Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Global Warming Wednesday: Valentine's edition

I have to admit that Valentine’s Day is not the biggest day in our household. Our primary reason is that our anniversary is not far off, and that is ultimately more important to us. It could also do with Trillian’s major (and my minor) aversion to pink. But the over-commercialization of the holiday doesn’t help either. I could pick any number of things to rant about—the insistent gendering that plays on stereotypes and relies on stock phrases like “A diamond is a girl’s best friend,” the crass consumerism that suggests love can be measured in dollars spent, and the suggestion that the holiday cannot be complete without this year’s brand new cuddling teddy bears. OK, I’m going to calm down a little now.

This is not to say I’m against buying thoughtful presents for loved ones. I even feel the need to brag that Trillian has been absolutely wonderful this month, bringing out some small treat for me every few days. The dark-chocolate-covered candied ginger has been particularly welcome.* I also realize that it’s a little late to give you a gift idea; you’ve probably already taken care of the day’s gifts or are hurriedly creating a “This coupon good for...” Nonetheless, I’ve been seeing a lot of gift ideas from both Treehugger and Lighter Footstep, so I thought I’d share them here. No reason not to think about next year or adapt them to other gift-giving occasions.

Both sites deal with traditional Valentine’s gifts and suggest ways of making sure the versions you pick are more eco-friendly. Some that I am filing away for later:
  • Buy organic flowers. Pesticide use is a problem in the industry, particularly with flowers from South America. Workers are exposed to incredibly unsafe chemicals at incredibly unsafe levels. To take this a step further, consider purchasing organic flowers that also have a carbon offset for the distance they’re shipped.
  • Buy fair trade chocolate. Lighter Footstep points readers to Green & Black’s chocolate. And I would like to put in a plug for our current favorite hot cocoa: Cocoa Camino. And if you’re in Toronto, you might want to check out ChocoSol. It’s not organic like the other two, but looks like an amazing program to help Mexican farmers.
  • For a fellow environmental enthusiast, buy a TerraPass. Based on information about your car and your driving habits, you can purchase one of four levels of carbon offsets to cover your emissions for a year. There are also options for flying and the home.

And then Treehugger brings up one area that I hadn’t even connected with my environmental side: How to Green Your Sex Life. Keep scrolling for an amazingly long list of related articles and links.

More than gifts, however, this time of year makes me think about relationships in general. And, given the focus of my Wednesday posts, how to go about making environmentally related changes that will have some effect on everyone in my household.

I am very lucky in that Trillian and I see eye-to-eye on most things, even though we don’t always reach our shared conclusion in the same way. Trillian is very scientific in her approach to most things; while not without emotion, she prefers to focus on the facts. As much as I would like to think I base my decisions scientifically, I follow my emotions more. Sure, I can quote facts and provide a well-reasoned argument to support my stance, but it’s my gut feeling that pushes me to seek out those facts.

One of the reasons I decided to pick one new action each month was that I wanted to set realistic goals for myself. But another was that I didn’t want to commit the rest of my family to major changes. So far Trillian has been completely on board—changing a few light bulbs was no big deal and when I discussed my February action with her, she knew exactly what I was talking about and agreed with my solution (but more on that next week). Yet there are some changes that won’t necessarily work for all of us. In terms of our meat consumption, Trillian has taken the initiative in finding good sources of local, organic meat for us, but when I try to decrease my own intake, that is an individual pursuit and requires some menu juggling. After so many years together, we know how to find compromise on such particulars pretty quickly and when to follow along with the other’s passion. I feel lucky to have her supporting me on this side of the computer screen.


Chris Baskind said...

Thank you so much for mentioning Lighter Footstep!

One thing we didn't use this year is the availability of Fair Trade lingerie. A lot of lingerie product is imported from factories which don't subscribe to labor practices we'd find acceptable in the West, and we'll make alternatives available at the next opportunity.

Mad Hatter said...

BTW, I have become so much more conscientous about upgrading my lightbulbs--I had been doing it as the old omes burned out but only for the standard sized ones. You made me realize that so many of my weird fixtures can now take these bulbs. So, uh, thanks.

Off to go green my sex life now.