welcome to DEEP GREEN blog!

Greetings! This blog is dedicated to helping you reduce your eco-footprint for personal and planetary benefit.

Although a low-footprint lifestyle is fun and rewarding, it is not always easy, even if you are doing it for your own benefit (for example, to attain financial freedom; to free up your time; to radically simplify your life so you can focus on what really matters to you.) The dominant mainstream culture has waste and hyper-consumerism baked into every layer of life. A person setting out to live light on the earth encounters many obstacles both physical and cultural. (Car-dependent housing developments; unavoidable single-use plastics; buildings designed to require climate control 24-7 … to name just a few.)

That’s where this blog comes in. I’m here to offer you tips, resources, and moral support. The posts aren’t in any particular order; I write about things as they pop into my mind. If you’re new here, you might find it helpful to start by reading these posts:

Cultural Roots of the Eco Crisis

Footprint Isn’t Everything

You could also start by reading my book DEEP GREEN, a concise orderly guide to crafting your own ultra-low-footprint lifestyle. You can read it for free here on this blog; and you can order your own print copy as well.

A final note: I don’t post here every day. I might even go weeks or months without posting. Important as writing is to my mission, it’s only one of my channels for actualizing the “Grassroots Green Mobilization.” Whether or not you see new posts on this blog, I am always active and always here for you. You can engage with me on Facebook or Twitter; you can email or call me; you can enlist me to give a speech, presentation, or workshop for your group.

Enjoy this blog, and thanks for helping me create a kinder, saner, greener world!

Social Media Page Boundaries

This is a Facebook post I made after someone vomited a bunch of racist, sexist, condescending word-salad all over my comment section. I thought I’d post it here too. Feel free to use any of this on your own pages if you find it helpful!

BOUNDARIES

“Good fences make good neighbors.” — Robert Frost

Boundaries for this page and for all my other channels. I also set out to promote these boundaries in the groups I co-admin.

• Condescension is a big no-no. I won’t block people for voicing opinions I disagree with; I WILL block people for persistent condescension, bossiness, sarcasm when used as personal attack, entitled attitudes toward me, my friends, or any of the people/groups I support. Do NOT come on my page making assumptions about me or any of my friends/fellow activists. Don’t tell us what our experience is and don’t tell us what to think. I may try to engage with you if I have time and energy, but if I don’t (or when the time and energy runs out), I will simply block you in order to protect the people who come on here with good intentions.

• We don’t badmouth political parties on my page. We also don’t claim that “our” party is the great virtuous one that will save the world and make things perfect. This goes for ALL parties. Focus instead on constructive criticism or advocacy of policies etc.

• Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, elitism, ageism are not “opinions”; they are evil, immoral pathologies, and people who persist in expressing them and are not willing to listen to feedback & evolve will not be allowed to keep taking up space in my comment section. (These people tend to be “Facebook-only friends” who suddenly appear and start spouting off in my comment section of a civics/policy/social-justice post without ever having engaged with me IRL or on any of my other posts).

• Verbal violence is a form of violence.

• Trans women are women. Special note for my fellow liberal-type older white women who identify as feminists: If you don’t know what a TERF is, google it — and don’t be one.

• These are the main boundaries I can think of right now, but there are surely others and I will add them as I think of them.

• In case you are wondering, YES i hold myself to these boundaries also. And, I have on occasion had to edit or delete my own posts that violated my own ethical standards, and make apologies and amends to people. I’m always setting out to learn, evolve.

Probably if you have read this far and understood, this post doesn’t apply to you. Except that I hope my boundaries help create a space where you all feel safe, loved, and respected. Thank you for being here and endeavoring to engage in nonviolent, productive, creative, liberating discourse. I love and appreciate you!

Compost Basics II

Simplest and most inexpensive compost setup I have seen that is suitable for a typical household. Is highly convenient yet avoids odors; avoids attracting bugs indoors; rodents & other animals outdoors. This setup can easily be customized to your needs & circumstances.

Part 1: Indoor receptacle. Compact with tight-fitting lid. The one I saw is a Tupperware container, square but with rounded corners. Use this in the kitchen to collect your food scraps. Keep in the fridge (or freezer if you like) to avoid smells and bugs.

Part 2: Outdoor receptacle. Barrel with a number of holes about pencil-width in the sides. The one I saw is a metal barrel with lid. It was originally meant as a burn-barrel.

Be sure there’s plenty of carbon / “browns” in the barrel, to balance out the nitrogen / “greens” (coffee grounds, fruit peels, eggshells etc). Both types of ingredients, along with air and moisture, are needed to turn scraps into compost.

