Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sleeping Naked Is Green: Discussion 1

Sleeping Nekkid is GreenVanessa Farquharson doesn't mince words in her book, Sleeping Naked Is Green, when she says that she's no stinky, granola-chomping hippy. So, reading through her book/diary about how she manages to make 366 green changes in her life makes for an entertaining read.

This is the first discussion post of the four I'll be doing on the book, each post covering a season, more or less. So, let's begin! Here comes spring...

March: In March, Vanessa starts off with a bang making some easy, palatable changes like switching to recycled paper towels and toilet paper to more hard-core changes like freezing her butt off when she turns down the thermostat and going car free on the weekends.

During this portion of her challenge, she is definitely concerned with whether or not she can keep up with a daily change and is worried about what her friends and family will think of her. In the early days, Vanessa manages to overcome her fear and regret and plunges ahead anyway. In order to mentally steel herself for the coming days, she allows herself to realize that she could always bail if things become too nuts. Little did she know what was coming.

My only issue with this chapter, and others to come, is that there are a lot of character generalizations that play on stereotypes. Since the book is geared toward a broader audience (rather than to environmentalists), I can see where she would want to distance herself from the "dirty hippy" stereotype. It makes for a funny read, but sometimes it comes off sounding somewhat mean-spirited.

April: In April, Vanessa steps it up by reducing the amount of meat she eats and making sure that it is sustainably raised. In addition, she makes a huge change and turns off her freezer. Well, maybe not so huge, since she didn't have much in it anyway, but nonetheless, she got past the mental hurdle of turning it off which is something most people don't cotton to.

I loved her interaction with the vegan about her opinion regarding beeswax toothfloss and it's ethical ramifications; the story about trying to buy paper towels at the Green Living Show; and the giddiness she has at the thought that Margaret Atwood might, possibly, look at her blog. Classic enthusiasm from Vanessa.

My only problem with this chapter is that when I reread it, it makes me think of Stephen Baldwin. Why, you ask? Because I read it on the plane home from NY and he happened to be sitting several rows in front of me in coach and was taking every opportunity to stand up and be noticed.

May: May's highlights include not using the oven and air-conditioner, switching to natural deodorant, buying carbon offsets for travel, unplugging the fridge and letting that yellow mellow.

It was nice to see that her friends and family were so supportive of her goals that, for her birthday, nobody seemed to give her gifts that would sabotage them. Although it sounds like she wouldn't have minded someone breaking the "rules", it's encouraging to hear that they didn't disregard her project and preferences like so many family and friends do.

When it came to letting her pee mellow, she quickly decided that every other flush or so was preferable to a steeping bowl of stinky pee that generally occurs unless you drink a ton of water, thereby cancelling out the amount being flushed. On the day that she unplugged her fridge, nothing exactly eventful occurred so there's not much reported. Yet. I suspect we'll hear more about it in later chapters.


So far, this book has been highly entertaining and fun to read through. I only wish that there were follow-ups in each section that told us whether she stuck with the change long-term (after her challenge was over) or later found something better that replace the change.

What did you think of the first three chapters?


Joan said...

I've read the whole book and enjoyed it. I do wish she had followed up on some of the challenges. We were left hanging on few of them regarding how those challenges would be continued in the future.
I would recommend the book and look forward to more discussions.

Kate said...

I loved the book and actually couldn't put it down. I think it has something to do with the fact that we are close in age (28) and just recently started my 'green' life overhaul.

I think her humor is snarky (which I like) and reaches a generation that has grown up with similar (dare I say cynical?) views of the world. The support of her family and friends is wonderful. I certainly wish my husband and I received that level of support. We usually just get strange looks.

I do think some of her choices are not practical for people who live different lifestyles than her. For example, living in Oklahoma we have limited public transportation (the closest bus stop is over a mile from my house) and while bikes are fine, I would have to spend more than 3 hours just getting to a farmers market with local produce. Hence the fridge needs to stay plugged in. And the freezer. Plus we buy our meat in bulk (recently from the Oklahoma co-op). Could we live if we turned them off - well, we wouldn't die. But I would rather find other ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

All in all a great first three chapters.

