Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Color of Souls

I've often joked that black is the color of my soul. If nothing else, it's definately the dominant color in my wardrobe. But it's not the only color vying for my attention. Even when I was very young, green was making itself known to me, hovering at the edges of my awareness.

When I was a child, my mother stayed home with my sister and I, but she felt the quite natural desire to do something more. And so she created Planetwise Products, a small, in-home business to sell eco friendly products. She also gave talks to various school groups and Girl Scout troops to teach them of the importance of taking care of the planet. As with most of her schemes, it fizzled out and now all that remains are a bundle of envelopes with the company logo, and the knowledge that it's important to care for the planet- firmly entrenched in the mind of her eldest child. And hopefully in the minds of a few of the other children she spoke to. Hopefully.

Despite that early lesson, I never really learned the practical aspects of being green. I understood recycling, and that was the extent. And not even recycling everything. I'd carry around an empty plastic bottle all day to take it home and recycle it, but I burned papers and envelopes with mindless glee. It was life with my Dad that really expanded my recycling horizons. Even though he has never openly mentioned pursuing a green lifestyle, Dad is so thorough in his recycling that he actually cuts the plastic windows out of envelopes so that he can recycle the rest, and he sighs when he sees the bag of shredded documents he can't safely recycle. About once a week, he drives the boxes to a central location and dumps his recycling into the bin- no curb side pick-up for him!

This habitual behavior inspired in me a recycling mania. Anything that can be recycled, is recycled. Anything that has parts that can be recycled is torn apart so that as little goes into the trash as absolutely possible. Around this time, I also started cooking more, and lamented what I had to toss out for lack of compost. Sure, an apple core is better in a landfill than a plastic bottle, but it's even better biodegrading in garden soil. Still, trapped in a condo with no garden, I was stuck.

Enter Jackie. I'd known her for a few years, but it wasn't until she and her husband bought their first house that she started to really pay more attention to her green leanings, and, by talking to her, so did I. It didn't hurt that she introduced me to a company that delivered fresh local produce to your door, and the taste was so much better than anything else. Well, it made quite an impression!

Slowly, green is creeping into my life. I'm getting more green cleaning supplies. I'm browing green sites online to see what other waste I can recycle or reuse. What I can do and eat that is healthier for me, my family, and the planet.

And then, then... Jackie suggested planting an organic garden in her yard. A chance to use my kitchen waste! My coffee grounds! To get more fresh veggies than I can possibly cook before they spoil! But if they spoil, they just go back into the dirt to prepare for the next batch.

Even more than dietary rewards, gardening creates the need for the other part of being green- namely, being outside. It's one thing to care about the environment when you only go out in it to walk to your car. It's another when you can't get the dirt out from under your nails! Feeling the earth, smelling it, working with it and eating from it- that's what builds the connection that our modern society works so hard to disconnect us from.

I look good in black, but the fact is that I also look good in green. But... I think that everyone does, really. It's one of those colors, because it has so many different shades.

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