My Earth Day Evolution

When two vegetarians from Houston visited me in Denver this past weekend, I realized just how much has changed since I lived in Texas. For starters, after more than 16 years, I’m no longer vegetarian, thanks to a soy allergy.  I know there are vegetarians who can’t (or don’t) eat soy, but I just couldn’t make it work. So, when I was teasing my vegetarian friends from the Lone Star State, it brought back memories.

Image courtesy of stock.xchng®

Image courtesy of stock.xchng®

I was 16 when I decided to be a vegetarian and, living in the panhandle of Texas, that was not a popular decision. The teasing – some lighthearted, some mean – was endless and peppered with “jokes” like raw meat in my locker. It didn’t help that I was one of the few students who knew about and celebrated Earth Day. But I was a dedicated (okay, some may say obsessive) Sassy magazine reader and determined to stick up for what I believed in, just like the “Sassy girls” I read about.

After Texas, I lived in Colorado and Seattle (and now back to Colorado), where vegetarianism is far more common. While living in downtown Seattle, I opted to go without a car. I loved those eight years of not owning a car. My commute to work was only one bus ride, which made life very easy. I also had a Flexcar, then Zipcar membership, so I had access to four wheels for grocery shopping and other adventures.

But I was surprised by the reactions of people. The most common question was, do you know how to drive? And when I’d mention a car-fueled trip, people would crack that I must drive like a Driver’s Ed student. Teammates and managers treated me differently, like I was young and fiscally irresponsible. These reactions were especially surprising because they frequently originated from co-workers at a company that prided itself for being more environmentally responsible than most corporations.

Now I own a car and am longer a vegetarian. So what do I do to help decrease my environmental footprint? Here are my top five actions:

  1. Take reusable bags to the grocery store.
  2. Use my car like I did the Zipcar: weekly grocery runs and planning errands rather than hopping into the car each day.
  3. Use rechargeable batteries.
  4. Avoid buying bottled water whenever possible. A reusable water bottle helps.
  5. Writing and editing for companies who are trying to educate consumers. One of my favorite projects was writing a newsletter about celebrities’ efforts to go green. The mission of that project was to show everyone the low-cost and easy steps they can take to decrease their environmental impact.

Happy Earth Day! What are your favorite green efforts?

7 thoughts on “My Earth Day Evolution

  1. Laura, I’m *still* laughing! Oh, I love your mother – and I can just hear her say “the old times.” In thinking more about this, I think Wilma was from California, which is the one place Papa forbade me from going to college. He didn’t even want me to apply to colleges in California. He seemed to think California was full of “weirdos” and no good. I always thought he was thinking about hippies or something. Think Wilma had any influence there? 😉

  2. I do remember Mimi’s gardens!! Those memories were motivation for our garden! I don’t remember the sunflowers!! Those and the cantaloupes will have to be additions to next year’s spring crop. I asked my mom about Wilma’s cotton and she gave me the funnies reply!!! She said, “Well…..I just remember that Wilma was really from “the old times. She used to quilt and grow her on food.” I about wet my pants!! A large number of people I know quilt and garden. HA HA!! Do you think Wilma’s green thumb encouraged her to roll her own “funny” cigarettes?

  3. Liz, thanks for the comment. And for reminding me that I have an essay I should dust off, update and pitch! As for your lawn, isn’t one of the benefits of living in Seattle that you shouldn’t have to water your lawn?!

    Laura, I’m so impressed with the gardening! I had no idea just how many different things you had planted. Mimi would love that. Do you remember her gardens? She had cantaloupes and maybe okra, maybe cucumbers. I’m not sure. But I definitely remember the sunflowers. She would roast the seeds for us on her grill. As for Wilma and her cotton, I have no idea why! She did roll her own cigarettes, maybe she did weave her own cotton! I wonder if your mom or my brother would know?

  4. I am sporting the darkest shade of GREEN I have ever sported!!! Recycling like a maniac and GARDENING like a maniac!! My current tenants include, basil, cilantro, applewood mint, strawberries, 4 heirloom tomato plants and 1 random tomato plant that my precious angel brought home from MDO, purple, chocolate and yellow bell pepers, banana, jalepeno, and poblano peppers (Holla back TEXAS!!)and 2 eggplants. I am currently researching pressure canners and looking forward to starting a new hobby.

    BTW….remember how Wilma used to grow cotton? Why did the woman grow cotton? Did she spin it and weave it?

  5. Um, raw meat in a locker? That is evil. And a good topic for an essay or short story!
    One way I’m being green is by trying to influence my sons to be “green” and stewards of the earth. Sometimes it’ s hard (case in point all the senseless plastic and over-packaging of the gifts my older son received at his b-day party today). Some other ways my husband and I try to be more green: we have re-usable grocery bags, we don’t water our lawn (neighbors must LOVE us by the end of summer), we purchased an electric lawn mower this year, we compost all of our food waste. We can do much more – thanks for this reminder.

  6. You always made me laugh – even at myself sometimes. It’s good for the character. Besides, if life had been “normal,” I’d have nothing to write about.

    I love fish, too. Seattle was a great place for it. Actually, I started eating fish when I moved to Seattle and my best friend’s dad was a fisherman in Oregon. It was a situation of eat the fish, or don’t come back. Best meal from the sea I ever had!

    So you garden and cook. Your wife must love that! And I’m sure there’s no question that you make her laugh.

  7. I hope you know that any teasing done on my part was done innocently and in good fun. I bet the folks who took things too far (honestly, who leaves raw meat in a school locker?) probably have elevated cholesterol levels that would curl your toenails. Texas… the vascular surgeon’s paradise.

    Now that you are no longer vegetarian, what meats do you prefer? I’ve become a real fish lover – I’d take a perfectly seared tuna steak over a porterhouse almost any day of the week.

    As for green efforts, last spring was the first year that I grew a couple of tomato plants and a pot of jalapeno peppers in our backyard patio. Not sure how green it was, but the tomatoes that the birds didn’t get to were juicy and delicious. And the jalapenos that I used for my favorite Latin recipes were perfectly feisty. Can’t wait to start again… hopefully this weekend.

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