You always remember your first. Blog crush that is. My first was probably No Impact Man. I remember reading his blog, and thinking that was incredible to read about someone so committed to the environment. As I took up blogging, I also took up more blog reading. After No Impact Man came Crunchy Chicken. And soon thereafter came Green As a Thistle, a blog by Vanessa Farquharson about her challengicious adventures in living greenly.
Those were heady days ... can it be almost two years ago? I was in my blog honeymoon phase where I read blogs day in and day out, almost amazed at this brand new eco-world that had opened up in front of me. In other ways, the life I had carefully constructed was slowly falling apart. Striking writers picketed outside my office building. The boy in my life was wandering around the Asian subcontinent. I had just become an instant environmentalist due to a bit on the Colbert Report about cashmere goats.
It is possible, in retrospect, that I was cracking up.
These blogs were my lifeline at the time. As I attempted to replot my journey, I consistently turned, every day to the bloggy universe for inspiration. And few blogs resonated more than Vanessa's.
Vanessa, I felt, was like me. And not just because we were the same age. Or because we both lived alone. Or that neither of us had kids in an eco-universe filled with green moms. It was more than that. We both had the same sense of self-deprecating humor. The same, "Oh my God, am I really turning into that dirty hippie?!" flashes of self-awareness. Yes, Vanessa, was a lot like me. Except with better hair.
I adored her blog, shamefully stealing her often ingenious green ideas (see her makeshift bidet.) But most of all, I loved the sense of humor she brought to living greenly. You got the sense, reading her blog, that Vanessa knew she was an eco-nut and revelled in her nuttiness. When her challenge ended, and her daily posting stopped, I mourned along with many of her blog fans.
So when Vanessa published a book, I knew it was a must-read. Of course, it had to wait until after I finished exams, but I finally got around to reading the book last week. Before I started, I briefly wondered whether I'd find the book boring. After all, I've read the entire contents of Vanessa's blog. Would it simply be a rehashing of the blog? A greatest hits collection of posts?
I am happy to report, that in fact, Sleeping Naked is Green is a fun, enjoyable read with very little overlap between book and blog. The blog is a collection of Vanessa's 366 eco-changes. It's more technical and the better read if you need an eco-tip. The book, by contrast, is about Vanessa's personal journey as she embarks on her eco-year. In many ways, Sleeping Naked is Green can be seen as Vanessa's love letter to the environment. It's the story of the lengths a girl with an addiction to Veuve Clicquot is willing to go to in the name of Mother Earth.
Much of Vanessa's journey will be familiar to any eco-blogger. The competitive desire to be the "greenest of them all." The guilt complex associated with screwing up and buying a bottle of water. The "OMFG, my diva cup is stuck and I'm going to have to go to the E.R" freak out. The admonishments from your mom that you're never going to get married if you continue to look like a dirty hippie. As well as the gradual realization that you are having a positive impact on your friends and family. That in your own small way, you are playing your part.
Here's what I recommend. First, if you haven't already, read Vanessa's blog. The whole challenge-filled year from start to finish. Take notes, steal eco-tips, and enjoy. Then, read the book and get the scoop on the personal journey behind the challengicious year. But do it in this order. It's much better that way. Reading the blog and then the book is akin to listening to an album and then watching the VH1 special "Behind the Music." You don't fully appreciate the musician's personal struggles if you don't know the album. Luckily, Vanessa's journey is a lot more pleasant than that of Amy Winehouse's.
As I finished the book, I couldn't help but reflect upon how both of our eco-journeys changed our lives. I think both Vanessa and I were at crossroads in our lives when we began our environmental challenges. Two years later, I think we would both agree that our lives have substantially changed for the better. By engaging in some crazy shenanigans to save the planet, we somehow wound up saving ourselves.
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