Ecoholic columnist Adria Vasil on green strategies for students, blogs for Eco beginners, and more!

Ecoholic columnist Adria Vasil divulges her new years resolutions, green strategies on a student budget, and her favourite blogs for eco beginners.

SDTC: You went to U of T for Political Science and Cultural
Anthropology. What kinds of green strategies did you adopt on a
student budget?

Adria Vasil: I went to U of T for Political Science and Cultural
Anthropology in the 90s and later Ryerson for journalism. The good
news for students is being broke actually lowers your carbon
footprint. You can’t afford all the big purchases that involve bloated
carbon emissions. You might not be able to afford to eat organic as
much as you’d like, but cooking vegetarian isn’t just economical, it’s
the best choice for the planet since meat has a huge carbon footprint.
I stopped eating red and white meat in high school so this one was
easy for me. Cleaning with baking soda and vinegar is another really
cheap green strategy. I started doing that in high school just because
the chemical stuff gave me a headache. By the time I went to Ryerson I
was sewing a lot of clothes from scratch. I really didn’t want to
support sweatshop imports (I was actually working at an anti-sweatshop
org at the time). Even when I didn’t have time to sew, I refreshed my
wardrobe by buying second hand stuff and reworking it on my sewing
machine so that it fit me better. It’s the cheapest, greenest clothing
you can find.

SDTC: A lot of the questions you answer in your Ecoholic column deal
with greening daily activities. Does it ever frustrate you that there
isn’t more action being taken on a larger scale?
Adria: Of course, the big stuff is what has us all banging out heads
against the wall the most. Nothing gives me heartburn like watching
Harper dismantle every environmental move Canada’s ever made and
transform Canada into a global environmental menace. My stomach drops
when I read about more melting in the Arctic, knowing it doesn’t even
make front page news anymore (we’re lucky if it gets a paragraph on
page A18). But I’m also very aware that humans have trouble relating
to large, abstract ideas like global warming and it’s hard to sustain
people’s attention on this stuff when they’re worrying about their
daily lives. My strategy is to get people making smaller moves so they
incorporate them into their daily habits and showing them that that it
makes good sense for them, their wallets and their health to make
those moves. Along the way, as they start living greener lives they
become more engaged in how the world impacts them and how they impact
the world. I also believe that once you start worrying about being
greener, it becomes addictive and can snow ball into wanting to engage
in larger green actions. But you can’t bang people over the head with
a frying pan and say ‘start caring and protesting and give up
everything overnight.’ They’ll just run the other way.

SDTC: How do you convince people that “going green” isn’t just for
tree hugging hippies?
Adria: Green is such a massive consumer trend at the moment that it
doesn’t take much effort to convince people that this isn’t just a
treehugger thing anymore. Of course
then you have to start talking to people about the problem of
greenwash and how a lot of products aren’t really as eco as they claim
to be. But don’t get me started. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

SDTC: What does a typical Thursday look like for you?
Adria: These days, not too exciting. Every day of the week involves
waking up and writing from the moment I get out of bed until 1 in the
morning. My next book is due in a month and there’s no time for much

SDTC: What are your green new years resolutions?
Adria: My new years resolution for 2011 is to slow my food. I tend to
be a twenty minute cook and I want to start making more things from
scratch, doing more raw food cooking.

SDTC: Where are some of your favourite places to shop in Toronto?
Adria: My favourite clothing store is definitely Nathalie-Roze, which
is loaded with cool, crafty locally made stuff fabricated with
recycled and eco-friendly materials. I love Big Carrot because it’s
got a massive selection of organic bodycare products and cosmetics,
not to mention being a coop-run grocery store. Grassroots is great for
bulk refills on green cleaning products and all kinds of random eco
stuff. There are so many great eco-conscious stores in the city now,
both east and west, and I love them all, but these are the three I go
to the most.

SDTC: Any favourite green blogs to help out beginners?
Adria: Treehugger.com is a good daily blog to check. They’ve got a
good list of 50 green blogs for all kinds of tastes and interests. I read
environmentalhealthnews.org every single day to stay on top of enviro
news stories, studies and reports from around the world. Miss a day
and you miss a lot.

~ Kait Fowlie

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