If your compost barrel/bin is slimy or smelly, you need more browns in the barrel.

If you live in an apartment, ask your landlord if they are willing to let you do composting (and grow a communal garden with vegetables, fruits, and other good stuff). You might also be able to do this compost setup and a mini garden on your balcony/patio.

Here are pictures of the kind of setup I’m talking about. (These pics will be viewable as long as Zuck’s will shall have it.)

We build our houses on shifting sands …

There are people with multiple houses on the beach that got hit by the storm and lost their seawalls and yards, and are going on TV pleading for millions of dollars in federal aid to rebuild. A guy who owns THREE houses on the beach was saying this.

I wonder how many of these same people think that poor people who need some public assistance with basic everyday needs should “make better life choices” and “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”

Some people are adamantly opposed to public assistance til it’s their turn.

Honestly if any federal bailouts are given I think it should be payouts to get people to vacate. We live on a barrier island and I think maybe it’s time to start letting it revert to its natural state.

I like what my friend K said: “I really think that federal aid for beach houses needs to come to an end. We need a program that helps those who actually live full time in high risk areas to get out if they choose, but rich people should get nothing that’s not from paid flood/disaster insurance that they purchased themselves!”

As a beachside resident (though I’m not beachfront, at least not yet, but may be someday at the rate we are going <wry face emoji>), I have always assumed that at some point, like if the storms and everything keep getting worse, there would be a public move to encourage me & other residents to vacate the island. I take that as something that comes w the territory of living on a barrier island. I cherish my home and every moment i spend here, but i fully get that i might well have to move, and im good w that when it comes.

Wind

Woke up to a cool windy morning. Significant drop in temperature plus gusty breezes.

Wind is not my favorite. Sometimes I try to wall myself off from it. But no matter how deep into a building I go, if it’s windy the wind will find me.

If I can make myself, what works better is to go out for a walk; errands. Be in the wind.

When I get home I still want my calm desk with no papers blowing around, no unsettling sounds of rushing air snaking its way into the deepest innermost crannies of indoors, disturbing my equilibrium.

But, the walk (or bicycle ride) still helps. Voluntarily being out in the wind helps me get over that unsettling feeling of never being able to escape the turbulence and noise no matter how much I coccoon myself.

I can think of some things in my life that this is an analogy or metaphor for.

Later:

This morning as I was out & about on my bicycle doing errands, various analogies from my life popped into my mind. They may not make sense to everyone, but anyway sharing for what it’s worth. Feel free to drop me a line and share your own analogies or ask me questions about mine.

• Trying to shrink the amount of space I take up, to placate roommates (this is way in the past; my housemates the past while have been super cool, but a long time ago I had an apartment-mate who always wanted / “needed” more and more space no matter how hard I tried to innovatively find ways to fit myself and my stuff into less space).

• Trying to present myself as more middle-class respectable to be less offensive to certain people.

• Trying to tone down my “weirdness.”

• Trying to mask feelings of social awkwardness; making an effort to be less dorky.

• Trying to tone-down my environmental communications to make them more palatable to Important Official People.

• Trying to keep my lawn super short and well-manicured so it doesn’t stick out even one centimeter from the other yards. (Actually I don’t really do this since I don’t have a lawn. But many of my neighbors do it and the results are hideous, not to mention incredibly damaging and possibly life-threatening as they undermine stormwater absorption and exacerbate heat-island effects. And, I myself have on occasion found myself trying to do this thing with trimming the vines, shrubbery etc.)

Basically the more we try to shrink, the more of a bottomless pit the monster’s tummy becomes. We can never shrink ourselves enough to satisfy that thing that’s coming for us. And there is no prize for being the biggest incredible shrinking martyr. The remedy is to stand up and own our (reasonable) boundaries, take up our full space of who we are.

Vegetating Skyscrapers; Urban Density with Dense Greenery

I have shared most of these links in previous posts but I wanted to collect them into one post, which I hope will serve as a resource to help us citizens in my city/bioregion prevent the construction of yet another generic, ugly condominium tower on the beachfront. Or or push for truly eco-friendly design of any new building. Maybe we can motivate elected leaders and developers to really care about beauty and ecosystems; we need to help them understand that those things are compatible with making money.

If we let developers build along the coast at all anymore, we need buildings like the ones being shown in these videos, but with sea grapes, saw palmetto, & other vegetation native to our bioregion. This would actually help PROTECT neighborhoods while providing beauty, heat mitigation, and of course housing.

