Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sleeping Naked Is Green: Discussion 4

Sleeping Nekkid is GreenWoohoo! We've made it to the final discussion post of Vanessa Farquharson's book, Sleeping Naked Is Green. Once again, for those who are unfamiliar, Vanessa is the writer of the green blog, Green as a Thistle and the book summarizes the 366 green changes she made over the course of a year. In this installment we'll be covering the winter and final chapters. So, grab yourself some local wine (or not-so-local coffee if it's morning) and join me.

December: During December, Vanessa stops shaving her legs, quits downhill skiing, drinks only fair-trade tea, goes cold turkey with her vacuum, stops using paper towels and makes her own cosmetics and beauty products.

Although this chapter was somewhat light on the green changes, I found it an interesting statistic that one toilet flush on an airplane equates to over fourteen pounds of carbon dioxide, which is enough to power an average-size car for six miles. Now I have one more reason to avoid the airplane bathroom besides my fear of getting sucked out.

Vanessa also describes her meeting with Colin of No Impact Man fame, her rival at a year-long green challenge. She tries to sneak out of him more details about his toileting habits (which lack any TP), but he remains elusive on the subject. Apparently, he switched back to toilet paper after his challenge ended. Vanessa, to her benefit, still uses cloth wipes. Go Vanessa!

January: The new year brings with it no new plastic, switching to organic cotton produce bags, taking a butchering class to confront her meat-eating and switching to Bullfrog Power, which uses alternative energy sources.

Vanessa also buys a used mattress for her new place and ends up buying it from the guy working at the U-Haul rather than from the person she intended to on Craigslist. The reason for the used mattress was to avoid off-gassing. In the end, she only paid $120 for the mattress, boxspring, love seat and transportation. I'd say she also got away with her life. Really, Vanessa, taking up some guy named Fred's offer to test out a used mattress in the back of a U-Haul office sounds rather sketchy.

February: In February, Vanessa installs a dual-flush toilet (I'm jealous!), sets up a rain barrel to collect water for the garden, stops using makeup, restricts food to only that grown in the Ontario region and provides for an eco-friendly funeral in her will. In addition, she also switches over to eco-logs in the fireplace.

Epilogue: The epilogue contains a follow-up of the number of changes that she's stuck with. She doesn't go through which ones have worked out and which ones haven't per se, but she does mention a few and calculated that about 74 percent of the green changes she continues to do.

She also had Zero-footprint run the calculations (as best they could) on what kind of impact the changes made. They were able to do so on about 26 percent of her total changes (some things like consumer consumption are difficult to translate into carbon) and it resulted in approximately 11.02 tons of CO2 saved. Not bad for a cynic, eh?

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Random discussion questions:

  • If you are female, would you be willing to stop shaving your legs and/or armpits in the name of environmentalism? Have you stopped wearing makeup?
  • Do you avoid anything made or packaged in plastic? Would you be willing to forgo products that were?
  • Would you be willing to butcher your own meat to learn more about the process?
  • Do you use rain barrels?
  • Do you burn wood or eco-logs in your fireplace (if you have one and use it)?
  • What would you have liked Vanessa to have done during her challenge or have done differently? Were there things in particular that you would have liked a more thorough follow-up on?

    Related posts:
    Sleeping Naked Is Green: Discussion 1 (Spring)
    Sleeping Naked Is Green: Discussion 2 (Summer)
    Sleeping Naked Is Green: Discussion 3 (Fall)
  • 26 comments:

    Janelle S said...

    So, I haven't read this book, but here are some thoughts on the discussion questions:

    If you are female, would you be willing to stop shaving your legs and/or armpits in the name of environmentalism? Have you stopped wearing makeup? No and no.

    Do you avoid anything made or packaged in plastic? Would you be willing to forgo products that were? We try.

    Would you be willing to butcher your own meat to learn more about the process? Yes.

    Do you use rain barrels? No.

    Do you burn wood or eco-logs in your fireplace (if you have one and use it)? Not applicable.

    What would you have liked Vanessa to have done during her challenge or have done differently? Were there things in particular that you would have liked a more thorough follow-up on? No comment (since I haven't read the book.)

    While I love these personal autobiographies of green living, I do think we need to keep a semblance of perspective on things. Nothing's black and white. There's almost no right or wrong. We each do our thing and hopefully we're working for something better than ourselves.

    Personally, I get tired of people bemoaning these "extreme" forms of environmental living - no shaving, no make-up, no plastic, no TP. Not that I don't absolutely respect that people do it, but because the "civilized" masses will not. It's silly to expect they will. I believe in transforming what these masses do and the mass impact of the average consumer.

