Happy day, Earth!

Let me start off with a photo of a little something I like to call me, sans glasses, with new haircut:

Max cropped it (the hair and the photo) and the flash made it look really shiny! I’m still not a huge fan of the way I look in this, or any picture, I think the hair looks better in real life, even today when I showered and did it myself.

But what I’m really wanting to talk about today is Earth Day. There is one blogger out there who celebrates Earth Day everyday, and that’s Allie. I know a lot of you read her already, because I see you over in the comments, but if you haven’t been there yet, I highly recommend. This is her busy season, and she’s compiled some excellent links and suggestions for how to live a greener life, and it goes beyond “change your light bulbs and buy a Prius.” Her blog is totally non-judgemental, which is why I feel comfortable telling her that as far as being green, for me the buck stops at re-usable feminine hygiene products.

So what do I like to do to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible? I do little things: I’ve got the florescent bulbs, I unplug all my appliances when I’m done with them, I keep full bottles of water in my otherwise empty fridge so it doesn’t loose all the coolness when I open the door, my car gets 30 MPH MPG, (thank you, Tucker), and I try to bundle my errands, I don’t pollute the air by using harsh cleaning products in my home (if I did ever clean the place I would technically use vinegar and baking soda, but I don’t really do that, either…), I don’t eat meat, I just got a bike, and if I didn’t live at the top of a winding 50 MPH street, I would take that bike places, when I use the fax machine at work, I always put a piece of scrap paper in so the fax confirmation doesn’t ruin a virgin sheet of paper, and I use scrap paper in my printer, I use my own bags at the grocery store, and I started a compost pile in a bucket, with all good intentions of starting an actual compost pile someday.

But after doing all that, there’s still people in the world who drive SUV’s and leave the lights on all night and don’t fix their leaky sinks and own factories in China, and it makes all my little things seem worthless. I was pissed that Al Gore got people so excited about the cause but then didn’t ask them to do anything more than dial down their usage by a notch, and I agree with PETA that he needs to start talking about the serious environmental benefits of vegetarian diets. In fact, I’m not going to waste any more words on the subject, because Michael Pollan stated this point much more eloquently in the New York Times this week.

His conclusion was that we should all plant our own gardens. I’m going to try it because I’ve got so much space to do that, and Michelle at Howling Hill is even sending me some seeds to get me started, but I am seriously laking in time.

His other conclusion is that as being green becomes mainstream and as we all start to see the benefits, living simpler lives will become fashionable, and environmentalism will get some good word-of-mouth. That’s why I’m bringing this up now. I thought I’d start today by asking what, if anything you all do to “be green,” and do you have days like I do when you say to yourself, “we are so far into this shit that I’m not going to worry about using the whole oven to cook this one potato tonight!”? I’m curious, what’s your take?

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42 responses to this post.

  1. Luckily, a lot of living in Manhattan makes my lifestyle greener than it might otherwise be. (Apartment living, no car, etc…)

    I am HOPING that when I live somewhere less urban, the forced simplicity of NYC life-on-a-budget will help me adjust.

    My latest quest is to stop drinking bottled water. We have a filter at work, which I use to fill my SIGG, but I generally buy bottles on the weekend rather than worry about whether my roommates refilled the Brita.

    I also bring my own bags to the grocery store, which, like Pollan predicts is totally trendy these days!

    Also, your hair looks awesome!

    I noticed that in New York, especially Whole Foods, everyone had their own bag. If you didn’t, you’re ostraciszed.

  2. The fact that even big, evil Wal-Mart is plugging “green” products and “green” living gives me hope that people everywhere (and not just in tiny pockets in liberal-friendly spots) will finally start to get it and do something different. That said, although I’m doing a lot of little things myself (the bulbs, the bags, etc.), I could stand to do a lot more. Thanks for the reminder.

    It does help when being green and saving money sail together.

  3. I do much of what you do too, and I certainly have those days when I think, gosh darn it, it’s so much easier to just throw this plastic bottle away rather than load up the car and drive the 15 minutes to the recycling station.

