One Green Thing

For years now the Muse and I have dinner every third Wednesday. It was her idea at some point in the conversation to talk about one green thing we had done in the space between dates that helped the environment.

She'd already given up paper towels for cloth napkins. She sent her daughter to school with wax sandwich bags instead of baggies, a thermos of tap water instead of a purchased plastic bottle of water. She cut up real carrots for crying out loud and no longer used double ply Oh So Soft Charmin, choosing a recycled brand instead.

I on the other hand bought a plastic bowl at the Soup Company because I ate there five days a week and they gave a $.25 discount each time. I used the bowl for the boxed cereal I ate at my desk before lunch. I cleaned up spills with free napkins and bought Charmin for the Muse's husband on his birthday. I gave him two rolls to be respectful but he say an opening and went home smiling with the entire pack of 12.

It took years before I began to notice opportunities for small green actions. I put canvas bags in the car and remembered to use them. I threw away less food, turned off lights when I left the room. I turned the shower down, sometimes.

And then the books by Mr. Pollan, Ms. Kingsolver and the Plenty couple woke me up to a whole world of green action. Here I am with barely any garbage and a third green eye.

Some days it's blinding to see all the green actions I could or should be taking. I use too much paper printing at work, buy too many coffees at Starbuck's. I bought a box of plastic for a five year olds birthday, ordered shoes on line and returned them when they got here.

And I still have the conversation with the Muse. But now I'm having the conversation with all my friends. I go through the whole story like I just did. "Tell me one green action you've done recently." I go first if they hesitate.

"We're collecting cold water in the shower that used to go down the drain while we waited for it to get hot." I flex my muscles before adding, "I carry it downstairs to the garden." By then everyone has realized an action they are doing that is good for the environment.

They are walking back to their car for their canvas bag. Not letting the water run while they do dishes. They are dumping old bottled water on their house plants, volunteering at shelters, walking to work. They are cancelling their catalogs, planting tomatoes, giving up plastic bags. They are using their leftovers and looking for local in their grocery stores.

Everyone has a story and when I listen it wakes me up to my own. I realize the places I've been asleep or learn something new. I become recommitted to my own stories of working for the environment.

"Thanks for asking," more than one of my friends have concluded.

"Thank you," I always respond. And I mean it.


Anonymous said...

It's great to hear that small shifts toward being more green are spreading throughout the country. Thanks for the inspiration to ask my friends about the green things they've done lately.

Green Bean said...

What a beautiful post, Katrina. I don't think I ever ask people for an example of one green thing they've done. I tend to get uber focused in one area or another and I always think there is something to be learned. I'll have to starting asking friends and family. It just feels good, too, doesn't it to share what we are all trying to do for this place we call home.

Kale for Sale said...

lori and green bean - I hope you writes about what you hear after having the conversations for awhile. I didn't say that the most surprising one I had was with the wife of an acquaintance of the cute guy, ie. someone I did not know but knew immediately she didn't have a green bone in her body. I was so wrong. And it felt good being wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being a beacon of green light in this world, Katrina!

Anonymous said...

Tamara said my feelings exactly -- Thank you for being a beacon of green light and an inspirtation to do what we can to be green. These days I often feel like I have Katrina on my shoulder, watching what I'm doing and suggesting alternatives!

Anonymous said...

Katrina -- what about bringing your own mug or contanier to Starbucks when you get your coffees there?

Kale for Sale said...

Tamara and TQ - xox

TQ - I go through this argument in my head every time I walk into a Starbucks or wherever. I don't like the thermal sippy cups. I wish I did. I reuse my paper cups but it's still wasteful. I certainly have my eyes open for an alternative I'm not fussy about. Ideally I make my own coffee, which I often do but not enough. It's complicated by the fact that I really like the people who work at the Starbucks near my office. They are so nice and they reuse the hot cup holder rings they let me return. No one else does that, they always tell me. And I always think that's because anyone with half a green heart wouldn't be going to Starbucks to begin with. But there I am.

Lucy said...

Katrina, I am going to ask this exact question to myself, my partner, his teenage boys and anyone else who'll care to listen each month.

The Muse sounds rather wise...

Kale for Sale said...

Lucy - Of course. Ask the boys. I always am telling the kids. Thanks for the reminder to ask and then be quiet and listen.

You are quite wise yourself. I'll tell the Muse.