Green Like Him

**Nathen’s 2009 landfill project has been completed. I’ve moved this post up to the top for the weekend – so you can follow his link, and check out exactly how much trash one really conscientious guy produces in one year.**

My subscription to the New Yorker has lapsed and despite some withdrawal anxiety, I’m cheered up by thinking that I may finally catch up to the current issue.

I am further encouraged by the fact I found somebody on freecycle who is LOOKING for back issues of the New Yorker to send to a colleague in India.

But of course, I am now eking out every last pleasure from my remaining issues: the poetry, the fiction, the Sedaris columns, the cartoons…

And this August 31, 2009 issue, I can’t give up until I’ve listed all the books in the article by Elizabeth Kolbert. “Green Like Me” is a review of a book called 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, but Kolbert manages to excavate a fascinating genre in the process: let’s call it reality-TV-meets-Mr. Let’s-Save-the-World-with-a-self-imposed-environmental-rule.

No Impact Man is a year in the life of a man (and his family) trying to reduce his carbon footprint to NOTHING for one year. Did I mention that he lives in the middle of New York City?

Kolbert refers to a slew of other books of interest: Farm City (one month of eating only food from a backyard garden); Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I know, I know, I haven’t read it yet); Greasy Rider (driving across the USA using used cooking oil for fuel); and Farewell, My Subaru (giving up a car for goats-whatever that means); Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet (self-explanatory, based in Vancouver); Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days (one green resolution a day for a year) – all of which are now on my to-read list.

Despite Kolbert’s criticism (yes, we know that 2 billion people in the world already inadvertently live with lower impact just by dint of being poor), I believe that change has to start somewhere – and where, if not in the minds of people, one at a time around the world. I think that it’s encouraging to see books being written around the concept of a one-year eco-stunt, especially as it reflects a growing trend among people I know.

That is, a trend of growing awareness about our own consumption and trash production. My friends and family are all on that bandwagon; happily ferreting out local grassfed beef and buffalo, raising chickens, growing veggies, buying CSA baskets, sewing our own reusable lunch bags, etc, etc.

For instance, I have had conversations with my sister-in-law about reducing plastic and she referred me to this blog: A Life Less Plastic.

And my friend Nathen has for several years collected all the trash he made for one month and carried it with him. This year he’s collecting all his trash for the ENTIRE year. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with Nathen’s trash project, here’s a link to his landfill page.

And not least, my brother Songbae who is still in the process of reducing the sum total of his worldly possessions to 100 things, like this other guy named Dave did.

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