Anonymous said...

I have read the entire book as well and enjoyed it all. I have thought about trying some of the things she has done, no frig, no car, but living with snarky teen types makes it more difficult so enjoyed her deeper eco experience vicariously.


Greenpa said...

Holy Jumping Jehosaphat! where did you get that mug shot?? And why are you off your meds?


Crunchy Chicken said...

Greenpa - As usual, I don't get it.

Eco Yogini said...

I adored the book and also couldn't put it down. What i thought was so refreshing was her sense of balance and realism- most people do think of environmentalists as "hippies", and the "greener than thou" attitude is definitely still present.

i loved her humour, and i loved her small steps. really, out of all of the chapters, the first few were my favourite, it was the later stuff that i had more problems with (if i were to be picky).

Little Green Penguin said...

I've read the book twice now, first for content and storyline, and then for links and references. Being that Vanessa and I live in the same city, her mentions of place by name are very useful for someone who just completed her first month of going green.

Robj98168 said...

I am about up to where you finished here. LOL on the mellowing pee. But like you I wish she had put a follow up on if she still does those changes. She does give me inspiration on giving up the car. On weekends.Maybe.

Amy E said...

I was so excited to get this book that I read it in one day. Like others have mentioned, a list of some kind of what she kept doing would have been nice. I also think it would have been amazing to write about every day- even if it was just short and sweet. I think I would have read it if it was 5X as long! =)

I was also a little turned off by all the hippy bashing. I just moved from Humboldt County, CA to Portland so maybe I am just offended.

Dirt Worshipper said...

I have to agree with everyone commenting about her lack of follow-up on some changes. I've followed Vanessa's blog for a while and was interested to see some of the new content in the book, but I do wish more information had been provided on how she made some of the changes that were not detailed on either the blog or the book. Though I do realize it's not meant to be a how-to-do manual.

Anonymous said...

i finished the book but i agree- i wish she would have let us know which changes she kept up with. she gives some insight at the end but i'd like to know (line by line!) exactly which changes she ditched! LOL!

Radioactive Duck said...

This is one of the very few books that I just couldn't put down (I'm not a big reader). I loved the snarky humor throughout the book. I liked how she wasn't strict about having to abide by the rules all the time, that she would give herself a pass if she was on vacation, get back up and try again if she happened to "fall off the bandwagon" etc. It was also very touching that her family was so supportive of her decisions and didn't try to sabotage her challenge.

Anonymous said...

Yay! Cool! I get to comment on my own book! So exciting to hear everyone's candid thoughts on it... I suppose the only things I'd say are:

1) I agree that I was way too bitchy about all the hippie stereotypes at the beginning -- when I reread the manuscript, I kind of wanted to change my attitude, but eventually decided to leave it in because you can see how it shifts over the course of the book. Those who know me now can vouch for the fact that I've fully embraced the stupid stereotype because I don't care. I freakin' LOVE my Birkenstocks.

2) The frustration readers have at the lack of follow-up should be addressed in the book -- this is partly why I wrote it. When I did the blog, I was only writing about each change on the day that I started it, which didn't give me much room to talk about HOW it was going, whether I'd continue doing it, etc. Sooo... if you keep reading, you'll see that all these earlier changes come up in later chapters. Although I might be talking about change #270, I usually find ways to segue into how change #14 is going, for example. I don't know... the format was something my editors and I kind of struggled with, but hopefully by the end you don't have that "But what happened to such-and-such a change?" feeling.

Turtle said...

i recently read the whole book and enjoyed it. The humor of discovering the new, the challenges she encountered, viewing things through someone new to the way of being green led to not being able to put it down. (had to recharge the batteries in my reading night light!) I grew up in a green household, mostly due to living in the woods and being poor, lol! I married a non green person so it is always a lil bit of a tug of war when doing things...i usually win, smile. Lol at the Steven Baldwin "notice me"!