Also if we build on the beach, I say the developers/owners need to keep/make a public access path so the condo doesn’t serve as a hostile barrier to beach access.

60 Condos, 150 Trees, + Wellbeing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX7cSZSp5ac&t=9s Forest condominium in Italy — you have to see this! Video by Kirsten Dirksen (she’s known for her many many videos about tiny homes and other dwellings, and communities, that are integrated beautifully with nature).

Vertical forest in Milan: https://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/project/vertical-forest/ So pretty, and those numbers of trees are amazing! “The Vertical Forest is the prototype building for a new format of architectural biodiversity which focuses not only on human beings but also on the relationship between humans and other living species. The first example, built in Milan in the Porta Nuova area, consists of two towers that are respectively 80 and 112 metres high, housing a total of 800 trees (480 first and second stage trees, 300 smaller ones, 15,000 perennials and/or ground covering plants and 5,000 shrubs, providing an amount of vegetation equivalent to 30,000 square metres of woodland and undergrowth, concentrated on 3,000 square metres of urban surface. The project is also a device for limiting the sprawl of cities brought about through a quest for greenery (each tower is equivalent to about 50,000 square metres of single-family houses).”

The Nature of Cities: Passive cooling & vegetation on skyscrapers & other tall buildings was a major topic at TNOC — The Nature of Cities virtual conference, which I attended back in 2021. https://tnoc-festival.com/wp/#about We saw so many great examples!!

Steep “Hugelkultur” beds can produce for decades without watering or fertilizing: Nicely illustrated article from returntonow.net, about how to turn logs and other yard “waste” into spectacular tall berms that can be used to grow veggies etc. while also building healthy soil and mitigating drought-flood extremes.

In Defense of TikTok

This post is in response to a Facebook meme posted by a fellow Boomer/progressive/white woman. And several other fellow Boomer comments in response.

Boomer Meme: “I don’t know how to use TikTok, but I can write in cursive, do long division, and tell time on clocks with hands … so there’s that.”

Comments were listing stuff like … And drive a stick shift, navigate by the stars, make a fire … Change a flat tire, make change, use the Dewey decimal card file (if there are any left) …

Nothing wrong with listing old skills and feeling a bit of nostalgia; it was the smug condescending tone of the meme and comments that I took issue with.

This kind of attitude I wish we would just stop ourselves from voicing (this is a composite of things I commonly hear fellow Boomers say): “I took xyz in middle school. And learned xyz in elementary. What happened? Students too lazy? … I am proof of teaching a teenager how much money, responsibility, accountability it takes to live. … I was never taught, but learned quickly after college & working for companies … what ROI means.”

I cringe so hard when we Boomers talk about how “we learned the value of hard work” blah blah blah — as if it hadn’t been a million times easier back then for us to get jobs and pay our bills and have plenty left over. Oh, and by “learning the value of ROI” — actually what we did was learn the immensely pragmatic and convenient value of selling our souls to big government and big corporations just to get a fat pension and health insurance or whatever. Gag.

(NOTE! There’s nothing wrong with wanting old-age security, health care etc. Those are basic human rights. But too many of us Boomers went about securing these things only for ourselves, instead of putting our power & energy into dismantling the whole sick system that commodifies people’s basic needs. We threw less-fortunate segments of the population under the bus, and we took for ourselves and ran with it off into the sunset. Now a lot of retired Boomers I know are living jetset lifestyles while the younger generations are having to work miserable jobs at inhumane hours and scrabble for every crumb just to keep a roof over their head, never mind pensions or dental plans and all those rosy things of the past.)

We marched for civil rights, went to Woodstock … then once the 80s hit, we turned into venal bourgeouis yuppies with bland lucrative desk jobs that fattened the vested interests. Jobs that were cushy in exchange for us suppressing our moral beliefs and going amnesiac about the evils of consumerism. (And yet we still don’t hesitate to play the “Woodstock activist cred” card when that comes up. It’s all really quite retch-worthy.)

Back to the TikTok meme comments … As I said above — Nothing wrong with listing old skills; it’s the smug condescending tone that I feel is just so wrong. Like, who do we Boomers think we are?? I totally see why the phrase “OK Boomer” exists!

So, in response to the aforementioned meme and comments, I wrote a comment advocating for TikTok:

Using TikTok is no harder than using Facebook. (And yes, I’m “old” and, same as you guys, I know how to do all the “old” stuff that people are listing in this post here.)

And, all that said — there are some really good reasons to get on TikTok, particularly if you are a fellow white Boomer who considers themself progressive.

