20 green things no one seems to mention

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
~Unknown, often seen as “Cree proverb”

The internet is infested with them. “10 things you can do to save the earth!” Except that after a while, they all just repeat themselves and sound rather…trite. Not to mention most of them aren’t feasible for someone who works two jobs and lives paycheck to paycheck. The “green movement” is dominated by spending, when in reality you don’t need money to go green. And no, I wouldn’t expect someone to do all of these. Nor is this a be-all-end-all list. It’s a starting point of uncommon suggestions.

1. Move into town. I’d rather live in the country, too, but if we all did there’d be no country left.
2. Live small(er). If you live in 1,000 sq ft, downsize to 800. If 800, live in 500.
3. Live in an apartment. You can fit a whole lot more people per square mile in apartment buildings than you can in houses.
4. Get a roommate. Related to the above…the more humans we can fit on fewer square miles, the better. Habitat loss is the leading cause of extinction. See also, habitat fragmentation.
5. Spay/neuter your animals. If not for the sake of the millions of animals euthanized every year for want of a home, then for the native habitats and species affected by free-roaming pets and livestock.
6. There is no number six.
7. Quit buying new shit. Buy used shit instead.
8. Rent, borrow, lease. Movies, video games, books, tools, equipment, children, household goods, furniture. The list goes on.
9. Quit buying shit altogether. If you feel the need for rehab, join the Compact. Tell your friends and make them hold you accountable. Start a blog. “My name is _______, and I need to quit buying shit.”
10. Don’t have (a) kid(s). The greenest human being is the one that doesn’t exist. Especially if this hypothetical human being is an American.
11. Divorce anything you have to plug in. Within reason. I’m rather attached to the computer, the stove, and the fridge. The kitty water fountain, however, was totally not necessary and we have parted ways. I’ve also ditched the CD player (computer plays CDs just fine) and I’m in the process of divorcing the TV.
12. Buy quality goods. Buy a decent desk that won’t fall apart in two years. Get a good pair of shoes. If your kid throws shit, you might want to invest in plastic tableware, at least for a few years. Buy shit you don’t have to replace often.
13. Fix shit. Mend the clothing, fix the bike. Think of it as a learning experience. If the vacuum’s broken, you don’t lose anything if you can’t fix it after all, but if you do fix it, you don’t have to buy a new one. Either way you get to see what the inside of a vacuum looks like. Win-win.
14. Dumpster dive. People throw out good shit all the time. I’ve found TVs, bikes, futons, solid wood furniture, CD players, computer parts, and kittens. Okay, so Jiji is a little…special, but otherwise, that’s a perfectly good cat someone threw out!
15. Do without. Again, within reason. I don’t cook enough carrots to justify buying a damn peeler. If I do cook a carrot, I peel it with a good knife (see number 12).
16. Drink tap water. I still can’t wean myself off the soda, but if you can, there’s nothing greener than plain water you drink out of a glass. Get a nice glass that clinks.
17. Walk/Bike. The average human being gets better gas mileage than a Prius. So does the average bicycle.
18. Eat less. Agriculture is the biggest contributor to habitat loss and fragmentation.
19. Eat whole foods. You know, foods you cook from scratch. Produce, actual meat, that sort of thing. Less packaging, less processing, and little or no advertising needed.
20. Kill your TV. Television advertisers want you to buy shit. Don’t say you’re immune…none of us are. They are very, very good at what they do, and what they do is make us want shit we don’t need. And just how many hours of your life do you waste in front of that thing, anyway? Turn it off and do something you’ve been meaning to do. Pick up a hobby, cook a meal, go for a walk, volunteer, read a book.

Anyone have other suggestions?

6 Responses to “20 green things no one seems to mention”

  1. We’ve done a lot towards living a greener life, and a lot of what we do isn’t on the ‘top 10’ lists. :P

    We don’t buy paper products, other than writing paper. No toilet tissue, no kleenex, no paper towels. Instead, we use shop rags, old clothes, cut up towels, washcloths and other cloth options. There’s a diaper pail in the bathroom, and once a week or so, a load goes in the washer. (We’re in the process of weaning ourselves off the dryer, but it’s so hard! I think we’ll unplug it soon, and see how long we last.)

