Sunday, February 20, 2011

I Try To Be Green, I Really Do

I've finished Gretchen Rubins' book, The Happiness Project, one of the first self-help, reality style books I've been able to make it through.  Actually I lie.  I did not finish the book.  I still have two more chapters to finish.  It wasn't that I couldn't have read it faster, but I read it slowly, trying to digest each concept and hopefully apply it to my life, so it would stick.

I took it out of the library in December and have renewed it twice.  I cannot take it out in my name again until somebody else has booked it out for a while.  And unfortunately I shot myself in the foot.  A friend was at the library, while I was there and asked if I had any recommendations for a good read. Yep you know right well, what yours truly said and did.

So I took out another book of somewhat the same ilk.  Sleeping Naked Is Green, by Vanessa Farquharson is her year long journey in attempting to live greener and leave a smaller carbon footprint in life.

Now I am only one chapter into the book, so I am by no means an expert.  She makes lists of one new green thing to try each day of the year.  Apparently it was tough coming up with 31 for the first month, and then I gather she asked friends, family and cyber-acquaintances to make suggestions, from that point onward.  At first I was afraid she was going to go into great detail on the success or failure of each day.  Fortunately by day five, she has already skipped the previous day - the suggestion must have been a dismal failure.  The thing I like about her writing is that she is not shy to say if a green idea is crap for her.  She is also very quick to point out how the global marketing world has adopted this phoney green marketing scheme, that the everyone seems to be buying into.  It if says green, it must be better for Mother Earth.

Ms. Farquharson has got me thinking.  How green am I?  You know I think I have lead a relatively green life up until the last couple of years.  Then we bought the house with the pool and hottub.  I am a baaad person!  However, I am also a haaappy person to have two luxuries that I quickly become accustomed to in life.  After all we haven't taken a vacation since ( I like to think the dollars saved on a vacation balance the dollars spent on our two water features).  I also doubt we have used more fossil fuels in the heating and circulating than we would have burned in our van to travel.  But I am really just trying to rationalize my greedy, egocentric consumerism.

Growing up on the farm, we were excessively green, not necessarily by choice, but by necessity.  We had a car and a tractor.  Both were necessities.  Dad was the only driver though, and other then work, a trip to town for groceries, and church, that was about all use the car saw.

We grew all our own produce, which Mom canned, or froze.  Okay we had two old inefficient freezers, but still probably not as harmful environmentally as presently buying all fresh and processed food.

We heated with wood (yes I know the wood had to be cut with a chainsaw, and carted home with the tractor).  And yes we froze in the winter nights, when the cookstove died out after midnight.

We did not have running hot water in the house, until we got the bathroom installed.  Any hot water was always heated in a kettle on the cookstove, or boiled in the electric kettle we got later on.  Saturday night baths were from water heated on the stove as well.

To be honest I can't think of many other instances were we used power or fossil fuels to any great extent.  I think we had a minimal impact on the environment.

I do recall a nasty practice that our family had.  We had our own dump site on the farm (as did nearly everyone else of that era).  As I recall the principle components were tin cans, glass bottles, scrap metal and worn out toys.  There was virtually no plastic.

In my late teens, my brother and I decided to clean this dump up.  It took us about three or four half ton truck loads to the local dump.  Think of it in today's terms.  This was probably 60 or 70 years worth of accumulated refuse.  Imagine if we allowed our weekly refuse to build in a pile for the same amount of years, do you think we could haul it away in three half ton loads - maybe three tractor trailer loads maybe.

Not ours, but a similar example.

I note when I go back home too, that the old dump site is completely overgrown with very healthy looking weeds and vines.  Obviously nothing very horrible leached into the soil in the half century or better.  If we left our junk on the lawn for a year or two now, how many noxious little chemicals would escape into the soil?

So I've wandered off my topic -- hey as a blogger I can do what I like right!  Back to how green am I. Let's examine the positives first.

I recycle.  I am the self-proclaimed King of Recycle.  I was recycling long before recycling was cool.  Okay, I'm getting country on you, I know.  However, I do recycle all our plastic, tin, aluminum, paper and glass.  I make my twice a month pilgrimage to the recycle depot, make sure everything goes in the proper containers and get back in my truck, suffused with the self-righteous glow of having done my part, for King and country and the environment.

Every trip in the vehicles counts.  If it is a trip in to town, we wait until there are at least three or four errands to run.

Everything I build, I try to use the maximum recycle materials I can.  My garden shed for instance was all old lumber I had accumulated and picked up at the dump (when you could do that -- why on earth did they stop people from salvaging good materials?).  My vegetable wagon that we sold produce off for several years on the farm was an ancient manure spreader frame, used pressure treated lumber scavenged from work, the roof, shingles cut from scrap plywood pillaged at the dump.  I prided myself in saying that I had only bought four new U-bolts to tie the whole thing together.

My flower beds at the new house have cost me very little to construct.  I have used cedar rails from the back of the property in a lot of cases.  I have dragged in rocks from the hydro line and beyond.  I recycled the red mulch from a landscaping project into my own walkways.  I bought all the used lumber off Kijiji for my new iris beds.

Maybe we'll leave the negatives for another day.  I have a feeling I may be forced to get a bit too long-winded to continue today.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

1 comment:

  1. Two things (and you know I am Green, not only in name but trying to be in food and footprint): I'm not sure moving one dump site to another was an improvement in total trash :-) and recycling centers are big polluters.

    So the overall goal for all of us is to use less stuff. I was just thinking today: why in the world is it necessary to put each toilet paper roll in its own plastic when I am buying the mega bulk package from Costco? Argh. Plastic is one thing I really am trying to avoid, but I'm having a hard time giving up Ziploc bags.


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