Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous, fun, safe, and, of course, green new year!!! The Green, The Bad, and The Ugly will be back on January 5th with my Green Resolutions!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Green Christmas

Christmas was my mom’s favorite time of year. And boy, did she go all out! Every part of our house was decorated, from the illuminated deer on the front lawn to the animated Mickey and Minnie Mouse under the tree.

Our presents were wrapped in a multitude of papers that she would buy from my niece and nephew’s school fundraiser every year. And every Christmas morning, the paper was torn off and thrown away.

The artificial tree was draped in hundreds of mini-lights, not LED’s, plugged in 24 hours a day for the entire month of December and probably even some of November!

Our turkey was not free-range, the vegetables not local or organic and we’d drive aimlessly to other neighborhoods looking in awe at their non-LED illumination.

So, our holidays weren’t exactly what you’d call eco-friendly. Back then, green was nothing more than her favorite color.

But going green isn’t just about changing your light bulbs, it’s also about making things better for those around us…being a humanitarian…and for that, my mom was very green!

Our church had a giving tree. A tree that was covered with tags listing things that underprivileged children wanted for Christmas. She would always take a bunch of tags and fill the wants of those special kids.

She would cook for those in need with my niece, who was then only a little girl, teaching her the importance of giving to others.

She took care of her grandchildren when my sister had to work, offered a lending hand when a friend or neighbor needed help, advocated for animals (all of our dogs were rescued) and was active in her church.

Both she and my dad set great examples for me and my sister.

I suspect that if mom were around today, she would absolutely be on board with the green movement. She was always incredibly supportive and open-minded.  She would have had a ball finding new ways to decorate eco-style! I know she would have continued, and probably found even more ways of helping others.

While the holidays leave an open space where she once was, I’m still inspired by her Christmas spirit of giving, which will live on forever.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Peace On Earth, Green Will Towards Men

It’s hard to believe we’re in the holiday season again. A time of traditions. Ice skating in Rockefeller Center, the windows in Macy’s, buying a Christmas tree off the sidewalk in front of Duane Reade, and my company’s holiday door decorating contest.

Last year was my first time spearheading my office’s effort to create the prize-winning door. We had never entered before and I wasn’t sure if we were all going to come together on this. The idea had to be more than the “stockings hanging on the fireplace” theme which so many had done before us. But the idea came to me like bees to honey.

“We’re Dreaming of a Green Christmas.”

I was thrilled when we got the whole office to participate. We made a cut-out Christmas tree from old annual reports that were ready for the trash.  Each of my office mates had to make an ornament which incorporated an eco tip they received from me.

Everyone’s creativity was flowing. Our tips were a success! Who wouldn’t want to know that all of that wrapping paper they would tear open on Christmas morning would kill so many trees? Or that if they drank locally made egg nog, they would keep the weight of 237 dairy cows in CO2 out of the air? What about giving “experience gifts” like a massage or a concert ticket that your recipient will remember fondly? And don’t forget to use LED lights on your tree!

The other doors were green with envy! Random people would stand in front of our door reading our tips. We were proud of what we had accomplished and it had gone beyond any of our imaginations. We had come together to spread our green message and holiday cheer.

As we approached judgment day, we were on pins and needles. All of our hard work paid off and we won the coveted pizza party! (Unfortunately the pizza wasn’t organic and, of course, came in cardboard boxes…but that’s another story.)

But something magical happened after our win.

The office began recycling. My co-workers gave coffee mugs as gifts so that we’d stop using paper cups. We started using recycled copy paper. Our weekly delivery of water bottles was stopped and we relied solely on our water cooler.

Our little giving tree spoke loudly.

This week, we have begun the preparations for this year’s contest. Our theme is Peace on Earth, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the peace sign. If we’re half as successful spreading peace as we were promoting our green message, then we can definitely inspire a lot of goodwill toward men (and women)… maybe even 237 dairy cows’ worth.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kindle Me Green

Last week, my husband told me that he'd like the Kindle for Christmas. He'd seen it on Oprah and was sold. I have to admit, I wasn't entirely sure what the Kindle was, what it did or why he was watching Oprah.

I did some research. Why I didn't already know about this electronic reading device baffled me. It's an answer to my green prayers! To be able to read my favorite books without needing a physical copy. Imagine…no more back room piled to the ceiling with books (you think I'm joking). No more paper, all those trees saved! And light enough to carry everywhere.

Now I wanted one and was determined not to buy any more books. Of course, there's always the "but."

Jessica Lange was at Barnes and Noble last week discussing and signing her new book, 50 Photographs. I absolutely adore her and wanted her book. I mean, what do you do when you absolutely have to have the physical copy? And the thing is, I love new books. The feel of the cover, the texture of the pages, the smell. Hers was no exception.

This was a coffee table book. A huge one. "Meant to be displayed," I told myself. Could I go back on my new pledge...just this once? After all, I didn't have the Kindle yet. Of course, I don't have a coffee table, either.

Hoping to make peace with myself, I carried my oversized book to the cashier. He greeted me with a nonjudgmental hello and proceeded to ring up my purchase.

Then he asked me if I was a Barnes and Noble member. "No," I replied.

"It's only $25 to join and you'll save 20% on this book!" he exclaimed.

Now, why should I pay for discounts? Does this make any sense? I tried using logic.

"I'm a Borders member," I said, "and they don't charge." I realized I had gone too far.

"Borders discounts aren't as good!"

"Stop Meredith! Stop right there," I shouted to myself. But did I listen? Nooooo….

"Borders has way better discounts!" This guy was getting more than a little heated. We began to argue in an unpleasant "No they don't!/Yes, they do!" exchange.

"Well, you can't apply for a job in person at Borders. You have to apply online."

So Borders has a green application process, nice! "They're saving paper," I said.

"That's just so they can ignore your application," he said. "And they didn't hire me!"

I was about to say, "I wonder why..."

Then, with a snippy tone and a thrust of his wrist, he pushed the book at me, turned to his co-workers and rolled his eyes. Was the universe telling me I shouldn't be buying any more books? Or just that I shouldn't be buying any from him?

Completely frazzled, I went upstairs to see Jessica. My evening got better as soon as I sat down to look at my new book full of her black and white photographs taken all over the world. I left feeling inspired.

I realized that the Kindle won't capture the magic of large photographs or autographs, but it will keep my reading free from unwanted paper, and also free from unwanted encounters with psychotic check-out clerks. At least until Jessica Lange publishes her next book.

If only I had only had the Kindle six months ago when I was buying the Twilight books for myself, friends and family members . . . I could have saved more trees than 94,000 Borders applications.