    And, believe me, unless society collapses and they have no choice, unfortunately, these people will not forgo toilet paper and plastic. We need to change the system, not the people. People are egocentric and short-sighted.

    But, it only takes a minority of strong people to change the system. So, what is Vanessa doing to change the system? What can each of us who understand the need for change do beyond changing our own homes and habits? We must be much more than what we want to see. We have to make things happen that are larger than our own personal being.

    Janelle S said...

    Maybe I also should've added that we do a ton of things around our home (like I wear make-up, but mostly organic and we don't use rain barrels, but we collect rainwater and reuse water in different ways). Just trying to emphasize the need for acting beyond your home. Being a citizen of the world. Making democracy work. Making the world better by making a better world and not just a better you.

    Okay. My two cents (turned twenty-five or more) are done. Thanks for inspiring thoughts, Deanna!

    Beany said...

    I don't shave my legs very often (its not very noticeable when my legs are very tan), I'm an occasional shaver. It's not because of the environment, but rather because I'm lazy. Armpits are shaved only when I wear sleeveless clothes or if I'm planning on getting especially stinky (like a long bike ride on a hot day).

    I wear some sort of environmental makeup and its as good as not wearing any. My eyeliner flakes off after a few hours and my lipstick also dissappears to a point where no one thinks I ever wear makeup.

    I'm trying to avoid plastic. The shampoo thing is a big nuisance for me. The baking soda/vinegar combo makes my hair gunky and stinky. I've been using Giovannis with no problem.

    Husband just went vegetarian and I've recommitted to be one for life - so no meats for me.

    Rain Barrels - nope.

    Robj98168 said...

    If you are female, would you be willing to stop shaving your legs and/or armpits in the name of environmentalism? Have you stopped wearing makeup?What makes you think I don't dhsve my legs? Maybe the bikini area!! Don't shave, dont wear make up.

    Do you avoid anything made or packaged in plastic? Would you be willing to forgo products that were?I already forgo Trader Joes produce, except the ones that are bulk type (some apples potatoes, some fruit) I don't understand 4 apples in a plastic box- besides they are all Chilean/New Zealand a littl farther than local

    Would you be willing to butcher your own meat to learn more about the process? Why not. I alreafy make my own sausages. If I can handle pig casings I can handle just about anything.

    Do you use rain barrels?Yup.

    Do you burn wood or eco-logs in your fireplace (if you have one and use it)? No- my fireplace is electric, was jellied alcohol but that was expensive and i Have heard bad things about burning it.

    What would you have liked Vanessa to have done during her challenge or have done differently? Were there things in particular that you would have liked a more thorough follow-up on?
    Her love life. A little more than a mention at the end epilogue that her and her boyfriend got together. Cmon Vanessa give us a more happy ending! That and I wished she would have had more detail on her snotty little sister

    Robj98168 said...

    May I add I finally finished a book in the Crunchy Book Club? Yay ME!

    knutty knitter said...

    I never have worn make up except in stage shows. Baking soda is great but I've never done the vinegar thing. I shave my upper lip because cruel nature gave me a mustache but I don't shave anything else. Water isn't an issue here and I use a small electric heater only.

    I have butchered my own meat up to rabbit size. I try to avoid as much plastic as possible although one does have to eat! And I do cloth wipes for everything except cat vomit and #2 s.

    viv in nz

    Eco Yogini said...

    the end of the book, i have to admit, was the most difficult for me. I found she was becoming increasingly frustrated and her changes weren't making her happy- she just wanted the challenge to be done. Although I do know for SURE that these changes have helped shape her 'new' life as eco-warrior (WOo!), I just didn't feel that energy in the last part of her book. Maybe it was the winter part?
    Vanessa- is this just me or were you becoming jaded with the whole point by the end?

    anyhoo- nope wouldn't stop shaving my legs or wearing makeup (however, I HAVE considered waxing, but am too much of a chicken, I'd have to put topical anesthetic over my ENTIRE legs... LOL)
    I most certainly avoid as much as I can that has plastic. I have said 'no' to certain things that are packaged insanely- or chosen something because it was more readily recyclable... but forego if it's a necessity (like TP?) nope.

    nope on the butchering- I'd throw up all over the meat and the butcher wouldn't like that very much.

    I would LOVE to use rain barrels, but we live in an apartment.

    no fireplace... wouldn't have one.

    Vanessa's book was awesome and honest which I loved.
    I think she did a FANTASTIC job :)

    Sarah said...

