Is it easy being green? Green author and consultant Crissy Trask says, “Yes!” and her book It’s Easy Being Green (Gibbs Smith 2006) attests to it. Trask maintains that when it comes to earth stewardship, although not everything we can do is easy, so very many things we can do are easy—or certainly not difficult. “It’s just a matter of getting our hands on the information and resources from which we can learn and start to act,” says Trask. To that end, Trask has made it her life’s work to put people in touch with solutions that are both practical and meaningful. Through her book, website, articles and business she strives to “reveal the wisdom, simplicity and accessibility of earth-conscious living.”
We caught up with Trask at her home in Spokane, WA and asked her about her quest to simplify green living for the masses.
Have you always been “green?” No not really, although I was raised to appreciate and respect nature—something I believe made adopting earth-friendly living habits inevitable. My Mom was an especially good role model: It was her instinct to take her kids on nature walks instead of to the city playground and to grow all her plants and vegetables organically—things like that. When Chemlawn would show up to spray our weeds, at my Dad’s request, my Mom would send them away! I like to think I’m more than a little like my Mom, but as recently as 15 years ago, in my everyday life, I wasn’t doing much more than recycling—like a lot of people I suppose.
When did you start to change and start thinking and acting “green?” My awareness of environmental issues and my interest in doing more began to grow as I matured and started reading fewer fashion magazines and more news magazines! I’d say around the mid 90s I just began to get it—that humans weren’t taking real good care of the earth and that earth stewardship was everyone’s responsibility.
How did you decide to make a career out of teaching others to be “green?” As I started to change I also started to really notice how many other people weren’t, and it made me both frustrated and sad. Like when passing by homes in my neighborhood and one after the other would have their outdoor lights on in the middle of the day—everyday! Or when witnessing an overzealous checkout clerk at the market use eight plastic bags for a purchase that would fit nicely into two, or more importantly, why weren’t shoppers using reusable bags?
I started to think of all the reasons people weren’t doing more and I came up with five: 1) people are busy, 2) they may not recognize all their opportunities for improvement, 3) they are uncertain of what to do and how to do it—so they just don’t, 4) they don’t know how to identify earth friendly products or where to find them, and 5) they’re suffering from a lack of good information.
Once I thought I knew why more people weren’t making more of an effort to live green, I started Greenmatters.com, in 1999, to educate and empower those seeking guidance and solutions for simpler green living. Next came my book, It’s Easy Being Green: A Handbook for Earth-Friendly Living, and I’ve recently started a consulting business.
What are some of the things your clients are most surprised by? They are surprised by how much waste they have been tolerating through daily activities. When I point out how much water and energy we consume through common activities, or when overlooking things, and then compare that to what we can save when making some small adjustments, people are stunned. For example, most people turn faucets on full blast every time, but unless you are filling a basin this wastes a tremendous amount of water. Faucet levers should be opened only a quarter of the way for washing and rinsing chores. This will save up to 75% of all water than runs down the sink drain in a day and several thousand gallons a year.
What types of things are they most reluctant to do? To stop buying so much and look to the reuse marketplace, when appropriate, for things they need.
American consumers have a strong preference for new-in-the-box stuff, and they enjoy the instant gratification of driving to the local department store and walking away with just what they want. But many purchases go beyond what we need and defy what is in the best interest of sustainability. Becoming thoughtful, eco-minded consumers takes some discipline, both in the form of controlling our consumer impulses, so we buy less superfluous stuff, and exerting patience while waiting for that white blouse we want, for example, to show up on the rack at a local clothing consignment store.
Do you think you’re making a difference? Absolutely. I’m an educator and a motivator first, a writer and consultant second. By that I mean, I don’t just tell people what to do—that’s just not enough information to get people to change. Besides the “what,” people need the “why” and the “how.” So, I try to give people a deeper understanding of what we, as a whole and individually, gain when living sustainably. Then I help them achieve the changes they want to make by providing solutions and resources that can facilitate their efforts.
What’s next for you? Any new projects on the horizon? Perhaps another book. I’m discussing a couple ideas with my publisher. Writing a book means all my other projects get put on the back burner, but I do want to write more books. I have lots of ideas that will build on the suggestions and information in my first book—helping to make greener living undeniable and super accessible.
To learn more about Crissy’s work, go to www.greenmatters.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.