    That’s why it’s so good to be constantly reminded of how why recycling, and reusing, and walking or biking when you don’t have to drive, and turning things off and unplugging when you don’t need them and etc., etc., etc. are so very important for us and our planet.

    My 2+ cents.

    Yeah, except at what point do you spend more energy hauling things to the recycling place? This thing is not easy.

  4. Well, since I drive a sin-like SUV I guess sometimes I feel that I must do more to overcompensate. No, not really. I do drive an SUV and god dang it I love it. In fact I’ve been driving a Chevy 2500 for the past few days.

    All kidding aside, I’m pretty sure that my mother was a hippie in another life and I grew up in a very eco friendly home. We have always recylced, composted, gardened and partook in hobbies which only used our own personal energy, hiking, horseback riding, row boating, etc.

    Someday we’ll get you into a sporty fuel-efficient car, and you’ll never look back.

  5. We use florescent bulbs – even in our outside flood light -, we always turn off lights when we’re not in a room (our son reminds hubby if he forgets), turn off the water while we are brushing teeth, we already planted some pumpkin and cantelope and have 8 more packs of seeds ready to plant. We toss apple cores and the like outside and our squirrels take them away (to the recycling center, I’m sure). We buy a case of bottled water once a year, I have to admit, but we reuse the bottles all year long. I use the back of papers that are junk mail for scrap paper. At work we don’t have fax confirmations, but we have a pile of paper that is used on one side to be used as scrap. Just last week my boss and I came up with a more efficient way to do a function of our work that will probably save 20 sheets of paper a week.

    It’s not a lot, but it’s not bad for a conservative, right? πŸ˜‰

    It sounds pretty darn conservative to me, in that you are doing a great job at conserving! (If you look further in the comments, FDL has an interesting take on the bottled water thing that you might be interested in.)

  6. I have a page on my blog dedicated to the green changes we’ve made in the last couple years.

    Planting the tomatoes will take you a few minutes. Maintaining the plant will only take a few minutes per day. The one component that will take you some time is finding a container and soil to put the seeds in. I recommend a ceramic clay pot with organic soil. The former can be purchased just about anywhere, the latter may take you a little bit of time to find. Start now.

    I sent you an email, btw.

    Tilling the soil and getting the beds ready is going to be the most time-consuming thing, I think. I just hope to get it done before May.

  7. Posted by Kate on April 22, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Happy Earth Day! Pretty new hair-do too!

    I’m not green. I recycle and turn things off when I’m not there, but that’s about it. I feel guilty, but I don’t see do do more…

    The best way to deal with your guilt is to stop doing things that make you feel guilty…

  8. Oh, and P.S. LOVE THE HAIR!

    Thank you!

  9. What Modern Gal said – I forgot to mention the hair! Very cute! πŸ™‚

    Much obliged.

  10. Posted by Jennifer M. on April 22, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Love the hair. I wish I had the skill (or maybe just an extra set of hands) to achieve a salon blow out on a daily basis.

    Ooh tricky topic. On the one hand, I don’t have a problem doing some things to help make the world a better place. My non-hybrid Honda gets at least 30 mpg and just this weekend I unclogged the bathroom drain with baking soda, vinegar and boiling water. I’ll replace existing lightbulbs with CFLs as the incandescents burn out even though I think that the CFLs give off ugly ugly light. I don’t eat that much meat, but that’s more because I’m cheap.

    On the other hand, I feel like the ability to make some of these changes are a luxury when I compare my lifestyle with people I have met in developing countries who are unable to feed and cloth their families amid crippling poverty, civil strife and international conflict. They eat a starchy, nutrient-poor vegetarian diet because that’s what the international food donations provide.

    Philosophically, I believe that a simpler life can ultimately make individuals happier by reducing stress. But also philosophically, if every single species on the planet became extinct, I wouldn’t be sad (well, technically I couldn’t be because I would be dead . . .). So I guess my question is what is the end goal of environmentalism? If it is to make the planet more inhabitable for all species be they animal, vegetable or mineral, okay. If it is to freeze the planet at a particular moment in time forever in terms of what specific resources exist, that doesn’t make sense to me. Species come and go, be they plants, butterflies or homo sapiens.

    So, that’s me, the not-very-green liberal.