TikTok is filled with learning and education. Like no other platform I know of. The trick is you have to proactively curate your feed.

<I removed this spicy paragraph from the version of this post that I posted as a comment on Facebook.> What TikTok isn’t, is dominated by us old white people. Our job on TikTok instead is to listen, learn, open ourselves to growth, and amplify marginalized voices. We don’t get to be bossy, smug, and condescending to young people or anyone else, as we have so often gotten away doing with in pretty much all the other channels of social media and life.<end spicy paragraph>

Anyone who wants to try TikTok, I will be happy to give you a tutorial and show you how to curate your feed. Also, my TikTok profile page is filled with great activist content that I’ve shared over the months.

<Added just now for this blog post>Here is my TikTok profile page for anyone who wants to check out TikTok (I think it’ll let you look at people’s pages without setting up an account, though I could be wrong about that). The URL is https://www.tiktok.com/@jennynazak?_t=8XjWVMIFIoV&_r=1 <end of added paragraph>

Fellow Boomers, if you can use Facebook and Snapchat with your grandkids and email and all that stuff … You can use TikTok. And there are lots of reasons to, if you care about being the change we want to see in the world.

<end of my Facebook comment>

More thoughts:

About Boomer grandparents vs Depression Generation grandparents: My Depression/WWII-generation grandparents taught us things. They taught us knitting, sewing, carpentry, fishing, cooking. They taught us the value of thrift, and we learned it joyfully by spending time in their houses (which were unassuming, were filled with sweet simple knicknacks, AND THE HOUSES WERE FULLY PAID-FOR as opposed to being mortgaged to the hilt for fancy 100K additions and back-to-back luxury cruises and such).

I realize not everyone’s grandparents were as loving, thrifty, happy, versed in cool skills, and overall wonderful as mine. And I realize that not all Boomer grandparents are Wall Street following, carbon spewing jetsetters, and consumer cucks (and this is the just the soi-disant “ecosocial progressive” subset I’m talking about here; not even including the conservative plutocrats who are surely even more of all that). But I do see a generational difference between Depression/WWII grandparents and Boomer grandparents, and am venturing to paint with a broad brush what I have seen and felt for a long time but have only recently begun to be able to put words to. Boomers, we need to be transmitting sound, adaptive skills and values to the younger generations. We’re not going to fix the planet by acting like a bunch of big self-indulgent babies. Our generation aspired to be revolutionaries at one point. Now it seems like we won’t even stand up to our HOAs, let alone stand up to creeping fascism. We need to step it up and not leave the younger generations with such a huge mess.

About deeper feelings underlying what seems to be the smug condescending tone of us Boomers in like every public space: What’s coming across as smug and condescending is surely at least in part motivated by fear. Fear of one’s personal future; fear for the planet’s future. Elderly existential dread at maybe starting to wake up to the realization that we old white people are not the center of things, and that we need to take a seat. (Not that we don’t have a helping role to play — just that we need to be humble enough to listen and take direction.)? When I think of fear and pain and regret as underlying motivators for Boomer smugness, bossiness, and condescension, I can feel understanding and compassion for my fellow Boomers. However, this does NOT let us off the hook! We have a role to play in the revolution even if it’s just sweeping floors and making coffee as opposed to being the “star player” we always seem to get away with casting ourselves as. We always wanted a revolution, right? Well, one is happening right now, and we DO get to be part of it as long as we understand what’s up. We just don’t get to be overbearing dicks anymore.

On that note, I want to bring this post back around to TikTok. My invitation and challenge to you, should you choose to accept it, is to get on TikTok, visit my profile page, and start following the Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color whose richly educational videos I have shared on my page. In particular, start with Portia Noir, White Woman Whisperer, Desiree B Stephens, and Royal Star Defiant. And my further invitation and challenge is that you follow these educators for at least 30 days without commenting at all. Just listen! (Actually, Portia Noir has stated this as a boundary for us white people on her page. Just listen, no commenting. I think I may actually have observed this for 60 days rather than 30, but I wasn’t keeping count. And let me tell you, it’s a profound and necessary experience. It gets us out of the lifelong habit of centering ourselves. And the growth and learning that’s available to us as a result is phenomenal. Prepare to be humbled, prepare to be exhilarated and have your mind blown … and prepare to walk your talk more that you ever thought possible.)

And a side note, about Twitter (since a lot of my fellow white progressive people are quitting Twitter because of the Trumpian Muskian changes): I’m still on Twitter but am taking a page from my TikTok approach: Have begun to more proactively curate my Twitter feed to follow Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color; as well as those of my fellow white people who are genuinely progressive and are on a path of antiracism work / decolonization work.

