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This Green Life
A monthly journal of sorts bySheryl Eisenberg

September 2014

Dear Friends,

After about a hundred issues of This Green Life, I have come to my final, farewell piece.

When I began the column more than a decade ago, most environmental organizations didn't take green living seriously. It wasn't, in their view, a force of change. Nevertheless, they had to respond to members' requests for information on green living, so they started churning the pieces out. The writing typically consisted of simple prescriptions—check your tires, shorten your showers, switch to energy-efficient bulbs—as if members were looking for environmental merit badges when actually they were seeking a better way to live.

I, myself, was seeking a better way to live.

So I thought, why not document my quest in a column, with my reflections and research woven in? At the very least, I felt, it would speak to people. And who could tell, maybe green living, if discussed honestly and well, would prove to be an idea whose time had come.

I proposed the column to NRDC's Membership Director Linda Lopez, who had been thinking along similar lines, and This Green Life was born.

That it would speak to people was confirmed almost immediately by the emails that poured in each month—lovely, thoughtful emails filled with personal stories and observations. I came to think of the writers as friends, and This Green Life as a community.

Living, researching and writing This Green Life turned into one of the important chapters of my life. I grew from the experience.

What I learned over the years, I shared in columns that must have added up to something like a hundred thousand words. So, truly, there isn't much left to say at this point, except perhaps to describe where I am in my journey now.

I have gotten most of the nuts and bolts of green living down. My bags and bottles are reusable. Vinegar is my cleaning solution of choice. My car and most of my appliances are energy-efficient. My home is outfitted with ceiling fans and this summer (a cool one, I admit), we never once resorted to the A/C.

The library provides my husband and me with books, and my daughter reads hers on a Kindle. Our toilet and printer paper is made from recycled material. We write our notes and lists on scrap from the mail.

Our current kitty litter is made of nut shells instead of clay.

Don't get me started on food! I do practically everything "right" in that category to the extent that an omnivore can.

So, good for me. But has the green living movement, which did take off in a small way, done good for the world?

This is not a question that can be answered definitively, but in my opinion, yes. As the cultural and consumer front of environmentalism, it has proven that genuinely green products will sell, even when they cost more. By establishing the existence of a market, it has encouraged businesses to jump in. The great success story, of course, is organic food. But look around and you will see progress in other fields, from solar panels to electric cars.

The movement has also contributed to a change in habits in younger generations that may pay out in a big way over time. One example is the decline in driving among young people.

These days, I am preoccupied with something new—workers' rights. I know some might claim this is not an "environmental" issue, but if the use of neonicotinoids on crops is a concern to environmentalists because of the harm to bees, why not pesticide exposure for farm workers—and if that, then why not unsafe working conditions for clothing workers—or, for that matter, fair wages?

Workplaces are people's habitat and ought to be as safe and life-supporting as forests and rivers should be.

I continue to think the biggest danger to a better world is people's tendency to believe that the way things are is the way they should be. My mantra is: question everything.

If you would like to stay connected with me on environmental topics, you can sign up for my mailing list. I've no idea if or what I may do next, but will let you know.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me and for doing what you can in your own life. We have a special term for that in my faith, Judaism—tikkun olam, or repairing the world.

All my best,

Sheryl

Sheryl Eisenberg

The Green Journey

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Some Favorites from the TGL Archivee


Taking Trees Personally Taking Trees Personally
Home remedies for deforestation
Clean Enough Clean Enough
Safe & natural cleansers
Eating in the Neighborhood Eating in the Neighborhood
Benefits and pleasures of local food
Naturally Cool Naturally Cool
Keeping comfortable without the A/C
Down with Meat Down with Meat
Cutting back—why & how
In the Bay of Whales In the Bay of Whales
I kissed and now I'm telling
My Daughter Saved the World! My Daughter Saved the World!
The importance of animal rescue
Scented Products Scented Products
Intoxicating and toxic
Raising Healthy Children Raising Healthy Children
How to lower environmental risks
Is Environmentalism a Religion? Environmentalism a Religion?
Why religion is both more and less
Ethical Eggs, Dairy and Meat Ethical Eggs, Dairy & Meat
Animal foods without the cruelty
Green Burials Green Burials
In tune with nature—and tradition
Walk Like Thoreau Walk Like Thoreau
The lost art of using our feet
The 4th R: Repair The 4th R: Repair
Waste reduction's missing link
The Ecosystem Within The Ecosystem Within
A new light on sickness and health
Restore the Night Sky Restore the Night Sky
Do your lighting right
Small Homes Small Homes
Downsize your footprint, free up your life
Eat More Fish? Eat More Fish?
The health/environment conundrum
The Beauty of Native Plants The Beauty of Native Plants
Designed by Mother Nature to thrive
Animals Are People, Too Animals Are People, Too
Learning to see wildlife with new eyes


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Sheryl Eisenberg is a writer, web developer and long-time advisor to NRDC. With her firm, Mixit Productions (mixitproductions.com), she brought NRDC online in 1996, designed NRDC's first websites, and continues to develop special web features for NRDC. She created and, for several years, wrote the Union of Concerned Scientists' green living column, Greentips, and has designed and contributed content to many nonprofit sites. Sheryl makes her home in Brooklyn, where—along with her family—she tries to put her environmental principles into practice. No fooling.