Using a reusable tote bag for groceries is one simple way of going green. | Photo: | Going Green, Environment, Sustainability,

Solar? Soapnuts? Bicycles? Green is the new sexy!

I don't necessarily do anything Green, I just do what is right and best for me and if it turns out to be Green, then so much the better. Sometimes I upset people on those rare occasions that I discuss some of my habits. "Aloe vera gel is for sunburns, grapeseed oil is for salads," a lady I know told me. She said you're not supposed to mix the two and scrub yourself with it. Where did I ever get that? Look at this big expensive bottle of papaya-scented frothy green soapy liquid. Wouldn't you rather have that?

No, I wouldn't. I got the idea reading in a forum for homemade natural health and beauty aids and a guy said he scrubs himself with a 50-50 mix of aloe vera gel and sorbolene. I tried the grapeseed oil with the gel and I like it. I don't have to use lotion when I get out of the shower. My skin is never dry or scaly. With liquid soaps, I don't feel clean and I don't like the scents. The lady and I had this discussion when she asked me what I'm using to keep my skin as nice as it is, which, it is. She tells me my hair is so shiny and healthy looking and wants to know what I do. I scrub my scalp with brown sugar. I mix a bowl of aloe vera gel and whatever vegetable or nut oil strikes my fancy. I rinse it in tea or apple cider vinegar. Occasionally I use Green shampoo and conditioner, but not often. She noticed the blackheads I used to get on and around my nose are gone. I mix egg white and powdered oats and let it dry on my face. She's totally "eww." But the blackheads are gone, my skin looks decent, and my hair? Friggin' awesome looking. I tell her she has a psychological aversion which was created and fed by marketing of beauty aids. The aversion dictates that shampoos and soaps must be sudsy and frothy to clean you. She half-heartedly whips out her expensive cologne. I whip out my tiny bottle of Neroli oil.

Replace your petroleum jelly with brazil nut butter. Replace your mineral oil with sweet almond oil.
Some go Green with the intent of saving the planet and demand that everyone else follow suit, placing moral codes that turn people off. Others do it with the same intent and hope that by setting a good example, others will follow their lead. Some do it a little at a time, starting with recycle bins, moving to compost piles, soapnuts, as they can afford it. Those are ones who discover Green actually is cheaper in the long run than non-Green. Still others put little thought into Green and either don't think about it or believe Green is more expensive. The opposite extreme is those who rail, rant and rave about every Green law that hits the books. They start to shake and sweat, grimacing as they speak through clenched teeth about how their rights are trampled on, while blaming every bad thing in their world on evil socialism and liberals, liberals, liberals.

My sister rode a bicycle to work for years. Sun, rain, snow, sleet, construction, road rage--she rode that bike through Hell. She recycles. Is she being Green? She explains the recycling effort to my niece and nephew like this, "We just do it." Nothing else. She explains the bicycle like this, "Once the gas got over $3.00, I said F.T.S., I ain't payin' it." And she slapped on a purple helmet on her head, jumped on her bicycle and sped away.

I came up with the idea for this item when I read AND Magazine contributor Claude Morton's item "Hot or Not" in AND's section "Politics: The Independent." This is what he said in his item about global warming: "So let us stop the debate on global warming, because it's a fact, and let's start talking about the immediate health risks to everyone from breathing in polluted air." I thought, good, someone said what should be obvious to everyone. Statements of the obvious don't hurt anyone.

I'll apply that way of thinking to the Green movement. It's a fact that Green is good, so let's start talking about the health risks, as well as the personal economic effects of, non-Greenness.
Understand that when some people are honest enough to say that they don't care about the planet, they really mean it. When they say they don't think humans can turn the ship around, they really mean it. A good way to punch through that wall is to confront them with their own way of thinking. Their way is that 50 people can't make up for what 50 million people do, that Green is problematic for them while better for everyone but them, and they ask what's in it for them. They just never try to answer their own question.

Once upon a time, the Green movement had somewhat of luxury feel and a lot of moral coding was placed on consumers' buying activity, and it turned a lot of people off. New and different and more expensive things and products to buy were advertised. Soon, more and more people were reading the cleaning products' labels the same way they do the labels on food products. Saturated fat, bad. Sodium level, bad. It's now Parabens, bad. Sulfates, bad. Petroleum jelly, bad. Whole big list of bad. They started donating to groups that go to oil spills and wash off oily birds and rocks.
You don't have to bite your tongue and go Green while throwing a tantrum about your rights. If you were to put that kind of me-me-me thinking into your Greenness, you'd find there's plenty of reasons trying some Green is actually as good for you-you-you as it is for the planet, maybe even better.

