When I started documenting my journey through the world of green living idealism, my goal was to act as a bridge between the Crazy-Hippie-Freaks and the Mother-Earth-Killers. I feared mainstreamers would be turned off by life in a yurt, wearing organic linen (homespun from the co-op field of flax), foraging sunlight, moonbeams, and rainbows for meals—as tasty as they are. I didn’t want them to reject all of it outright.
I, as liaison perched between the two worlds, try to offer several tour packages into this foreign, exotic, even, yes, sexy jungle of green living—a world that includes frightening things called
(No. It’s not what it sounds like. It’s alternative shampoo.)
Tour Package #1—“Li’l Tyke’s Toe-Dippers’ Club.” We’ll carpool our way around the outskirts of the jungle. We’ll see some reusable tote bags, try our hand at easy recycling (metal, plastic, cardboard), and, if we’re lucky, we might even find a couple of second-hand items that we need, in place of buying new. Try the optional lunch add-on: Intro to Vegetarian Cuisine—Almond butter/Local Honey or Hummus/Organic Vegetable sandwiches on local artisan bread. Yum!
Tour Package #2—“Eco-Adventurer-Lite Team.” In this tour, conducted by public transportation, we will explore even further than the “Toe-Dippers’” tour. At our first stop, the local grocery store, we will buy in bulk (to reduce waste) and use reusable mesh bags when buying produce. Our second stop is at the Farmers’ Market to see what interesting local/organic foods/people we find. We will forego a stop for fast food (though if we DID go, we would kindly refuse the kids’ toys) and have a picnic lunch instead. (See above for lunch choices. Optional add-on: quinoa salad.) It will be a no-waste affair—cloth napkins, real cutlery. (Please bring a reusable drink container. If you do not have one, and you think you might get thirsty, you can either share with your neighbor or purchase a container at the gift shop before departure. Or, hope it rains.) We will practice freezing leftovers in glass jars or reusable plastic containers (*not* zip-top bags). Optional take-home challenge: minimize the times you take the garbage out for pick-up over the next 12 months.
Tour Package #3—the “Super Nerdy Green Dorks.” This tour will be via bicycle, so bring a helmet. We will eliminate any chemical pest control/lawn service and start using rakes and push mowers in the yard. We will seek out as much vegetable matter and food scraps in increasingly disgusting stages of rot and collect it for the compost bin. After that we will train ourselves how to sign up for CSAs (Community-Supported Agriculture) to receive fresh-picked, local farm foods. (There are also meat CSAs for those carnivores who, like my husband, feel that vegetables are what food eats.) We will arrange for a home energy audit, we will find repair shops and tailors/seamstresses. This tour also shows us how to recycle more challenging items (i.e. used cooking oil). The meal included in this tour package will be at a locally-owned (non-chain) restaurant whose chefs feature dishes inspired by fresh, seasonal ingredients. We will bring our own reusable “To-Go” containers, should there be any leftovers.
I am not qualified to lead any expeditions more hardcore than these. For example, there are green advocates out there who shun toilet paper made not only from virgin wood but from recycled sources as well. Instead they might use any single or combination of the following: moistened cloth wipes that get laundered, French-style bidet, or a tool attached to the toilet’s incoming water supply that sprays water, ahem, wherever you might, uh . . . need water sprayed.
I am inspired by their efforts. I truly am. However, when I’m trekking my way through this crazy wilderness and Nature comes a’ callin’, you can be sure that I’ll be packing my folding shovel, and, yes, a roll of toilet paper.
At least for this year.