of giving up meat, just eat one less meal a week of it. Avoid processed foods, buy some organic food, go to Whole Paycheck  Foods for meat on occasion (as they do have a great set-up for making choices when buying meat). Think about the seafood you consume (hey veggies, if you eat fish, you ain’t a veggie, and our oceans are in some serious trouble). Or, you know, start eating local.

  6. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Buy reusable bags or travel coffee mugs or water bottles (or be like me and even carry around your own silverwear), recycle more, reuse what you can, don’t buy things you don’t need.

  7. Take the bus: Commit to taking public transportation, if available to you. Maybe it’s tough to always take it, but on occasion, once a week…Or learn to ride a bike!

There’s a few options. Pick one for a New Year’s resolution this year. Or, you know, add one of your own and let me know what you’ll do that I haven’t included.

And, yeah, I still have work to do, so don’t think I’m off the hook. This year I am finally buying a diva cup – and yes I will blog about it and how well it works. And no, I don’t expect y’all to be grossed out. Haven’t we grown beyond that? (… I will, however, welcome crass humor, as always)…

Happy New Year!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2012 12:49 pm

    Every time I read a Tree Hugger Tuesday post, I remember the post about how many bags of trash you have. You’re a-maz-ing.

    I don’t know what a diva cup is. I’m afraid. Is it safe to click on at work?

    • January 3, 2012 2:43 pm

      Um, well, it is safe to click at work, but if people see it – they might think you’re weird (unfortunately). But they probably also won’t know what it is (also unfortunately). A guy once overheard a friend and I discussing it, and he said he wanted to be nominated for it.

      A diva cup is basically a tampon cup you rinse and reuse. Yes, ’tis true (hey, I make my own deodorant. Whaddaya want).

  2. January 3, 2012 3:50 pm

    I have often wondered about the Diva cup…but I’m not sure I could deal with all that blood. Because my aunt flow is intense. Like, ocean style.

    If I dropped it it would like I bludgeoned someone in my bathroom.

    • January 3, 2012 10:15 pm

      Sounds like your Auntie and my Auntie could be sistahs.

      This is part of why I need to try this out and see how it goes… although, you can take it out whenev and clean it, you don’t have to wait seven hours.

  3. January 3, 2012 4:31 pm

    One little change at a time that sticks works better than all in one go which mostly fizzles out to nothing in the end.

    Have to say though, a part of me is exceedingly thrilled about the fact that there is no viable public transport for me to take to work. Yes it would cheaper, better for the environment and I could have snooze in the morning – all fantastic reasons (which I have lived by when my job was at the other side of town)…. BUT… I just love driving my car… and yes I feel guilty about …a bit.

    Sigh, I will just have to work more on the other parts.

    • January 3, 2012 10:17 pm

      Ahhhh I love driving too! I do have to say, I’ve learned to love my bike, as well. Even at 5:30am… ok maybe less so at 5:30am.

      Regardless – this is mah point. If you have some things you can’t give up, work on something else. None of us are perfect, but we can usually find something that is an easy switch for us.

      Missed you!

  4. January 3, 2012 11:57 pm

    I wish more people thought about their choices as much as you do. I’m green … with envy.

    • January 4, 2012 11:47 am

      Yes… I wish people did too. But, here’s to hoping! 😀

  5. Project44 permalink
    January 4, 2012 9:45 am

    Thought provoking !
    Happy new year !

  6. January 6, 2012 4:13 pm

    I’ve resolved to make an attempt to try to switch to the Diva cup this year. I don’t know how well that will go for me but I have been wanting to try it.

    I REALLY should conserve more water. I take epic at minimum hour long showers. I always feel so guilty for them too. It is my absolute favorite 1st world luxury. You’ve encouraged me to try to cut the length of them down some. ::cries::

    • January 6, 2012 9:51 pm

      I’ve heard really good things about the Diva cup – aside from some messiness, but I suppose it’s to be expected. I’ve heard a key is to bring a water bottle so you can rinse it in the bathroom stall when using a public bathroom…


      As for your epic showers: I also believe we’re allowed to make choices and we don’t have to do *everything*. For instance – I love driving. Fast. It is NOT a particularly good way to conserve fuel. But… I love it… AND I travel by plane a lot. Also bad. SO I think there are things we can all do that are less painful, instead of focusing on the ones that are so hard to change. It’s kind of like *offsetting* your vices. 😀

  7. January 7, 2012 9:23 am

    I wouldn’t say I’m the least eco friendly people but I’m not great. I have been making small changes here and there. I think twice about buying new clothes. I went through a huge closet clean out and got rid of 2/3 of my wardrobe. So much waste. It’s realizing how little you really need and then embracing that notion is what is so freeing. I do like a good steak but now that a Whole Foods just opened up nearby we shop there almost exclusively.

  8. January 9, 2012 3:33 am

    This is a great list! We should all be more conscious of the things we do that impact the carbon footprint. It seems an impossible feat when it’s just one of us, but when millions of people do it collectively, it will have a huge effect.

    My family and I have completely changed our lifestyle the past couple of years. My husband bicycles to work and I work at home, so we spend literally almost zero money in gas.

    We’ve cut back on a lot of things and here and there I look for other ways to live simpler- that’s what I’m doing in 2012. 🙂


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