Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Green By Example

Happy Earth Day!

This past Saturday, I attended an Earth Week event, the Go Green Expo.  It married my two favorite activities: saving the environment and shopping.

The booths ranged from fake lawns to healthy cookware, biodegradable trash bags to recycled sailcloth shower curtains and handbags (of which I bought one of each). I know the motto is to reduce, so I thought carefully about each purchase I made. (OK, so I don’t need another bag but sometimes I can’t help myself!)

This event also had speakers throughout the day. We attended a talk by Mariel Hemingway, who has written a new book,
Healthy Living From the Inside Out. And after the talk, I had a new green hero.

First of all, she is completely gorgeous and you can tell that she really takes care of herself. I’ve seen her on some "green" shows so I was familiar with her philosophies.

She talked about eating as a privilege and thinking about what you’re putting in your body as well as the products you put ON your body.  She spoke about how to be still with yourself, yoga and being respectful of the planet and ourselves.

But the one point that stuck with me was when she talked about people wanting to know how to convince others to live healthier. She said that you have to lead by example. You can’t force feed anyone this information…they won’t take it.

I thought about that...and my blog, accosting my co-workers about paper cups, huffing at the person in front of me when they take the plastic bag, and telling my husband not to eat fish. Maybe I wasn't leading, but preaching.

Then last night, I was at my play reading group. Every week the group leader brings bottled water and it drives me insane. This week, she happened to mention how horrible it is to buy plastic bottles, but that convenience wins. This sparked a discussion.

Someone said that the plastic is supposedly bad for the water. Another yelled out that her water sometimes tasted funny after a long time in the bottle. Another whined about how the security at the airport took her plastic Poland Spring bottle that she’d been using for two weeks and how pissed she was. (Believe me girl, he did you a favor!)

And then the one girl yelled, “Who cares about the bottles in the trash?  It's easier!” I wanted to leap across the table and smack her. But then Mariel popped into my head and I calmly reached into my bag, pulled out my Sigg and took a sip.

Someone said, “I need to get one of those!” Another complained that she loses everything. My response was, “If you spend the money on it, then maybe you won’t lose it. And it’s better for your health.” That was all I said. Hopefully I led by example and maybe inspired one person to switch her water bottle.

This Earth Day, I commit to doing the following:

I will not take any cabs…only walk or take public transportation.
I will make sure that the lights are out in any room I’m not in.
I will choose things that have little or no packaging.
I will take a shorter shower.
I will lead by example!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's Raining Plastic

It feels so good to be settled into my new digs. And now that I’m unpacked, I get to do the fun stuff...decorate!

Saturday afternoon I decided to head over to Crate and Barrel to check out their TV stands. One of the things I like most about Crate and Barrel is their use of sustainable materials. It was raining pretty hard, so I was excited to get into the store – not only to see what they had but also to dry off.

I was greeted by a rather severe woman who thrust a plastic umbrella bag at me. If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that wasn’t the smartest thing to do. But I remained polite.

“No, thank you,” I said and walked inside.

She chased after me. “You must take one!” I must? She obviously didn’t know me. “I’m sorry, I don’t use . . . plastic bags.” The words slithered off me like the rain off my coat.

She followed me. “Miss! MISS!” I kept walking, pretending not to hear. “You MUST take one!” she said again, but much firmer. I repeated that I did not use plastic bags, again, much firmer. She stopped following me.

But I was miffed. Why didn’t they have an umbrella stand? Or even just rugs! Plastic umbrella bags are almost as big of a waste as those little plastic plugs that Starbucks uses to keep your coffee from spilling.

I was in a rare condition for me – too pissed to shop. I left and headed off to Bed, Bath and Beyond. They, too, offered me a plastic umbrella bag which I, again, refused. They didn’t follow me around the store. But I felt like I had committed a crime. Everywhere I turned there was an angry employee, glaring at me and my wet umbrella.

I thought about this all weekend. The number of plastic bags that are used for what, 20 minutes? Wasted. Ending up in landfills or that floating plastic island in the Pacific.

The next night I was flicking channels, thinking about my wet umbrella, when Andy Rooney came on.

His rant was about the ice bridge that was holding up an iceberg the size of Connecticut and was about to break off. He said it’s got to go somewhere, and asked if any of us want something the size of Connecticut to hit us.

He said that while some who call themselves conservationists are, well, conserving and finding new resources, others are doing nothing, sure that things will just “work out.”

But it was his closing line that got me. “I’m a conservationist who uses a lot of trees and oil. I’m the problem.” (60 Minutes clock ticking sound.)

It got me because just that afternoon I had gone to the corner store without one of my bags, and took a plastic one (which I hated). Despite being high and mighty about my plastic bag non-usage, I was also the problem.

So I am now that much more aware and more committed than ever to searching for new ways to solve the problem . . . that I’ve become. (Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick)