50 Shades of Green

There seems to be an incredibly broad spectrum of what people consider green.


Here are a few of my observations:

The yuppie greenie: $30k hybrids, $20k solar panels, $5 boxes of non-gmo, organic mac ‘n cheese.

The hippie greenie: Thrift stores, dumpster diving, veganism.

The homestead greenie: Self sufficiency, living off the grid, the ultimate DIY-ers.

The luddite greenie: Living off the natural ecosystem, lack of permanent residence, hunter/gatherer type.

The no impact greenie: Zero waste, plastic-free, carbon-neutral.


These are obviously over generalizations and over labeling, and most people, such as myself, are in a combination of categories. I personally can relate with the sentiments of each category, and all are noble, but are they sustainable? Can we ask that everyone shell out tens of thousands of dollars for solar panels? Don’t hybrids still promote obesity and sprawl? Can we suggest everyone risk rummaging through a dumpster? Is it likely or even healthy for the mass population to give up meat? Is it possible to have zero waste in a modern world? Can we expect the modern domesticated human to live off the land or isolate themselves in a homestead in the woods?

Most importantly, does the average greenie think about the tradeoffs of their choices?


Let’s look at a different category. A category which is much more doable and scalable by the mass population, as proven with the current popularity of blogs and books.

The simple living greenie: Work/life balance; early retirement; financial independence; part time work; sabbaticals; frugality, minimalism, slow food, slow travel; active transportation; muscle over motor.


What the simple living greenie is not:

The simple living greenie doesn’t make declarations that they can’t keep, such as zero or neutral. They don’t look for expensive alternative technologies and products, but rather reduce. They know they are not perfect. They know that putting too many restrictions on a modern lifestyle can be stressful, draining and sometimes unhealthy. They are not promoting a ‘one size fits all’ solution, because simple living and eco-friendly living looks different for everyone. These are the people who don’t like to label themselves  with any one particular trend or crowd, but rather they make a lifestyle that suits their values.

They care for the environment, but are not doom and gloom or judgmental to others.


What the simple living greenie is:

They know they need stuff in a modern world, and the amount of stuff differs from person to person, but they are designing a modern life to put people, time and experiences before stuff… even ‘green’ stuff. They know that meeting emotional and physiological needs are ultimately more important than either ‘being green’ or the mindless accumulation of consumer goods. They find enjoyment in solving problems by doing, rather than paying. They value purpose over a paycheck.

They know that many people really don’t want to be green, but want to save green and be happier and healthier.


In summary:

They don’t deprive or restrict themselves, but rather choose the simplest, lowest impact lifestyle to create freedom and maximum effect for themselves, not for societal conformity. This is sustainable.


What are your thoughts? Is simple the new green?



8 Ways I use the ‘F’ Word

No, I’m not talking about that F-word, but rather a different four letter word: FREE.

I’ve been told by many people that I am a free spirit. If you ever saw the movie Shawshank Redemption, you might remember when Red said that Andy is one of those birds that just aren’t meant to be caged.

That’s me. I can’t be caged. I used to be caged… caught up in the cycle of cubicle captivity and the commuter curse. Not anymore.

Gandhi was a big believer that simple living is the fastest way to freedom.

I agree. When I started living simply, I realized that I didn’t need a 6-figure salary, so I freed myself.

1. I’m free from the alarm clock. I don’t think it is natural to wake up to literally an ‘alarming noise’ while in a deep sleep. Additionally, waking up while it is still dark is not natural and to keep a good circadian rythm, we should get out into direct sunlight as soon as possible after waking. This is very hard to do with a full time office job. Now, I work on my terms.

2. I’m free from car ownership. When cars first came out and just a few people owned them, then yes, they could signify freedom. But with traffic and urban sprawl, they are now considered a nuisance to many people. Walking is a wonderful activity that, as humans, we need. This is not something that is just recommended, but there is an innate mind-body connection with our gaits and being aware of our surroundings that is important for deep, holistic health. Being free of a car means that I get more than ample time walking outdoors and contemplating. For longer treks, there are planes, trains and rental automobiles.

3. I’m free from the gripping hold of electronics. Yes, I use electronics, and probably too often. However, I try to look at electronics as just another tool for work and entertainment, and I actively try to avoid the plague of constant connectivity. Have you ever seen someone lose a phone? They have a panic stricken reaction like they lost their child. I don’t have a Smartphone and I am not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. A couple of years ago when my contract ran out, I decided to go a year without any cell phone. If someone wanted to reach me, it could only be at home. If my computer needs repair, I go to the library to use the public computers instead of get anxious while it is being repaired. I sometimes write with just pen and paper to give my screentime a rest and simplify my routine. I rarely use my computer on the weekends. I read 2-4 books a week, always in their physical form.

4. I’m free from the gym. I used to be a gym rat for years and years. I would drive the measly mile to get to the gym to go on the treadmill and do weights on my ‘scheduled body parts’ for that day. Then I found authors like Mark Sisson and Katy Bowman. I have now switched over to performing full body functional movements outdoors instead of spending my time and money on equipment that puts our bodies in unnatural positions and isolates muscles. Additionally, movement should be done throughout the day instead of in a one hour power packed session. I may not have the sculpted physique of a bodybuilder, but I have more energy, more strength, more flexibility, more speed, more calmness and an overall feeling of better holistic health and wellness than when I was a gym rat.

5. I’m free from vacations. I can travel the world on my terms. Not, on a 3-week a year basis. I don’t have to ask for permission. I don’t even need “vacations” because I’m not stuck in a mind-numbing job trapped inside for 40+ hours a week. Plus, I get bored with luxury vacations. Instead, I travel for extended periods and plan to volunteer and work overseas for better cultural immersion.  I travel for experience, not to ‘get away from it all’ or to be pampered by the locals.

6. I’m free from stuff. Yes, I still have some stuff, but when I was married to my first husband, we had a lot of toys…. his and hers motorcycles, we each had a road bike and a mountain bike, hiking equipment, camping equipment, hang gliders, airplanes, hot tub, fancy sports cars, etc… I’m not joking. Guess what? I wasn’t happy and we are divorced. Now, I live simply and minimally with my current husband and I am much more content. I can rent or borrow anything I need to have any experience I want in almost any place on the planet.

7. I’m free from my coffee addiction. I used to be one of these people who couldn’t think about anything else but coffee the minute I woke up. It wasn’t even just the caffeine, it was the smell, the percolating sound, the robust flavor, the warmth. It was a habit that I wanted to break. Now, I enjoy myself a cup at a nice cafe, but I don’t need it for energy first thing in the morning. I don’t drink it every day and I don’t drink it at home. I feel much more in control of my consumption now and that is important to me. It is now a treat instead of a ‘need’.

8. I’m free from the (not so) great indoors. Since I work because I want to and not because I have to, I don’t need to be stuck in a cubicle all day. I can get my healthy dose of sun everyday and plenty of exercise outdoors. I have the time and lifestyle that allows me to acclimate to some pretty extreme temperature swings, so I’m not generally stuck indoors in the middle of a heat spell or a winter wonderland.

How anyone can be free: Live simply. Always know when you have enough.

Here is a story I found on the internet:

At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut tells his friend, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history.

Heller said, “Yes, but I have something he will never have: Enough.”

How about you? Are you free? Or does something, someone or a constant want have a hold on you?

Climbing Down the Corporate Ladder

I first heard the term “lattice” replacing “corporate ladder” through The Center for a New American Dream.

Here is what many people experience when they think they want to climb up the corporate ladder: fierce competition, working ungodly hours, office politics, soul sucking cubicles, creativity crushing rules and loss of interest in their work.

Here is what working on the lattice can bring: purpose, value to others, collaboration, working on one’s own terms and exploring talents, skills and creativity to the fullest.

Let me first say that the corporate rat race isn’t like that all the time to all people. And corporate jobs can provide a nice financial backing, but for many people, they want out sooner rather than later.

So, with a small amount of investing, a healthy emergency fund and simple living, people are learning to jump off the corporate ladder to pursue more meaningful work. You can call it early retirement, semi-retirement or financial independence, but the lattice has become my word of choice.

The beauty of the lattice is that it can help those in the corporate rat race jump off sooner, rather than waiting for complete financial independence… or a complete health breakdown.

The lattice can be working part time, freelancing, creative pursuits, working for a non-profit, investing, landlording, tutoring, working overseas, working seasonally, homesteading, fixing or building, coaching … or maybe it is just taking time off between jobs such as sabbaticals or mini-retirements.

The lattice can help us slow down, live more mindfully and reduce our collective environmental footprint.

Living simply can get us off the ladder and over to the lattice much sooner, while enjoying life more.

I do admit though that we have a challenge on our hands with our modern corporate workforce. Many companies want ‘loyal’ full time employees instead of freelancers or part time workers. Employers question gaps on resumes. They seem to want to hire competitive people who want to move up the ladder. I’m hoping the Millennial generation will change this!

What are your thoughts? Do you think the corporations will start to change to offer more flexible working terms?

Where are you at in life? Are you on the corporate ladder, the lattice or FIRE’d?

Is Self Worth the New Net Worth?

Many people like to track their net worth and their expenses on a regular basis. I personally think this is an excellent idea, however, while healthy finances are important, as humans, we generally long for more in life, such as healthy bodies, meaningful communities and a sense of purpose. Sometimes our pursuit of increasing net worth can interfere with these intrinsic values.

So, instead of just focusing on increasing net worth, how about we start by increasing self worth first and then integrate net worth?

Instead of focusing purely on a particular income and comparing ourselves to our peers, could our society value pursuing activities and businesses that bring more purpose to our lives and to the lives of others?

With simple (low cost) living, could we move to a workforce that values part time professionals who have time for healthy eating, exercise and meaningful relationships?

Can we value cooperation over competition?

Can we start to value sabbaticals for creative and meaningful pursuits, instead of worrying about a gap on our resumes?

Can we create “no-brainer” budgets by coveting people, time and creative pursuits over shopping?

Can we find more happiness in volunteering rather than keeping up with the Jones’?

Can we value the conservation of resources and eco-system services over mindless consumption?

Think of it this way: If you knew your time was limited on this planet, would you look back at your life and value the money sitting in your account, or would you value how you made a positive difference in the world? Well, all of our lives are limited, so while it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t build up healthy finances, we need to take care of our intrinsic and physiological needs as well.

How about you? Does your self worth match your net worth?

Flooding Victim: “God said, You have too much stuff”

Below is an excerpt from this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/29/us/texas-storm-floods-clean-up-even-as-rain-still-falls.html?partner=msft_msn&_r=0

“I guess it’s just a sign that it’s time for a change in my life,” said Ms. Sweat, the publisher of a monthly community magazine, The Canyon Lake Views. “God said, ‘You have too much stuff.’ ”

I was a bit taken aback by this statement when my husband first read it to me. If taken literally, I infer that this woman thinks that: (1) God causes intentional harm to make a “statement” and (2) anyone with too much stuff (how is that defined anyway?) is something of a sinner.

However, like many things we say, I doubt this victim’s statement was meant to be taken literally, especially with the preface of: “it’s just a sign that it’s time for a change in my life”.

My interpretation is that she is just feeling that she wants to have more meaning and purpose in her life, besides just accumulating stuff, which unfortunately, is an escalating problem from an environmental, social and financial standpoint.

I once watched TV footage from the aftermath of the tornado and one victim couldn’t stop talking about how upset he was that his stuff was not salvageable, even though others lost their own lives or family members.

