Slacking Off for Personal and Planetary Benefit

My favorite green choices are ones that require zero money or extra effort. In a society that worships convenience, being able to offer people such choices is one key to popularizing low-footprint living.

Some green choices are actually easier and more convenient than the mainstream option. For example, I’ve been telling people for a while now that one of the best ways to reduce our energy footprint is to back off on the fussbudget landscaping practices. Mow half as often; quit edging and leafblowing altogether. In other words, be lazy! And now, come to find out, “lazy landscaping” is an actual trend — reported by Southern Living magazine, no less!

Another “lazy” trend I just now heard about: Since the pandemic shutdowns, some people are taking fewer baths and showers — and are liking the results! Less-dry skin; a bit of freed-up time; less consumption of shampoo and other products that come in wasteful plastic bottles.

Now, those of you who love taking baths and showers, I am not trying to spoil your pleasure or hygiene! If you love daily showers, keep on enjoying them. There are plenty of other ways for you to cut your eco footprint. But if you are among the secret tribe of rebels who’ve been bathing just weekly or twice-weekly for some years now, you can take satisfaction in the knowledge that it’s becoming more socially acceptable. We (yes, I’m one of the rebels) don’t have to hide in the shadows anymore!

Not all eco angels are models of asceticism and self-denial. Some of us are just slackers at heart, who have learned to use our laziness as a force for good.

So what are some of your favorite green choices that make a virtue of laziness?

Further Reading:

• “Landscaping trends have gone the way of low maintenance and climate-friendly. ‘Beautiful and traditionally prized flowering plants such as hydrangeas and rhododendrons have fallen out of favor due to the fact that they demand constant watering and maintenance … Roses, while beautiful, require regular pruning and feeding and sometimes spraying.’ … Homeowners are opting for native plants and pollinator gardens over anything that puts further strain on the planet’s natural resources … Over the last few years, between the series of droughts and longer workdays, people have begun to appreciate lower-maintenance style gardens. We may be spending more of our days at home, but that doesn’t mean we have more time on our hands. Homeowners want landscaping options that don’t pile onto their already heavy workloads.” (“4 Landscaping Trends On Their Way Out, According to Real-Estate Agents.” Lauren Wellbank, Apartment Therapy.)

• “…this year gardeners ‘will turn a blind eye to a bit of browning in summer’ and perhaps even swap out grass in favor of embracing ‘lazy’ fuss-free groundcovers. These ‘interesting and environmentally benign alternatives,’ not only stay green without fertilizer, but resist drought and can encourage more wildlife. Unfortunately, while we’ve all learned to love grass, keeping those immaculate green lawns isn’t great for the environment. … lawns consume nearly three trillion gallons of water a year, 200 million gallons of gas (for all that mowing), and 70 million pounds of pesticides. … Replacing a grass lawn doesn’t even require swapping plants. Laying walkways out of gravel or bark, building patios, creating a gathering place around a fire pit, or adding a gazebo also means less lawn and less lawn care. So this year consider a ‘lazy lawn’ that will be easier for you, better for the planet, and just might make the neighbors jealous.” (“‘Lazy Lawns’ Are Topping the Garden Trends for 2021.” Melissa Locker, Southern Living.)

• “Some people said they started bathing less during the pandemic. As long as no one complains, they say they plan to keep the new habit … Robin Harper, an administrative assistant at a preschool on Martha’s Vineyard, grew up showering every day. … But when the coronavirus pandemic forced her indoors and away from the general public, she started showering once a week. The new practice felt environmentally virtuous, practical and freeing. And it has stuck. ‘Don’t get me wrong,’ said Ms. Harper, 43, who has returned to work. ‘I like showers. But it’s one thing off my plate. I’m a mom. I work full-time, and it’s one less thing I have to do.'” … After the British media reported on a YouGov survey that showed 17 percent of Britons had abandoned daily showers during the pandemic, many people on Twitter said they had done the same.” (“See Fewer People. Take Fewer Showers.” Maria Cramer, New York Times.)