• One more thing: Boomers, if you’re flying to go see your grandkids four or five or ten times a year, I hate to break the news to you but you’d be benefiting your grandkids more by taking a no-fly pledge. Move to where your grandkids live if you like seeing them that much. Or if you don’t want to move to where they are, help their parents, your grown kids, move to where you are and get set up in business. And then you’ll be there to help their parents with childcare and things around the house. Use some of that fat retirement money to buy your grown kids a commercial building they can make a living off of. Or you could buy them a house. You might be thinking you don’t want to jeopardize your retirement security. But that IS a way to help secure your old-age security. If your investment is tied in with theirs, that’s more power and energy invested together. Immigrant communities in the USA and elsewhere have prospered by applying this principle.

Smartphones

I just now saw a short film called “Behind the Screens.” It’s on Waterbear. (If you don’t have a Waterbear account yet I really really recommend it. It’s like Netflix for ecosocial activists, and it’s free.) Go here to watch the film (I expect you’ll be prompted to set up an account, which as I said is free.)

“Behind the Screens takes view­ers on an immer­sive jour­ney into the peo­ple, places and mate­ri­als behind our every­day obses­sion with the mobile phone. A vis­cer­al doc­u­men­tary that expos­es the com­plex, resource-inten­sive pro­duc­tion process of the device that frames so much of mod­ern-day conversation.”

It’s not that we can’t have smartphones. (Myself, I bought my first iphone in 2009, and a smartphone has become my most important work tool as well as indispensable device for personal everyday use.)

But, a lot of phones get replaced far more often than needed. And there are phones sitting in drawers unused when they could be recycled.

A lot of smartphone shops (at least for iphone, in my experience) will take phones back for reuse, recycling of materials. Also a lot of places sell refurbished phones. The first two iphones I owned were refurbs.

I am now on my fourth phone, which I bought last month after my previous one just got too old, no longer upgradeable to be compatible with apps I need, keyboard started going totally haywire, etc.

This one I actually purchased new. I’m hoping to get years of use from it.

But if I hadn’t just bought a new phone, I’d be seriously looking into something called a Fairphone.

The Fairphone organization is mentioned in “Behind the Screens.” Here is Fairphone’s website. It really looks quite impressive what they’re doing. Raising the bar for the smartphone industry.

The Fairphone 4 runs a version of Android, so there should be no worry about finding apps and that kind of thing. The phone is designed to be easy for users to replace the battery or display just by unscrewing with a standard screwdriver. (“iFixit score: 10 out of 10. The Fairphone 4 has been awarded a perfect score for repairable design.”)

Also the phone comes with a 5-year warranty. Definitely check out the website even if you’re not due for a new phone yet. And do share the Fairphone website and “Behind the Screens” link with people you know; let’s get the word out widely!

OKAY. Now here’s the bad news. Which I only found out after typing this whole entire post. The Fairphone is only sold in Europe. That’s a shame. I thought it sounded too good to be true. Never mind — share this post anyway, and share the Fairphone page and info anyway! Let’s start raising the public’s expectations for the smartphone industry.

And please watch “Behind the Screens”!

Finally, a few tips I’ve gleaned over the years:

• Many phone stores sell refurbished phones that will cost you much less than buying a new one, while still being able to last for years.

• The greenest phone is the one we already have; replace your phone as infrequently as you can get by with.

• If you are fortunate enough to have a good repair shop near you, use them! I’ve been surprised over the years at what’s repairable.

• When you go to get a new phone, turn in your old phone; the shop can recycle its materials, use it for parts etc. Plus you know just as well as I do thst it’s a drag having a cluttered drawer full of old phones, chargers, and other related electronic bits. It’s just depressing plus it’s a waste of space in your home. Take any old phones and related stuff that you are not actively using, and turn them in to the shops or recycling centers.

• Always buy a screen protector and protective case with your phone!! The extra expense will more than pay for itself by saving you expenses of screen breakage, time lost taking the phone to have its screen repaired/replaced, and so on.

Further Exploration

• You might enjoy “Upgrade Renegade,” a post I started in February 2022 when my old phone’s screen cracked on a weekend and I ended up putting off dealing with it, just taped it with a wide piece of clear packing tape. It turned into quite the case study in DIY repair, dogged commitment to postponing purchase, and the shaming that can come from even “eco”-minded people in response to a person resisting the “proper, de rigeur” consumer behavior.