turning green

Once again I’m behind on updating the Green Index for the new season. There’s only a month of Fall left, so I doubt I’ll be switching things up too much for winter.

We did pretty well on our summer goals – especially if I count the last couple months!

  • Learn more about green cleaning and disinfecting without bleach. I’ve been using a lot of vinegar (Burningman clean-up got me started on the joys of vinegar, and there’s a great list of “45 Things to Do with Vinegar” on pp 184-185 of How it All Vegan! (a must-have for vegans). We’ve also settled on a reasonably affordable brand of eco-friendly laundry detergent.
  • Steam more, fry less. I’m doing this!
  • Juice at least once a week. Pretty much.
  • Buy less packaged food — but also work on keeping more healthy quick foods available, so I don’t skip lunch and we don’t eat out so much. Joining the CSA was great for this. As far as snacks, I’ve developed a fondness for pumpkin butter and Mary’s Be-Gone crackers. And I’ve been overjoyed to learn that I’m not actually allergic to bananas after all — at least not anymore. So along with the old stand-by (peanut butter and apples), I’ve got a pretty good selection of healthy snackfood around all the time. Also, Ben and I have been working on leaving leftovers instead of gobbling down every last morsel of whatever I cook for dinner. That helps ensure that I don’t eat burritos for lunch every day.
  • Switch to more efficient lightbulbs. This one’s going to have to stick around for a while. None of our bulbs have burned out in ages, so it seems kind of silly to throw them away and replace them. Even if it would save energy.

I’ve added a couple new goals. One is to take my “recycled christmas” idea up a notch this year — making holiday gifts and using mostly recycled materials. I’ll probably also make some food/drink gifts since those are practical and fun. And we’ve talked about giving donations in the names of people who would appreciate it. We’ll probably buy a few gifts, but only in those cases where I don’t have a decent handmade idea.

The other goal is about charitable giving. I actually don’t like the word “charity.” There’s a wonderful quote somewhere about not believing in charity but in solidarity, but that’s a whole rant that will have to wait til another day. The gist is that we do give to several groups we believe in, but we’ve never sat down and figured out how much of our income we want to give away regularly. That’s something I want to commit to for 2008.

7 thoughts on “turning green

  1. Energy saving lightbulbs — so glad you are using up old bulbs also. My mom brought me two lamps from my childhood bedroom with bulbs still in them. I feel guilty for not changing over to something more efficient, but I am torn about just tossing them away before the end of their life.

  2. I was offering an alternative to the word “charity”….I see it was impactful! LOL! so muhc ofr my bright ideas..

  3. Ah, okay. I guess you threw me with the word investing. I thought you meant like eco-conscious investment funds and such.

    Philanthropy to me has the same tone as charity. Of course it’s not a bad thing to give money to those less fortunate than oneself. But it still connotes “us and them” or “haves and have-nots,” like we’re doing someone a favor as opposed to recognizing our connectedness and trying to help balance an unfair situation. I like the word solidarity. And I like the concept of tithing.

    Whatever you call it, the money’s got to come from somewhere and it’s better that it come from progressive groups and individuals than from government sources and restrictive foundations. I’ve got lots of feelings about the non-profit “buffer zone” — the idea that organizations working to ameliorate problems like homelessness and interpersonal violence are so stymied by the hoops they have to jump to maintain their funding that they can’t be real forces for changing the system. I have so much respect for people doing “good work” for non-profits, but it’s not hard to see how the non-profit sector as a whole acts as a bandaid. They help just enough to reduce the imperative for profound change. Rather than putting themselves out of business as a truly radical organization would seek to do, they keep having to grow to keep up with the creep of inequity. That’s my soapbox in a nutshell.

  4. Very nicely put. I’d have to say I agree with the premise that the idea of charity (philanthropy) creates a sensbility ofus and them. But there’s the idealistic view that you mention above, and I tend to agree with. There is no sense of community, no neighbor helping neighbor.

    I temper that with the thought that the reality of the world in which we are living, and navigating is reaching a saturation point with the idea of “giving”. It’s unfortunate, but I think that it’s true. Case-in-point, the non-profit my family has. We have a pretty solid core of volunteers but you can see how they are becoming a little tiredwith being the “only ones all the time”.

    My point is, In this world of label pins (austism, pink ribbons, red ribbons, pow/mai ribbons), car magnets and chain emails, we won’t be able to connect again until we can really get out and do the work to really make change. Where is our Ghandi? This does not presume I am reliant upon any one to make my own changes and sacrifices to help others. We desperately need that spark to help us all reconnect. I thought we had a chance with the aftermath of 9/11 and that was quickly quashed with bonehead and friends and the march to war.

    So what is my position in all this? I am reminded of Robert Kennedy. He was the voice of hope for a trouble generation. as a child of that troubled generation I think we’ve carried some of the burden too. He made a speech in South Africa in 1966, I think it’s revelant today.

    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/speech/rfksa.htm

    and this:

    “I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.”- RFK

    I want to enact chage, I want to stand up, but I am more inclinded to try to change things by teaching, and by volunteering for local and the family charities. Is it enough? I have no clue.

    If it doesn’t sart with me, then who- if not now- when? (I said this to my mother six months ago when I was explaining the notion of cutting down on driving to the commuter lot every day (12 miles one-way) and sucking it up and taking the train to work 2 to 3 times per week that takes 30-40 minutes longer but is located 3 blocks from my home ( NOTE: In DC we get a commuter subsidy of $110/month to use towards mass transit- I can cover the cost of trains and metro to/from work a few times a week).

    My dear Reagan-ite mother gave me that eyes-sideways “yeah right” nod.

    Go figure.

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