    I think you do sound quite liberal, in a realistic sense. You’ve touched on something: that more stuff makes us more stressed, and it can’t be sustained. There may be larger forces that we can’t control, and we certainly can’t go back in time, but we can start thinking about the world at large and how every small thing we do can mean a big thing somewhere else.

  11. Posted by Tucker on April 22, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Your car gets 30 MPH. Wow. Get that thing fixed! So you’re the slow poke I get stuck behind all the time.

    Sorry, I couldn’t help making fun of a typo.

    Oh, you cad.

  12. Cute haircut!! Happy Earth Day and keep up with decreasing your carbon footprint!!!

    Thanks! You too!

  13. You and your hair are beautiful! I really like the cut and the color.

    Thanks! Max is so great with color.

  14. Thanks so much for mentioning me! I love your input and willingness to comment openly on Allie’s Answers.

    The hair looks great! Impressive shine! I think you look great in pictures — of course, I’ve never seen you in person. I am so un-photogenic, it’s ridiculous, and every year my mother-in-law sends out a Christmas letter with our pictures in it. This past year’s was so bad that it seriously looked like I’d just vomited right before they took the picture. I should try to find the pic and put it up sometime. It may be the worst picture of anyone ever taken.

    I think you do such a great job with your website, and you deserved some link love.

  15. Hey, great hair!

    And way to be green! I’m trying to do more this year than just recycling and congratulating myself on owning a car with good gas mileage and calling it a day. Although I have to agree with a previous commenter that those CFL lights are way harsh. Especially in the bathroom.

    Maybe it’s the way my bathroom is painted or something, but I don’t mind the CFL’s. They seem to be improving all the time, although I won’t know until this one burns out in 7 years.

  16. Posted by lizgwiz on April 22, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Great hair!

    I do more “green” things than most people I know, but still not nearly enough. I turn things off, but I don’t usually unplug. (Most of my outlets are in hard-to-reach places. Lame excuse, I know, but…did I mention my sciatica?) I hang my laundry on the line to dry whenever possible, use CF bulbs, drive a crappy 30mpg car, recycle, don’t eat meat, bundle my errands, don’t water my lawn, almost never use the oven. I wish I could walk more instead of driving, but this city just isn’t laid out for that. (I do exercise at home, rather than driving somewhere to do it–does that help?)

    I have been toying with the idea of a small vegetable garden–maybe I’ll get on that.

    Yeah, I can’t get anywhere on foot in this damn town. I plug all my stuff into a surge protector, and unplug it that way. Because I’m lazy, I usually turn off the surge with my foot instead of bending over. Would that help you?

  17. Posted by Sarah on April 22, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Yes, I admittedly take the “to hell with it” approach sometimes. Especially when it comes to horrifying concepts like The Keeper.

    Yeah, The Keeper is not something I’ll be using any time in this life time.

  18. I have little to bring to the table here other than “great hair, Christmas Tree”. Stylin’.

    Thanks Aaron, don’t forget to turn out the lights when you leave the room!

  19. Happy earth day to you! I try to be as green as possible. Some of the things I do other than those you listed: I use my own coffee mug at work instead of the styrofoam ones offered by the office, I turn off my office computer at the end of the day, and I try to use old paper when printing out internal papers only seen by me and my fellow editors. I can’t add “vegetarian” to the list, but I do not buy any processed foods. (Not sure if that saves the Earth or only my personal health. Hmmm). Thanks for the links, and fabulous hair!

    Avoiding processed foods is good for the Earth, too! Think of what it takes to process them! Sounds like you’re doing great!

  20. I like your hair! Did you get it colored too? It looks lighter/redder than I remember. (I do like it whether or not you colored it.)

    I just bought some reusable grocery bags during my lunch break. I have been meaning to buy some for months, so yay, I finally did it.

    Yeah, when I met you I didn’t have any color in it at all. We went a little lighter this time, and the flash from the camera amped it up a little, too.

