Saturday, April 1, 2017

Foolish things I've done to be green, 2017 version

It’s April Fools Day, so it's time for my annual compilation of Foolish Things I've Done to be Green!  It's my look back at some of the really foolish, yet very earnest, things I’ve tried in the name of planet protection.  I'll just keep adding to the list each year, and I’m sure I’ll have some new items for 2018!

This year's addition -- a Polar Plunge!  In January, my husband and I jumped into the Potomac River to raise money for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN)!  Thanks to many of your donations, we raised quite a bit of money, and jumping into the river wasn't  quite as bad as I expected.  So let's keep working toward CCAN's motto -- keep winter cold!

Freezing my behind off at a "global warming" event -- I'll never figure out why people schedule climate change rallies in February.  Sure, those of us who understand climate change also understand there's a difference between "weather" (what happens in February) and "climate" (what happens in a decade of Februarys).  But planning climate change rallies in the middle of winter seems to play into the hands of climate change deniers.  Wouldn't it be better to plan these events in August? 

The Invertebrate Shuffle - One of our family traditions is stream monitoring(my kids told me that "spring break in the Bahamas" would be a much better tradition).  Fortunately, I've been training for this activity for over 30 years.  Stream monitoring requires doing the "invertebrate shuffle", which means twisting in the mud for a minute to loosen up all those invertebrates.  I excel at this activity!  I can even add an interpretive touch to the dance!  Sort of like these peacock spiders:

Earth shoes -- OK, they’re not really an environmental item, but this is where it all started for me in the ‘70s.  That “negative heel” was supposed to make me feel close to the earth, but it just gave me muscle strain.  If you really want to wear ugly shoes that scream “I’m crunchy!” just wear Birkenstocks like all of the other greenmomsters out there.

woodsyowl_desireeEnvironmental mascot – this is foolish, yet fun!  During all of my years of dancing, I was always a good technician, yet a lackluster performer.  This situation was due to the fact that I found being in front of an audience to be a little embarrassing.  A good mascot costume solves that problem – all of the fun of performing, with absolutely none of the recognition!  When I was asked to be the EPA “water drop” during 25th anniversary Earth Day celebrations on the Washington DC mall, I couldn’t turn them down.  Then came the pinnacle of my mascot career – Woodsy Owl!  So foolish, yet so much fun!  As Woodsy, I spread the environmental message AND joined in an aerobics demonstration, entertained little kids and the Secretary of Transportation, and danced with abandon in my yellow birdy feet at yet another Earth Day celebration.  To prove my mascot-prowess, I have an official photo of myself (Woodsy). Last April, I added to my mascot resume -- Ranger Rick!  Look for me at Vienna VA's "Walk on the Hill!"

Coconut oil – I decided to decrease my body’s exposure to harmful chemicals found in cosmetics by substituting coconut oil for my usual face cream.  I looked absolutely fabulous, until every pore on my face became clogged, leaving me looking significantly younger.  And by significantly younger I mean I looked like the acne-plagued teenager I once was. 

Natural deodorant – Again, trying to lessen my chemical load.  Been there, done that, got the pit-stained t-shirt.

Visiting the Dismal Swamp after a major flood in August – I’m often referred to as the Julie McCoy of our family, planning all sorts of activities and trips.  One type of trip I love planning is the outdoorsy, environmentally-educational trip.  But there was one time when I ran the family’s Love Boat aground.  I read that the Dismal Swamp in southern Virginia was an absolutely beautiful place – I’ve seen pictures since our fateful trip, and indeed, it is a memorable spot.  But timing is everything in life.  I ignored our friends who mentioned that maybe “dismal” wasn’t a good name for a family vacation spot, maybe right after a major flood wasn’t the right timing, and maybe the mosquito population would be booming in the middle of August.  “Pshaw!” I said.  This was a natural area just waiting to be discovered by me and my family!  We loaded up my then 2 year old son in the hiking backpack and headed into the swamp!  Approximately 30 minutes later, we emerged with our tails between our legs, sweaty and swollen from mosquito bites.  Fortunately, we didn’t catch malaria, I didn’t turn our Love Boat excursion into Gilligan’s 3-hour tour, and there was a nearby reggae festival to help us forget our swamp sorrows.

Vegetarian dog food – Although eating lower on the food chain is better for the environment, my dogs do not care.  They were willing to starve themselves rather than help the environment.  They told me that it’s ok to eat meat for every meal, that we should always DRIVE to the dog park, and that climate change is a totally natural phenomenon.

Using a first-generation recycled plastic garbage bag – OK, the technology has gotten much better, and I do use these bags regularly now.  But sometimes it’s best not to be an “early adopter.”  I learned this lesson when the bag I was using while changing the guinea pig cage exploded all over the rec room.

Indoor composting – Need I say more?  Just because it says it’s a good idea on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.  I bought my composting bin, filled it with newspaper shreds and my worms that I’d bought off the internet, filled the compost bin with scraps and waited for my worms to work their magic!  Well, the magic was the appearance of hundreds of fruit flies filling my entire basement in a blinding cloud.  Just say no to indoor composting.

I just saw a combination bicycle/push mower that’s definitely going to be on someone’s foolish list next year.  
Anyone else have any foolish green adventures you’d like to share?

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