You're not going to upturn your life over night, you need to pick and choose.
Wa$ted! spent some quality time with a fantastic pair of sisters who ran a salon north of New York City, and we came upon the thorny issue of what to do when what you MUST do goes against what you WANT to do, in terms of the environment.
Jackie and Maria run a business, the Selah Salon, so they cannot just stop using certain products or change their ways. Their customers might leave, or they might not be able to achieve the same results. Annabelle and I were challenged to figure out inventive ways to help them lower their carbon footprint.
Luckily, we did, and Jackie and Maria did a great job as a result. With options from oil-spill mats made from human waste-hair to setting them up with a Mindardi Eco-Light system that not only saves them money and energy, but also makes their workspaces significantly better, we managed to lower their footprint while keeping their business model strong.
But there's another issue here, and that is one of balance. As we learned with the salon, you cannot just abandon everything you have been doing and switch to a fully green lifestyle overnight. Along with being expensive, it is impractical.
It is at this point that I would like to admit—a little proudly—that I am the owner of a 1978 Ford Bronco (image above) with engine and chassis upgrades that make it a real brute. Not the greenest car on earth, yes?
I out myself here as a gearhead to show that everyone—even green-lifestyle show hosts—needs to understand and find balance in their lives. And I will use my rip-snorting 351 Midland V8 to help explain.
My grandfather bought the Bronco new in 1978. He got it serviced, or did it himself—I come from good genes—with admirable punctuality for decades. Maintenance and upkeep will make a car a generational purchase, and that's one of the best ways to turn back the carbon-belching momentum of our disposable culture.
My grandfather lives in the mountainous west, where 5-foot snowdrifts on unplowed roads aren't so much a hazard as just a signal that winter's coming.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved that Bronco. I am pretty sure that by the early Eighties I was asking him if I could have it, easily half a decade before I would be legal to drive it.
And one fine day in 2000, he called me and said 'Make an offer.' He didn't just give it away—I come from good genes—but he let me know that he was honoring the promise that he made a hyper ten-year-old to let him have first crack at the Bronco when he himself was done with it.
So we settled on a fair price, and I spent some of my hard-earned money taking a well-cared-for but stock vehicle and making it a powerhouse and a head-turner.
Not sounding too green, are we? Granted. But here's my point: you have to find your balance, and it is personal to everyone.
My grandfather used that one vehicle for 23 years, which is the ultimate form of recycling: don't get rid of it in the first place. No environment-ruining manufacturing and shipping processes were made getting a new car to him every 5 years.
And when he was finally done with it, he didn't junk it or let it rot and rust. He passed it on: recycling within the family, mulching the family tree.
The upgrades I made actually increased the mileage. Yes, I made it rumble and cruise, and the thrust from 70 mph to 100—not that I've ever done that, heh heh heh—is insane. But under normal driving conditions, which is 95% of the time, I've gotten 10% to 15% better mileage out of it.
And I only drive it every once in a while, often when using the kinds of roads or terrain for which is was designed. This is not a commuter car. And when I am not in the Bronco, I am often on my motorcycle, getting around 50-mpg.
So that's one example of my balance. You can have it, too. Consider it a baby step on the road to more sustainable living:
- If you can't upgrade to lower-flow faucets, buy soap from this guy, justsoap.com, who uses recycled packaging, rides a bike to power his mixers, and has a tiny carbon impact in his manufacturing.
- If you can't buy a hybrid or heat your house with biodiesel, drive smoothly to lower your fuel usage and turn the thermostat down three degrees in winter—or better yet, get new digital thermostats that let you program more specifically and save energy throughout the season.
Jackie and Maria still bleach hair when they have to. It is, after all, their business. And for balance, they sweep the clippings, send them to an oil spill, and save the sea gulls and otters with recycled hair mats.
Balance. Get on board.
By Holter Graham
New York, NY, USA | Thu Jul 16 12:00:00 EDT 2009