  21. I love the hair and hearing you talk about NYC made me a bit nostalgic for my time there too.

    Re: earth day, I heard on NPR this morning about a group of 4th graders lobbying the Boston statehouse to get them to change their page margins from 1 inch to 1/2 an inch. It’s pretty impressive how much paper you can end up saving over time with this tiny switch…

    That’s a cool idea with the margins! I’ll have to keep that in mind if I ever write something longer than one page.

  22. ok so i’m all about being green. of course i should do more but i have made a conscious effort in some of my daily activities. but what really bugs me though is all of these HUGE companies and organizations saying that are going green. when i don’t think they really are. i mean just because you make your logo the color green and say you are green i don’t believe it.

    i need proof!

    there are so many companies out there that are so full of shit about their green policies it gets me angry.

    sorry, rant over.

    CUTE HAIR!!!!!

    Oh, I totally hear you on that. What could be easier than changing the color of your logo, and what does that prove? (That being said, I published my company’s newsletter in green yesterday for kicks.)

  23. caliente on the new you!

    and Happy Earth Day πŸ™‚

    Muchas gracias!

  24. ps. i feel like my blog has become a mini compendium of my green-ness or attempts at being green. but here’s one thing i haven’t written about yet (but will) – I use a handkerchief instead of tissues.

    Oh, that’s a good one! I might have to implement that, especially since bike riding seems to make my snot fly. (sorry, that was gross.)

  25. Posted by elizabeth on April 22, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Just one little tidbit I thought about this morning……I realized I always turn my car on, then bucklet the seat belt, adjust the mirror, etc.

    So how much gas would I save if I did those things first, then turned on the engine? Not much, of course. But if EVERYONE did that, it should amount to something.

    I think the point is to get us all thinking about what we do just out of habit that we can easily change. Then on to the bigger changes!

    Mom, I had the same realization! It must be that we have the same car. Also, it works in reverse: turn off the car, then the radio, the windows, etc.

  26. love the hair!

    i ditched my car, do the lightbulbs, reusable grocery bags and installed bamboo flooring in my place. unfortunately, the floor will dent if you drop anything heavier or sharper than a marshmallow, so that kind of sucks, but at least i know it’s renewable.

    however, this morning i walked past a guy on the sidewalk with a whole pamphlet/booth thing set up about how global warming is a sham, so i wonder if anything i do is really going to make up for those people.

    I don’t know why anyone would fight against the idea of global warming, because even if the dire predictions don’t come true, cutting down on pollution has virtually no side effects.

  27. Posted by Arrbecca on April 22, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    So there’s this guy John Francis (National Geographic is publishing his book, called Planetwalker). He is all sorts of an amazing individual, but the point of bringing him up right now is: his idea of ‘the environment goes beyond concern about pollution and loss of habitat to include how we humans treat each other and how we can better communicate and work together to benefit the earth (I just paraphrased from the catalog).

    When I read that, I was smitten by his interpretation of ‘environment’ and that is all I’m going to say.

    I love that idea!

  28. Oh Lord, Noelle. I guess I did rub you wrong with my disbelief in Global Warming. I am a proponent of Climate Change. But you can be assured, we are getting rid of the SUV, and I do some of the things you mentioned already. I do believe that we are Stewards of the Earth, because I believe in God. I can only try, you know? Not perfect by any means and I never will be.

    I hope that you will agree with me that we all have our own beliefs and opinions. I would never deny you the right to your opinions. I respect your passion for the Earth. I honestly do, and I will try take inspiration from it.

    I am glad that I came over and read your post today. It gives me enlightenment on your point of view.

    And your new haircut is GORGEOUS!!

    Jen

    Oh, we are so going to have a lovely email exchange!

  29. You know those terrible produce bags at the grocery store? the ones that are clear, flimsy, plastic? I admit, I use them for my produce when I buy things….but I reuse them as my “ziplocks” for lunches and things that won’t dry out in the fridge.

    I can thank my parents (old un-admitted hippies) for instilling a lot of simple things in me at a young age. For having me appreciate a homegrown vegetable garden. And for making me shovel compost, even if I complained miserably.

    I think it’s great you’re going to start a garden! Start with vegetables you know you’ll be excited to eat, and the rest will come as you go along.

    I’ve been re-using the produce bags by bringing them with my re-usable totes. It feels so strange, but I guess it’s good.