    If you are female, would you be willing to stop shaving your legs and/or armpits in the name of environmentalism? Have you stopped wearing makeup?

    I already don't shave my legs or wear makeup. Just not my thing. Shaving my armpits keeps down the smelly and thus requires less deodorant.


    Do you avoid anything made or packaged in plastic? Would you be willing to forgo products that were?

    I try, but it's not a firm veto. I'd be willing to try to go cold turky on non-reusable plastic -- there are plenty of things that come in quite useful containers.


    Would you be willing to butcher your own meat to learn more about the process?

    Already have, though I don't have space to raise my own, so it's not something I'm likely to do on a regular basis. It was fun :-)

    Do you use rain barrels?

    No, can't set them up on our apartment and water conservation isn't a big issue here so long as we don't water our non-existent lawn all the time or something like that.

    Do you burn wood or eco-logs in your fireplace (if you have one and use it)? N/A

    What would you have liked Vanessa to have done during her challenge or have done differently? Were there things in particular that you would have liked a more thorough follow-up on?

    I wish she hadn't waited until the dead of winter to go local for food. That's the absolute hardest time of the year for it in that climate and makes it out to be this incredible hardship. If she'd started in June and tried preserving things and stuff like that, it would have been a more realistic experiment.

    Billie said...

    Would you be willing to stop shaving?

    I did it once for health reasons. I have gone back to shaving once a week.

    Do I wear makeup? nope and haven't for most of my life.

    Do I avoid plastic? Yep! I am in the No Plastic Challenge by FakePlasticFish and have managed to lose 8 lbs so far just by changing how I eat. I am a convert!

    Sonja said...

    Ok, have to go with no on giving up shaving, can't really tell you why other than my kids rub my legs and complain when I don't.

    We try to avoid purchasing items with excess packaging, and for a family of six, buying bulk just makes sense anyway. I am able to recycle quite a bit here, too.

    We just helped butcher 75 chickens with our neighbor, and I help my hubby in the winter with deer, so no problem there.

    Looking to install a rain barrel, but don't want to pay for a new one and have it shipped, so watching the paper and freecycle.

    We don't use our gas fireplace much, but our corn burner is our main source of heat in the winter so we don't use as much propane.

    I too would have liked more follow-up on what was really working for her. I think what was more significant than the 271 changes she kept, was the statement, "Certainly, it doesn't feel like I'm keeping up 271 changes..." It shows a change of mindset which is much more likely to be lifelong than challenge long.

    Sarah said...

    # If you are female, would you be willing to stop shaving your legs and/or armpits in the name of environmentalism? Have you stopped wearing makeup?

    I don't shave or wear makeup. It's interesting to me that so many people who are willing to make dramatic changes in their lives are unable to make this one- amazing what our culture-of-beauty does to us! (And what about men shaving their faces?)

    # Do you avoid anything made or packaged in plastic? Would you be willing to forgo products that were?

    I don't avoid all plastic, but use very little. I do make purchasing decisions based on packaging, and buy most of my purchases with no packaging at all (refilling containers from bulk bins, etc.)

    # Would you be willing to butcher your own meat to learn more about the process?

    If I ate it, yes, but i don't.

    # Do you use rain barrels?

    No. I live in an area that rarely has droughts and I use mulch so I don't usually water my garden at all. When I do it's only seedlings, by hand with a watering can, and then I usually use old cooking water.

    # Do you burn wood or eco-logs in your fireplace (if you have one and use it)?

    I prefer not to burn anything, since it's wasteful, but my husband burns wood. I'm not convinced that burning locally sourced wood is worse than shipping eco-logs around.

    Radioactive Duck said...

    I tried giving up shaving for homemade sugaring, but I couldn't stand waiting long enough for my armpits so those get shaved and about once a month or so I'll sugar my legs.

    The only make up I wear nowadays is the occasional lip gloss, and that's almost gone after 2 years. When I dance I use stage make up for the dress rehearsal and performance but that's it. I've always felt that make up drew more attention to my skin flaws than hide them so why bother?

    I'm still working on avoiding plastic. If it's something I need the plastic doesn't stop me.

    Nope, I'm not willing to butcher anything. I have enough problems with food, not need to introduce new ones.

    Rain barrels are something I would like to use, but as I'm in an apartment and don't even have a patio/balcony no can do.

    No fireplace.

    I would have loved to read more about Vanessa's sister's adventures house sitting. One of my favorite bits from the book is when her sister was house sitting and all the shenanigans that ensued.

    motheralice said...

