Going Green: June 12, 2009

Sleeping naked
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  June 10, 2009

Back when I started this column in May 2007, I sought inspiration from several blogs. Among my daily reading material was Colin Beavan's NoImpactMan.typepad.com (a New York dad's attempts to remove himself from the grid), Treehugger.com (a catch-all for eco-news and tips), and TheCrunchyChicken.com (a mom and wife's tales of cooking and living green). They all offered great insights, ideas, and analysis.

But my favorite stop in the blogosphere was GreenAsAThistle.com, the project of a young, single female journalist living in Toronto, who made a commitment in March 2007 to make one eco-change every day for a year — and write about it on her Web site. Her mission was much like the one I'd created for myself with Going Green: to greenify her life, one bit at a time, and document it in the hopes that others would want to do the same (the fact that she faced this challenge on a daily basis, as opposed to monthly, only increases my respect for her).

In her blog posts, Vanessa Farquharson, who is 30 now, was personable, funny, and honest about the difficulties she faced in implementing certain lifestyle changes. She wrote about everything from organic shampoo and food choices to her sex life and her cat. She struggled with one of the biggest problems I've faced, as this column celebrates its two-year anniversary: What do you write about when you've gone as green as you'd like? There's only so much you can say about eco-friendly cat litter.

I was excited to see that she's translated her blogged journey into a book, Sleeping Naked is Green (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), which comes out this month. "The big challenge," she says on the phone from Toronto, "was how to make sure that the book wasn't just going to be re-hashing the blog. It had to have more of a narrative."

And it does. Each chapter begins with a list of Farquharson's green changes that month, but she chooses just a few to write about at length. Woven in with her descriptions of these changes (switch to organic dairy and rennet-free cheese, no more toilet paper for number one, unplug the refrigerator, and, as the title suggests, sleep naked to save some laundry energy) is the account of her year, one that included professional challenges, the purchase of a home, and a good amount of romantic excitement. Throughout, she combines humor with personal journalism. (Her descriptions of her decidedly un-green sister are particularly hilarious.) By the end, we know not just how she changed her life to go green, but how her life was changed by doing so.

"So much stuff was happening in terms of my personal relationships, my lifestyle, my emotions, that didn't really have a place on the blog," she says. The book lends itself to these stories.

Most refreshing, aside from her candid evaluations of potential boyfriends (classic use of a pro-con list!), is her analysis of the project as a whole — her acknowledgement of her own slip-ups, her complete lack of self-righteousness. Her admission, on day 322, that "I can't wait for this to end. I really can't."

How is Farquharson feeling now that the 365-day challenge is over? She's thrilled to be eating (some) non-local foods ("I just didn't feel healthy eating just cabbage and beets."), her beau has moved in, and she estimates that she keeps up with approximately 74 percent of the changes she made.

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: Layers of buying local, Interview: Colin Beavan, Weathering the weather, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Internet, Science and Technology, Technology,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE  |  July 24, 2014
    When three theater companies, all within a one-hour drive of Portland, choose to present the same Shakespeare play on overlapping dates, you have to wonder what about that particular show resonates with this particular moment.
  •   NUMBER CRUNCHERS  |  July 23, 2014
    Maybe instead of devoting still-more resources to food reviews, Maine’s leading news organizations should spend money on keeping better tabs on Augusta.
    Among last year’s 100 top-grossing films, women represented just 15 percent of protagonists, and less than one-third of total characters.
    Former Mainer Shanna McNair started The New Guard, an independent, multi-genre literary review, in order to exalt the writer, no matter if that writer was well-established or just starting out.
  •   NO TAR SANDS  |  July 10, 2014
    “People’s feelings are clear...they don’t want to be known as the tar sands capitol of the United States."

 See all articles by: DEIRDRE FULTON