  30. i like it!

    !

  31. Look at you with all these comments! (I just wanted to see you hit 30)

    I try not to get excited about comment numbers anymore, but I just can’t help myself.

  32. Oh! Except you already did! Silly me!

    And now even more, you silly gal!

  33. Posted by Chatie on April 22, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    the hair looks hot! noelle = sex on legs!!!

    It’s so true. Speaking of, totally missed you last night, there were hot green guys at the bar!

  34. Posted by supersobe on April 22, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    You look fabulous!

    Oh, you, DO go on!

  35. San Francisco is super green, complete with compost bins next to the trash bins. it’s against the law for grocery store to carry plastic bags and my building has more recycling dumps than trash dumps. Now if they can only do something about the violence, graffiti and all the folks that don’t have homes.

    I love the hair!

    It is a strange place, an interesting experiment in urban planning.

  36. Posted by FDP on April 23, 2008 at 2:57 am

    Hey there, for us being green is relatively easy– we use only public transportation here, unflattering florecent bulbs, recycle every dang thing in sight (by law) and they don’t provide bags at the grocery store unless you pay for each of them…so we’ve been using reusable fabric bags.

    The Swiss are also the creators of the SIGG and we only use personal reusable water bottles…I did want to say to 3carnations: please please please don’t reuse standard water bottles. My father designs machines that package food, liquids and water into bags and plastic containers. He holds over 2 dozen patents for food packaging and the 1 thing he has reenforced for me is that the pre-filled water bottles you buy at the store MUST NEVER BE REUSED!! The moment they are opened and 02 is introduced bacteria starts to grow, that bateria not only effects the water, but it effects the plastic, which immediately starts to breakdown…never mind what happens if you put said open bottle in the sun…you know how soft the plastic gets? Well, guess what– you’re now drinking plastic molecules and no I am no exagerating, this is coming from a man whose job it is to make sure that the machines can fill the bottles and keep the water pure. So, please 3carnations: buy the water bottles that are designed to be refilled, it is much better for you and your family.

    I so wish buying organic wasn’t quite as expensive and also, though I’ve thought about the “sea sponge” route for that time of the month, I haven’t found them here yet, I’d at least try it once. Now if only organic deodorants actually worked, trust me 5 miles a day of running tells me that they do nothing to help with smell.

    Happy Earth Day All!

    I’ve heard that about the water bottles, and now there’s much contention that the hard-plastic Nalgene style bottles (which I use) also are a health hazard. I don’t want to throw this one away, because that also seems wasteful, so I’m going to have to think about what to do next.

  37. I think the haircut and style are fabulous!

    Thanks! I just put my trust in Max, and that’s how it comes out!

  38. My newest deal is not using paper towels to dry my hands at work. I would never use paper towels at home, but at the office there aren’t many options. I was going to further my reputation as the office weirdo/recluse by bringing my own towel… until I realized that my hands dry on their own in about 30 seconds. Seriously, a few shakes combined with the dry office air, and they’re dry, no trees involved.

    Nice hair.

    Sometimes I dry my hands in my hair which also helps with the flyaways. I find that if I use soap, they get wetter. Is that possible? I’d like to hear stories of you bringing your own towel. That sounds fun.

  39. Love the hair! It looks a little like mine. I love that cut!

    I’m slowly but surely trying to be better. I switched to Method cleaning products, cardboard applicator tampons and I recycle. I know there is more that I can do. And I’m getting there.

    And I also berate my brother about being more green.

  40. Sexy mama!

    Earth day is my work anniversary. I have yet to log into work mail, but I’m guessing it went by unnoticed as it does every year, including the big year 5. (Is that big? In IT it is.)

  41. Well, i Love the haircut!! – you look So cute!
    and i think you should get a toaster oven to cook that lone potato. πŸ˜€

  42. Posted by nancypearlwannabe on April 27, 2008 at 9:57 am

    A bunch of the big grocery stores have stopped giving out plastic bags. I think they’re following suit from Whole Foods. Luckily, we have three reusable bags from Trader Joe’s that were $3.

    Love the haircut!

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