Yesterday I reviewed and posted a giveaway of the fantastic book Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson, which is part memoir, part green living, part “laugh until you change something too”. I asked her a few questions about her new book and the challenges she went through while greening her life over a one-year period. Here’s what she had to say:
dkM: Congratulations on your book Vanessa! What made you decide to write Sleeping Naked is Green?
VF: Well, being a journalist means that I’m constantly exposed to all these doomsday stories in the newspaper, magazines, TV and so on, and a couple years ago it was all global warming, all the time. I’m also a film critic, which meant I had to watch these eco-documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth and Who Killed the Electric Car? All of this exposure finally caught up with me and I started feeling as though my values and beliefs about the environment weren’t really in line with my behaviour. I wanted to do something, wanted to make changes, but felt like switching my lightbulbs and recycling more wasn’t enough. Eventually, I came up with this idea of making one green change every day for an entire year — I also decided to keep a blog, tracking all these things, because it was important for me to spread this challenge, get a ripple effect going, and also to have readers offer support, criticism and advice along the way.
dkM: You were open about everything from dating to greening your bathroom habits. What made you decide you wanted to make your changes so public?
VF: If I just made these changes without anyone watching, I’d be successful in reducing my own footprint, but it would end there. The point of making it all public was to get some discussion going, inspire others to make changes in their own lives, and also just to provide this realistic, honest and often skeptical perspective on what it really takes to go green. On top of that, I’ve never been that shy or bashful when it comes to discussing bathroom routines — we all have to deal with the same bodily fluids, so we might as well come together and start figuring out what works best for ourselves and the environment!
dkM: I’m sure you get asked this a lot – have all your changes become permanent? (I’m especially wondering if you still keep the compost bin indoors!)
VF: Definitely not. I’m keeping up almost 75% of the changes I made — still refilling things in the bulk aisles, purchasing eco-friendly products, shopping as locally and seasonally as possible, filling the kettle with the exact amount of water needed, using corn-based kitty litter and biodegradable garbage bags, and on and on — but I’m definitely not using cotton handkerchiefs when I have a bad cold, I’m shaving my legs again, I wear makeup (although it’s all natural stuff), and I probably eat more bananas and avocados than I should. Unfortunately, I had to dismantle the compost bin when I sold my apartment because the real estate agent took one look at it and was like, “Uh, that thing HAS to go!” But I was very careful to pick out all my little worms and give them to my parents for their garden. The other issue is that, in Toronto, we have a weekly pick-up of organic waste for all single-family homes — in the apartment, I wasn’t able to make use of this, which is why I went for the compost bin, but now that the municipal government comes to pick up all my compostable material once a week, I just do that instead (and I think they actually get mad at you if you don’t put your green bin out).
dkM: You’ve still got your blog going (Green as a Thistle), and I’m now a regular visitor there! Any new challenges coming up for you?
VF: Hmm… none that I can think of at the moment. To be honest, trying to keep up a daily blog alongside a full-time job — especially when your full-time job also requires sitting at a computer and typing for hours on end — was pretty exhausting. And the whole self-imposed personal challenge thing can get kind ofgimmicky if you’re not careful. Plus, there are so many new bloggers out there doing stuff like this (I’m thinking of Beth at FakePlasticFish, who’s living without plastic), I kind of want to let them be in the spotlight for a while. I’m still thinking of ways to make Green as a Thistle more interesting, though — but it’s hard! There are so many areas that interest me (food, hygiene, design, politics, health), I can’t seem to narrow it down to any focused sort of discussion. Feel free to offer any suggestions!
Thanks so much, Vanessa! I hope you keep up the blog, and please keep us up to date with any new books in the future. And thanks for challenging us all to live a little greener! I’ve personally stepped up a few things including a slightly more drastic experiment as well, so I thank you for sharing your story and encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and out into the green.