Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Budding TreeHugger

For a few weeks now, I have been neglecting my passion for writing in favor of my passion for reading. I start each day with my book (and a bowl of cereal) and end the day reading in bed until I convince myself that I should turn the light out. The last three books have been a combination of simple living and living green themes (they all really go together):

I started with a book called Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle by David Wann. This book is awesome! It truly inspires you to think about what you really need. I learned all about co-housing (did you know it started in Denmark?) and the beauty of having your own organic garden.

This led to the second book, Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth by Jim Merkel. This author lives on $5,000 per year and has a homestead in Vermont where he grows a lot of his own food and stores it in a food cellar (I want a food cellar!). He shares interesting experiences with people around the world who have sustainable living figured out and are happy with what they have. Merkel also provides tools which allow you to calculate your carbon footprint, etc (yikes!).

All this made me want to learn more about how I might contribute less to the destruction of our planet, so I dove into Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living by the folks at This book breaks it down by areas of improvement (e.g. Eating, Cleaning, Traveling, etc). It is a nice, practical guide which gives you a weekly "Save the Planet in Thirty Minutes or Less" list and a more ambitious "So You Want to Do More" challenge.

The first week is called "Thinking Like a TreeHugger: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." It's so straight-forward really... Don't buy as much (this also a cornerstone of simple living), keep using what you have (mend clothes, fix your bike, etc), and when something just doesn't make sense to keep anymore, give it to someone who wants it or make sure it gets converted into something else.

So far, here is what I've done on the Thirty Minute list:
- Purchased Kleen Kanteen stainless steel water bottles so I can stop using the disposable plastic kind.
- Recycling as much as I can (I still need to check out to figure out what to do with hazardous waste, etc).
- I'm trying to buy as little prepackaged food as possible, since this creates more waste (and is generally better for you).

I'm also working on going paperless as it relates to bills and such. Unfortunately, not all companies offer this option yet, but many do. I don't understand why they wouldn't, because email is definitely cheaper than sending out a snail mail bill, but anyway...

It's amazing how easy it is to make a big difference in consumption. And it feels good! The only remaining consumption addiction I have is buying books... I am an Amazon junkie. To round off my first week as a true TreeHugger, I should probably go check out the library across the street. Perhaps they have Your Money or Your Life, which is the next book on my list.

Next Week is "Eating Your Way Green: Food and Drink." Stay tuned!

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