    We don’t use commercial soaps. For laundry, dishes, and general cleaning, we use soap nuts. They’re renewable, compostable and completely natural. The company we get them from buys them at fair trade prices from the native folks who harvest them. We buy in bulk, once a year to cut down on shipping costs (both economical and environmental costs.) For body washing and hair care, we use baking soda and apple cider vinegar. We’re using up the last of the toothpaste, and will be researching alternatives soon (I think baking soda will do fine, and we won’t be adding another purchase!)

    We recycle everything. Paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, styrofoam… kitchen scraps, yard waste… Everything gets reused, and very little gets tossed out. Plastics number five and six get reused several times before they go to the trash, and if we could find someplace to recycle them, too, we would. Organic waste goes to the chickens, as does most of the paper (nest box filler). Yard waste gets composted, fed to the chickens, or used as mulch in the garden.

    We don’t buy new things (I know, you mentioned it, but it’s worth saying again.) Thrift stores and second hand shops are amazing! I got a floor length black gown, velvet and tulle, (and beautiful to boot!) for seven dollars and fifty cents! We counted one day, and in our house, there are under ten furniture items that were bought new. Mainly bookcases, because it’s hard to find good bookcases second hand (and everytime we see one, we get it, no matter what.)

    We use the truck for hauling large items and trashpicking, but otherwise, we use bikes and trailers for getting around town.

    We use canvas totes and reusable bags for all our shopping. We don’t use plastic bags, ever. (ok, so this one is on those top ten lists, but a lot of people only give this one lip service, and have one or two reusable bags that they leave in the car all the time and never remember to use.)

    We’re also in the process of taking out the front yard to put in a garden. :)

    In the spring and fall, we turn off the air conditioner and heater, and open the windows. So far this year, we used the AC from mid June to the beginning of September, and haven’t had to use the heat yet (we turned it off in the spring in February.) We’ve got rain barrels to catch rain from the roof, to use to water the garden, too.

    Mostly when I read those top ten lists, I laugh. They’re good places to start, if you have no clue at all about how to ‘go green.’ But if you’ve got a clue, sometimes finding the next step can be kinda tricky. We’re a bit extreme when it comes to treehuggery stuff, but I figure, the further out we push the boundary, the more we pull the ‘average’ towards eco-friendly green, instead of consumerist throw money at it brownish.


    Thanks for such an insightful post, btw. It certainly inspired me to write on the subject! :P

    • cwnmamau Says:

      :D Yay inspiration!

      I forgot to mention that I never use a dryer…I haven’t since I moved out of my mother’s house. Mostly because I have to pay to wash/dry clothes, so it’s cheaper for me to just line-dry everything. And I love the smell of clothes that have dried in the sun. But it’s easy for me since I’m on my own…there’s very little laundry.

      One thing that’s always bugged me about attempting to ascertain how green you or someone else is is that it’s always about carbon/global warming. That’s important, but it seems like that’s all anyone talks about anymore. I’m more concerned with habitat loss/fragmentation and resource waste.

  2. In addition to #16 Buy a decent water filter for your tap water. The complete shit in your water.. *sigh* yeah, a filter is a must. Too bad it’s still up in the air weather the filters filter out the hormones in the water. (Yay for birth control and pharmesudicals?) (UGH spelling, I need to fix the sp checker on this…)

  3. Dargon Says:

    I don’t need a filter, filters make the waters not taste like chemicals.

    Really, all I gots to say is huzzah for actual green stuff rather than those bullshit top ten things lists.

  4. Aside from the problem of transport, I have a hard understanding your top three suggestions. Could you detail the reasoning as to how these are beneficial? I also disagree with number 10 on an animalistic principal.

    • cwnmamau Says:

      It has to do with habitat loss and fragmentation. A higher density of humans per square mile results in higher rates of “humanization:” the turning of wild lands into “civilized” areas. So when someone moves into a previously unoccupied (by humans) area, they tend to bring with them habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, invasive species (ornamental plants and pets, for example), roads, and increased human traffic all around.

      So for #1, I’m advocating moving into an area that’s already been damaged by human influence in order to keep the human sphere limited. Also, people in cities tend to live in smaller areas, thus allowing us to live with more people on less land, which is also #2.

      #3 works on an extension of the same principle. My apartment complex is maybe the same square footage as three to five suburban lots, but it has 36 units. A lot more people on the same amount of land.

      Also with these, there’s an increasing trend toward smaller houses/apartments. These are cheaper and more efficient to cool and heat (especially apartments). So that reduces their carbon footprint.

      I hoped that helped clarify it somewhat. And not a lot of people are going to like #10, regardless. :P

      Thanks for the great questions!

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