I may not know every letter of the Green movement, but it stands to reason that if we in this highly developed country can ask any 11-year-old to customize a cellphone, craft a PowerPoint presentation, and fix an internet connection, then we should be able to ask any eco-crazy college sophomore for all the particulars.

Eco-crazies have a lot of free advice. Take advantage of that. Find one. You might think he wears shoes he wove from strips of hemp cloth and his pillowcase doubles as a tote, but actually you can't pick a Greenling from a crowd. Ask around. He might ride a bicycle everywhere he goes. He might volunteer at the recycle site. Eco-crazy kid looks at your cleaning supplies and points out every chemical and tells you to stop using them because it's poisoning the planet. You tell him you don't really care about the planet, or that you think the planet can handle whatever humans dish out. He is irate and talking about the animals and the fish and as he tears up, something he says sticks in your head. He said something about chemicals, leaching, and groundwater, and you did the math. At some point, you're drinking water that is somewhat poisoned (contaminated), cooking with it and bathing in it. This is where me-me-me kicks in. Drinking contaminated water could hurt you. And it's gross.

On the economic side of the coin, eco-crazy kid looks in your laundry room and educates you about your laundry soap, fabric softener, dryer sheets. He tells you about alternative brands and soapnuts. You roll your eyes, but you think about something he said. He mentioned the number of soapnuts needed per load and you did the math and found the soapnuts are cheaper per load than any of the laundry soaps you've used.

Eco-crazy kid asks you if you've ever heard of loofahs. You show your girlfriend's little scrubby that smells like roses and mangos and make some sexist jokes about why she would spend eight dollars on a bath sponge. The kid talks about his friend's loofah vines and how she spent one dollar on a package of loofah seeds and wound up with more than 80 loofahs. While talking to the kid, you discover that if you replaced every sponge and scrubby in the house with loofahs you grew, you'd save enough money to buy that toilet seat-bidet attachment you've been eyeing.

So, every time you hear something even remotely Green, consider what's in it for you. If you can tear away from Glenn Beck's website, do a Google search for "chemicals in my shampoo" and you might find a website that lists hundreds of brands of personal care products, rated in color code by how very bad they are for you in terms of the chemicals in the brands--oh, I mean'how much they poison the planet. Notice that the Green brand-names aren't more expensive than what you're using, for the most part.

What to do about those mountains of trash? Darn those liberals and their Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra, pushing their agenda on your town commissioners to make recycling mandatory, stepping all over your rights. Guess what? Recycling is the lazy man's way out of taking out the trash. Just look in your full garbage bag sometime. Picture yourself with several trash containers instead of one. You throw the metal cans in one bin and it's a tiny pile. The glass goes in one of two different glass bins and they're tiny piles. The paper pile and plastic piles are also tiny. The newspaper pile is tiny. What's left? The food. Your choices are: throw it back in the garbage bag, use the garbage disposal if you have one, or throw it in your new kitchen compost can. The beauty of this kind of laziness is that you don't take your trash to the curb every week. In some cities, you can leave your recycling at the curb, but if your city doesn't have that and you have to tote your own recycling, you're only toting it six times a year, if that. That's if you don't act like a pig with your consumption. If you do, you're still toting less often than when you were carrying to the curb every week.

In my house, we store foods in glass containers and try to avoid even buying plastics. We buy our cereals in big plastic bags and I use the plastic bags at the grocery store or for toting. The glass is reusable. I save a lot of money using the glass and I can honestly say that I'm not participating in filling the landfills by buying or by throwing plastic away. I've been using the same canisters for years.

Boo-hoo, the recycle center won't take dirty metal, you have to rinse cans before they go in the bin. But no! You rinse the metal because after a week in the bin, the bits of food rot, and it'll stink. See how easy this is? If everyone were to ask themselves "What's in it for me?" and actually put thought into the answers to that question, we might have saved the planet by now.

Darn those liberals and their alternative energy projects! Oh, did someone say going solar will help you get chicks?

Yes. Going Green will help you get chicks.

It's like the AXE commercials, really, so be careful how you whip your Green out. You'll get the really cute chick with the dreadlocks at the oolong tea shop who rides a bike to work and is not impressed with your brand new gas guzzler. After a few months of dating, you learn that she uses a menstrual cup. For a minute you think it's gross, but your training is starting to kick in and you do the math while she talks about the many tons of feminine products in land fills and compliments you on your manly, muscled thighs from biking to work every day. One cup, 30 bucks, lasts 10 years. Box of tampons, nine bucks a month, over 100 bucks year. Go, menstrual cups! Go, Green! Let's save the planet--and get chicks!

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:17 PM EDT | More details


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