    # If you are female, would you be willing to stop shaving your legs and/or armpits in the name of environmentalism? Have you stopped wearing makeup?
    I'm a lazy shaver anyway, only shave my legs every couple of weeks, armpits-rarely. I only wear eyeliner, mascara, and lip balm. Not willing to give it up, but I use environmentally friendly stuff.

    # Do you avoid anything made or packaged in plastic? Would you be willing to forgo products that were?
    I try to avoid plastic, but I still wind up with a lot.

    # Would you be willing to butcher your own meat to learn more about the process?
    Yes, please.

    # Do you use rain barrels? Looking into it, but would rather make our own than buy a brand new one..

    # Do you burn wood or eco-logs in your fireplace (if you have one and use it)?
    Doesn't work right now, but I'd probably burn local wood. Don't see the point in buying packaged stuff when folks are trying to give me the real deal almost daily.

    # What would you have liked Vanessa to have done during her challenge or have done differently? Were there things in particular that you would have liked a more thorough follow-up on?
    Overall, I'm impressed. That's a huge amount of change to take on in the midst of daily life and the fact that she stuck with some of the changes is great! Not sure I could do it, myself..

    motheralice said...

    Also, Radioactive Duck- What is sugaring? Will it make the hair on my legs go away for longer? Is it painful? Please, please share!!
    Thanks!

    Anonymous said...

    Shave with father old safety razor -- summer only. So sort of to shaving questiong. Wore makeup for about 2 months getting on for 30 years ago. Stopped whensone pointed out that what I was applying as rouge (that's how long ago it was) was infact brown eyeshadow.

    Avoid plastic, do my best, but not entirely. (For one thing, that's how a lot of drugs come,)

    Butcher, you bet -- already can manage fowl.

    Use rain barrels. Have refered to them as water butts, causing much mirth/

    Burn only scrap wood and windfalls.

    Was hard to relate to Vanessa b/c we're starting in such different places, but admire her efforts and results.

    MEA

    Yoga Witch said...

    I have been struggling with the no makeup thing for a while. I've worn less than I have ever worn in years this past summer, and it has been great. Part of me would just love to kick it completely...but I do love to play with makeup from time to time.

    So I'm somewhere in the middle now, wearing just a bit of concealer and eyeshadow day to day...and missing mascara like I can't even describe...

    Amber said...

    I am not willing to stop shaving my armpits, for sure. My legs I might consider, but I have small children and rarely get around to it so I'm not sure it would have a huge impact. I would consider a safety razor, though. And I haven't worn makeup for a long time.

    I avoid plastic where possible. If there is a non-plastic alternative I buy that, even if it costs more. I would be willing to forgo some products, but in general my preference is to just minimize. I'm not giving up milk (that comes in glass bottles with plastic lids) or cheese (wrapped in plastic), especially since I'm not just dealing with myself. I have to consider the needs and preferences of my kids and husband.

    I would be willing to butcher my own meat as a learning exercise. I don't think I'd be willing to do it as a regular thing, although I do buy my meat consciously and opt for humane treatment / minimal packaging.

    I don't use rain barrels, although I have plans to start. I don't use my fireplace.

    I find Vanessa's experiment interesting and inspiring. I'm thinking I would like to do something like this for 2010. Not to the level that Vanessa did, but pick one small change at a time and try it out. It seems like a very manageable way to go about making a positive and lasting impact.

    Cave-Woman said...

    1. I don't shave in the winter or late fall. The weather is so cold and dries out my skin anyway, so shaving is PAINFUL. So, for 6 months out of the year I'm a furry beast. (: I have swapped over to a safety blade to avoid plastic disposables during my shaving months.

    2. I forgo a lot of plastic products, but not as many as I would like. It's a process. I'm getting better about it, but I'm not where I want to be yet.

    3. I've done a little butchering over the years. I wish I could raise chickens here---but I live in the city, so that's a no-go. Best I can do is the CSA thing for poultry.

    4. I wish I could use rain barrels. Our roof is covered in asphalt tiles, so we can't use rainwater for our garden without toxins creeping in. Oh, how I wish we had real ceramic-style tiles. I would love to use a rain barrel.


    5. I'm proud of Vanessa for even trying new things. We can get so stuck in a rut with our routine, and that she ventured out makes me proud of her.

    Aimee said...

    I very seldom shave, I'm just not very hairy and don't mind the hair I do have.Makeup is a once-or-twice a year thing for me. I'm learning to butcher my own meat this fall (already done the chickens) and rainwater collection is next on the list. We are also trying to use WVO to heat the house, but that will robably be a year or two along.

