Saturday, March 1, 2008

The End of a Project

Vanessa has been writing and changing her life for a year, making one small change every day to reduce the amount of energy, water and waste that she generates. I've enjoyed reading about her changes over the last few months, though I must admit sometimes I'm disappointed that she doesn't circle back and comment on the impact the changes have had or what the cascade effects were. For instance, what food purchasing changes did she make to support turning off the fridge? What does she cook? does she never have left-overs?

She has now completed her one year project and summarizes (rambles?) what she learned into three main points:
1) In order to be truly green, we need to maintain a constant awareness of everything we do, use, eat and throw away, everywhere we go and how we get there, what we buy, why we buy it and what happens when we don’t need it anymore. As many environmentalists have said, waste is man-made, and I’ve learned that it is actually possible to live without plastic, a car or even a fridge, and still be quite happy (correction: happier). So be aware, people — constantly aware — of all your decisions.

2) Ironically, the greenest way to live is in the gray area. We can’t possibly take this movement to the next level when we’re still bickering about whether so-and-so is an environmentalist or not. Who cares? It doesn’t matter whether you’re a card-carrying hippie or a part-time vegetarian or an employee at a right-wing, global-warming-denying newspaper — choose your green vices and your green virtues. Maybe you can’t stand wasting water: So, install aerating faucets everywhere, take Navy Showers and get a rain barrel; but don’t beat yourself up over that Starbucks latte or a few sweaters you got on sale at H&M. There’s no point in trying to be so absolute about whether or not you’re officially green; just determine your own value system, try to make your choices accordingly and allow yourself occasional slip-ups because, well, pobody’s nerfect.

3) Lastly, and again, this really is nothing new, but seriously people: Stop buying crap. You don’t need it. In fact, you don’t even want it — you think you do, you want to be like that pretty girl in the commercial who has it, but it’s crap, it’s all crap, and you’re better off without it. I’m not a Luddite, I’m not an anarchist and I don’t support Buy Nothing Day because I’m all for creating a steady, strong economy, but if we don’t start turning the consumerism down a notch we are majorly screwed. There is absolutely no reason why anyone would ever need disposable Tupperware, a Swiffer anything, Glade PlugIns or yogurt in individually packaged tubes.
I'm sorry to see her stop posting daily for both the practical ideas and the humor she included when discussing changes such as staying warm overnight when the thermostate is turned low. I look forward to reading which of the 366 changes she made have become habits or committed to continuing.