Occasionally there comes a time to pay tribute to those green influences in our lives. Yeah, I know, we all love Al Gore. My biggest green influence, however, never ran for President or made a documentary or posed for photo ops with Leonardo di Caprio. It's my hubs, Mr. Wiz.
When I first met Mr. Wiz, I recognized right away that he was a crank. You have to understand that coming from me, this is a compliment -- I'm English by heritage and when I lived in London, I frequently visited Cranks, a fabulous vegetarian restaurant. Cranks are people who aren't afraid to hold unpopular opinions. They don't care what other people think. They sing loudly (and often off-key) to their favorite iTunes playlist, especially when they are cooking and the list includes the entire musical output of Abba. They pick up trash in public, bring their own Tupperware to restaurants, and have been known to wear swim trunks with collared dressy shirts. (The ensemble Mr. Wiz sported the day I met him. Thank God I attributed the bizarre sartorial choice to some unexplained wardrobe emergency, and only found out later that he had dressed up SPECIALLY in anticipation of being introduced to me.)
When Mr. W started his green crusade, it wasn't anywhere near as trendy as it is now. He even had roommates who would walk across the room on purpose to throw things in the trash if he threatened to recycle them. Even I had initial disorientation with the idea that he re-uses everything -- he saves every plastic container and bag from the grocery store, washes them, and re-uses them. He saves orange peel to make orange soda. He saves every cardboard box and every piece of packaging for the next time he has to mail something. He makes his own toothpaste and re-uses little glass cosmetic jars to keep it in. One time a Whole Foods cashier had to give him something like 25 wooden donation nickels for the number of re-used bags he brought in.
Annoying? Maybe, for about 5 minutes. Over time, though, I started to think it was pretty cool. This is a guy who's managed to reduce our personal garbage output to one small bag a month -- the rest goes into the composter or recycling bins. And he's not stopping there -- now he wants to reduce our recycling to similarly miniscule amounts.
If you want to be a crank like Mr. Wiz, here are some tips:
1. Buy from bulk containers (at Whole Foods or other shops that carry bulk), and bring your own bags to take it all home in.
2. Get yourself a composter if you haven't already.
3. Buy your clothes at Goodwill. Even better, work at home so you don't even have to wear clothes.
4. Get yourself one of these. We're told they're all the rage in Germany. We call ours the "Zizzer."
5. Stop accepting styrofoam takeout containers. Carry your own Tupperware. Yes, people will look at you funny in restaurants. It's okay, you're cooler than they are.
6. Make presents for people instead of buying them, or give "experiential gifts" like theatre tickets or special outings. Very few people in America really need more STUFF.
6. Whenever you start thinking that it's not worth it, the world is going to hell in a proverbial handcart anyway and you might as well dance on the flames, go plant a kitchen garden with your god-daughter and remember this: it's never a bad thing to keep one more piece of plastic from floating into the middle of the Pacific Ocean.