So, even though this statement will probably cause her backlash and will likely insult some people, it is still very encouraging to see that, in a disaster, instead of mourning lost ‘stuff’, people are valuing their lives and building community support.

Heartfelt thoughts to those who didn’t survive. 😦

Simple Is the New Green

It has been awhile, but I read a couple of books by two different Journalists: Thomas Friedman, “Hot, Flat and Crowded” and Bill McKibben, “Eaarth”.

NOTE: These are not exact quotes, just what I remember.

Thomas Friedman says something to this effect: It would be great if we had smart grids with solar power and wind energy. And we had smart houses on those grids with smart appliances in those houses. Then, when you are doing laundry and you put your clothes in the dryer, it turns on when it senses there is free, clean energy, because the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.

Bill McKibben then responds with something like this: Well, if the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, why wouldn’t you hang your clothes out to dry?

While I recommend both books as excellent reads, Bill McKibben won the debate in my eyes. True “green” is to reduce first, whenever possible… change mindsets, change behaviors… then substitute with alternatives.

Green consumption is still consumption that comes with many tradeoffs and green technology still provides too much comfort, promoting a rise in obesity, urban sprawl and too much time spent managing, organizing, cleaning and paying for our green products.

Everyone’s lifestyle is different and there is no ‘one size fits all’, but small, continuous changes toward a reduction in consumption, by the mass population, will go much faster and farther than waiting for policy changes and technological advances.

Furthermore, reducing consumption and getting out of our comfort zone doesn’t mean that we are depriving ourselves. The terms “minimalism” and “simplicity” are on the rise because people are finding that simple living is the opposite of deprivation… it can drastically improve health, wealth and happiness.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Plus, when you consume less and consume mindfully, you can spend more money on quality products that are long lasting and that provide real value to your life and your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Now that is sustainable.

What are your thoughts? Who do you think won the debate?

What DO the Joneses have?

It is very easy to look at our neighbors and see things that we don’t have.

Young children are especially susceptible to the idea of “It’s not fair that they have more.”

I once read a comment that the only time we should look to see what our neighbors have is to make sure that they have enough…

Enough food.

Enough warmth.

Enough love.

Tis the Season for Fast Food… Seriously!

Well, it depends on your definition of fast food.

This post isn’t about food that comes in Styrofoam containers from a drive through window. Even though I have done that more times than I like to admit.

It is also not about ‘healthy’ convenience food such as organic, non-GMO, dye free, made-in-a-lab mac ‘n cheese that can sit on a shelf for years, but only takes 3 minutes to cook… Although it is fun to eat on a rare occasion as a cheat food, setting the claims of health food aside.

I’m talking about the original fast food… good ole fruits and veggies. Granted, they take awhile to grow… hence the Slow Food Movement. But Big Ag, CAFO meats and lab made food takes awhile also… and a ton of resources.

I’m not advocating a 100% locavore diet, or any other diet for that matter. Every person has different dietary needs and most of us like to indulge from time to time. I’m just saying that this time of year is ideal to get the original fast food that is super nutritious and very tasty. Not to mention a fun day out!

It is spring time and Farmers Markets are starting to pop up everywhere.

If you can, try to walk there. Or, maybe take your reusable bags. But, most important, take your time. Talk to the purveyors. Ask questions. Revel in the community. Eat some fruits or veggies right there, or on the walk home. Bite into that cucumber, pepper or tomato. Grab a handful of berries. No cutting, dicing, cooking or cleanup needed.

Simple? Yes!

Fun? Yes!

Green? Absolutely!!!!

And folks, this is NOT the time to be frugal! Enjoy yourself. Revel in the physical and emotional wellness of Farmers Markets. We all deserve it.

Go out and support your local farmers. Our long term sustainability of the food system depends on it. Or maybe just grow your own! Your digestive system will thank you and you will be money ahead in terms of real WELL-th!