    Eco Yogini said...

    Motheralice: I can answer the 'sugaring' for you-
    sugaring is like waxing, only more gentle for you and the environment. Like waxing it will decrease the time that it takes for hair to regrow (as it takes the entire hair including the root) and hair will grow back thinner and softer (especially over time).
    However, you need to let your hair grow to a certain length in order for it to adhere to the wax or sugar. When I was waxing, (not myself, oh dear I would have sat in the tub to soak it off for sure!) it was recommended that I let the hair grow to at least a centimeter... ummm, less than half an inch?
    so that's why radioactive duck commented that she couldn't handle letting her hair grow between waxings (and neither could I!). :)

    Another option is to use an epilady, which looks like an electric razor, but has these little metal clamps on a rotating wheel that open and shut- pulling the hair out. It hurts like hell (for my low pain tolerance self) but my mother LOVES it.
    I only got through about two inches of my leg before giving up....

    SusanB said...

    I don't shave much, and don't wear makeup . . though I do use "evil" sunscreens.
    We try to reduce plastic but it's not our highest priority.
    I'd be willing to butcher meat but not to eager to do the kill part.
    We love our rainbarrels.
    No fireplace.
    I really would have liked more reflection on what worked and what didn't.

    Jess said...

    1. yes, I have stopped shaving my legs, no I have not stopped wearing make-up, but limit it to mineral powder and blush.
    2. I try to avoid things packaged in plastic, and am beginning to avoid things made with plastic.
    3. yes, I'd love to learn to take a butchering class.
    5. n/a currently, but when we own a house we will have rain barrels

    re:Janelle, I know that the system needs work, but there's a lot of good to be said for grass-rooters like yourself! we can impact change by showing friends/family how easy it is to live a little greener.

    Aydan said...

    I only wear stage makeup, for performing arts events. What I have is organic/natural/etc., but I wear it so infrequently that it's really expensive in terms of cost per use.

    Vacuums: I can't see myself giving up one of those, because of the health benefits. You can never get a carpet really clean, but a vacuum helps (and is a lot better for the environment than steam cleaning, I bet.) If I had (sustainable) wood or tile, though, I'd just sweep and mop.

    Sadraki said...

    I don't shave and I don't wear makeup. I haven't ever worn makeup and other then a brief stint with shaving in high school haven't found a need for that either.

    I attempt heavily to limit my plastic consumption. Some things still get bought though (cheese wrapped in plastic--occasionally bread in plastic, etc.).

    I very rarely eat meat. I have assisted in butchering chickens (about the only meat I eat) in Africa--it was a rather unpleasant experience. I'd rather just eat eggs and beans.

    I live in an apartment so no rain barrel or fireplace.

    I think her challenge is interesting in that she jumps around and doesn't do all the "easy" challenges at the beginning like no paper towels, or other disposables but spreads out some of them.

    Amy Estrada said...

    Shaving? Occasional shaver.

    Makeup? Mineral powder infrequently and the rare mascara.

    plastic? We try our best. Always looking for ways to improve.

    butcher? I'm really torn on this one. I couldn't even dissect for my major! I think if I forced myself to do this- it would be the end of meat for me. Maybe not such a bad idea.

    rain barrels? Nope, apt living. No fireplace either.

    The book was really lacking on explaining the daily challenges. Many were never touched upon and I had to speculate on why 'enforcing a daily quiet time' or 'having an "inside day" every couple weeks' was considered green. Most months left me feeling like there was a lot of fluff to round out many good changes. I loved reading it, but it definitely made me anxious for more info from Vanessa.

    I also have to agree with two points: I would have loved to read more about the sister- she was hysterical! And if you claim you found love in your journey as your title- you should probably detail that a little further for your readers. ",,,there is nothing quite like like falling in love with one of your best friends." This should have been the opening to a few pages on the topic, not the summary.

    Thistle said...

    Oh dear, sorry I'm so late to respond -- it's the stupid film festival here in T.O. and I'm SWAMPED! Just wanted to comment to EcoYogini -- you're very right about my losing steam near the end of the challenge; I just started to feel the whole gimmick aspect of the year, like I was being very constrained by the 366 target moreso than the quality of the changes I was making. At that point, I just wanted to stop doing ALL the changes, and simply do what I felt made a real difference. And to those who wanted more Emma and Jacob -- lots of people have said that, and I can totally understand why; it's just difficult to write about your own family/friends/loved ones when you know thousands of people will read about it... plus, I was worried the book would turn into some mushy love story that I'd be embarrassed to read 10 years down the road. Sorry!

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