Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Simple Saturday in the Big City

What a great day today-spent it walking all over Georgetown (I mean that's one benefit of global warming, enjoying a 60ยบ day in November walking around D.C…. maybe?) Needed a formal dress for the big gala in a few weeks and literally tripped (those Georgetown streets are very rocky) over a Second Time Around consignment shop and was able to find something to wear. Opted out of the beautiful brand new red satin Ralph Lauren cocktail dress (original retail: $450, here: $72) in favor of a simple black Jones NY number. (Even simplists have a fashion gene!) Total cost to me? $19.08. Did a quick climb up the 'Exorcist' stairs (oh you think you're gonna make it without losing your breath, but once you're up there you realize how winded you really are! Then despite browsing at the Georgetown Public library, (no national library cards… yet!) headed over to Books for America, a great local used book store that not only sells used books but also used the profits to make donations to local schools, shelters, correctional facilities, etc. etc. Four books in almost as new condition, cost to me? $12.72. Some days the gods of simplicity just shine down and show you the way.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Book Review: No Impact Man

No Impact Man (The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes about Himself and our way of life in the process) by Colin Beavan

I'm a sucker for any book that poses a year-long eco-challenge to itself (See my reviews for: Plenty, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Not Buying It (okay I meant to review this one, but it slipped through the cracks), A Year Without 'Made in China') but what makes Beavan's book unique, is that he combines all of the challenges posed by these other books and tries them all at once. While living in New York City. With a toddler. A grand undertaking indeed. Now I realize there are people out there thinking “what a presumptuous jerk! There are people who live like that every day, not because they want a challenge, but because they have to.” But the issue is that so many people do not want to consider live as he does—eating locally, not driving or taking mass transit, not using electricity (!!), (there was also some note about also not using toilet paper but it wasn't revealed how exactly they went about this). With the title of the book 'No Impact', it's pretty big boast, but on only page 22 he admits that having 'no impact' is actually impossible, but what you learn slowly is that he can lessen his impact so much that he can make up for what waste and destruction he does create with simple actions like picking up litter along the riverfront. He won me over by not only talking the talk but walking the walk. Shutting off the electricity? That's a pretty bold maneuver. Sure I've got the worm bin chewing up my scraps and I can make less than a plastic grocery bag full of trash a month, but this guy washed his own clothes in the bathtub and read by candlelight for months. And that's pretty cool. He's a minor celebrity now, with his blog and his documentary but I'm happy to support anyone who preaches the gospel of needing to simplify your life no matter where you live and finding creative solutions to do so.

Look, I like to consider myself a fairly environmentally sound person (in the grand scheme of things) but I also don't pretend that I'm something I'm not: we all have our vices and that's a great thing about simplicity-it's not about deprivation. It's about being conscious of your actions and not allowing those vices to get out of hand. I love In-n-Out Burger, and I don't want to imagine giving it up, so instead, I use it as a treat, a reward. I also try to keep learning about creating less waste and lowering consumption and staying mindful about my actions. I also am working on my strength as an activist, so that someday I'll convince those In-n-Out folks organic meat and vegetables are the way to go, or to recycle their paper waste, or to have non-plastic options for eat in service.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Book Review: Wake Up and Smell the Planet

Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pomous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day (edited by Brangien Davis with Katharine Wroth)

Finally was able to track down this little book from the editors of (“Gloom and Doom with a Sense of Humor” or “A Beacon in the Smog” I can't figure out which tag line of theirs I like better…and no I'm not reviewing just because it'd be nice for them to return the favor, it's all altruism right now, baby.) Originally published in 2007, it's packed with no-nonsense tips on how to start and get through your day a little greener. Even a crusty old broad like me who has “picked all the low hanging fruit” of environmental tips out there was able to find some peaches in this quick (and very funny!) read. Even came across a few “oopsies” that I'll be getting into in later posts once I get my eco-wagon back on the tracks. And even if you don't have time for another book on your nightstand, check out their daily dispatches at