Confessions of a Try-Hard Greenie
Braving torturous temperatures and swarming mosquitoes, intrepid greenie, Juliet Austin, shuns gas guzzling for a week of green living in the Caribbean.
Words by Juliet Austin.
When my Editor, Kyle, suggested experiencing firsthand the challenges of living green in the Caribbean, I naïvely leapt at the chance. Little did I know the challenges that lay ahead. Envisaging what shade of greenie I would be, I had to admit a clandestine admiration for eco-warriors (those feral Cheryls who prostrate themselves in front of bulldozers), but treehugging was thankfully outside my brief. I considered the mantle of Revivalist Environmental Preacher – and while holy rolling held some appeal, these types inevitably disappoint (and drive Hummers). There were always the Granolies… but some soul wrangling compelled me to draw the line at dreadlocks and crystal deodorants. Finally, I settled on the Common Greenie: the everyday Jo(anne) just trying to make this world a better place. Herein lies the diary of Juliet Austin, aged 41¾, try-hard greenie.
(5: 16 am) Up with the birds this morning, windows cast open to the elements – am veritably exuding goodness! Ate fresh papaya, mango and bananas purchased from the Farmers’ Market (no dirty carbon footprints for me), washed down by a cup of delicious Barrington’s Coffee – Fairtrade, of course. Took delivery of new Ovopur water filter… very sleek, I must say. Am paragon of virtue.
(10:47 am) Whoever said, “Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies glow,” obviously never set foot in the Caribbean. Felt in danger of ‘glowing’, so am writing in the shade of my poolside cabana, armed with the nifty Aveda misting spray my sister bought me. Feel very Cannes. Had dip in the pool. Heaven, until guilt set in about the pool pump and chlorine. (Note to self – now that my body is a temple, must explore solar pump and converting to salt water). Love new low-flow outdoor showerhead like never before.
(10:51 am) Am ‘glowing’ like a nuclear reactor and fear melt down. Now understand how Icarus felt. Used whole can of misting spray – long for Koolfog’s supersized version or personal misting cloud to follow me round all day.
Is it wrong to drink organic ice-cold Pinot before noon? Hard to keep positive when my mind keeps drifting back to the A/C. Worried I fantasise about A/C more than adolescent boys do about…. Oh for the love of God! Never realised how many hours there were in a day.
(10:53 am) Enough’s enough. Am precisely five hours thirty-seven minutes into assignment and in need of emergency rethink. Am starting to see why Kermit the Frog’s ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ was such a big hit. Despite best intentions, realise I am more a five-star kind of girl. Have decided to create my own luxury category: the Red Carpet Greenie. Fire up that A/C boys… Mama’s coming home!
(10:56 am) Rapture! Went online (using my Solio charger) and found Fleury vineyard that produces ‘green’ pink champagne! Feeling more keen on green by the second. Ordered couple of cases for delivery. Couldn’t help but notice fabulous Kalamazoo outdoor kitchen so decided to get one of those too – well I need somewhere to store the bubbly. Can’t decide on recycled glass or stainless steel countertops. Wonder which matches my skin tone better? Feel like the Joan of Arc of the Caribbean. (Wait – didn’t she burn at the stake?)
(10:59am) Feel more like my old self again. Seems churlish not to celebrate and use my smart consumer dollars to support a local green restaurant in town. Should probably risk probably life and limb on the local bus but then will definitely perspire. Weighing pros and cons of violent death on roads visà- vis slow demise at the hands of global warming… Wonder if they’ll do an emergency electric car delivery if I play the ‘Roving Reporter’ card? (Can’t blame a girl for trying.)
(11:07 am) Bingo! Take possession of new eco-powered dream car within the hour. Despite barely missing dulcet tones of my air-conditioner or my clothes dryer (it does shake like a geriatric and shrank my favourite top), it seems suddenly morally reprehensible to have a green car and still be using archaic, fossil fuel guzzling appliances. Only right and fair to replace them (and I did see that divine Energy Star rated dryer in candy apple red online…).
(6:43 pm) The sun’s gone down, and even mosquitoes the size of Godzilla can’t dampen my resolve (or contend with my newest gadget: a marvellous Mosquito Zapper). No chemicals for this gal! Am smitten with snazzy new wheels. Think I know how Columbus felt discovering The New World. Just plug it in and charge it like a cell phone. Genius! Sure, it only goes 60 mph, but the speed limit’s 40 mph and this is with zero emissions and no noise. Sang, ‘Life is a Highway’ all the way home.
(7:48 pm) Received sobering email from Kyle with quote from Kofi Annan: “Small islands are microcosms for our world… if we can find solutions to the special vulnerabilities of islands, it will help us address more global problems.” Was wracked with guilt. Felt I was enjoying the whole exercise far too much, so, agonising as it was, cancelled order of exotic snakeskin Jimmy Choos in favour of UniquEco necklace made from flip-flops washed up on East African beaches – all the rage in New York, I’m told. Made appointment to meet solar powered guy tomorrow (well – he’s not solar powered…).
(5:09am) Awoken at ungodly hour by squawking parrots. Last time I saw this hour was 1984 rocking back from a Duran Duran concert at Wembley. Tried taking mind off it by planning new EDUN ‘style-with-substance’ wardrobe to match flip-flop necklace. Have resolved to come clean to Kyle today. Can actually feel my blood pressure rising.
(11:02 am) Proactively took the bull by the horns and ordered poolside massage (and to-die-for personalised facial) with organic herbs, fruits and flower buds (how cute is that?) in preparation for moment of reckoning….
(5:51 pm) Solar guy suggested retrofitting my house to add a nice little soupçon onto the resale value. Was shown all manner of solar powered gadgets including… wait for it… solar powered A/C. Am ecstatic! He’s sending installation team tomorrow, which coincides nicely with arrival of green pink champagne. Time to host a little green celebration chez-moi, methinks. Didn’t quite get to coming clean today.
(9:34 am) Embraced green lifestyle a little too enthusiastically last night and got ‘greenebriated’ with Kyle who swung round unannounced with liquid inspiration in the form of 360 Vodka – a superpremium liquor with an impressive green track record. Considered coming clean but she seemed so happy.
(6:49pm) Did lunch with green goddess, Freya, which has put the proverbial cat among the pigeons. Told her about my obsession with new mean green cooling machine and she started with the… “We live in one of the richest natural environments in the world, standing first in line to suffer the impacts of global climate change. If we could just embrace the old ways….” Pointed out I’d been religiously recycling aluminium cans and applying reef-safe sunscreen when lunch arrived. Laid into grain-fed juicy filet mignon while she nibbled on seared tofu and waxed lyrical about . Clueless, but not about to admit ignorance. Tried to hate her, but she handed me organic chocolate from Grenada, “just to inspire”. Feel devoid of moral fibre – am caught up in web of lies, have looming deadline and am clean out of chocolate. (Note to self: Google www.350.org)
(2:49am) Saw last of the solar guys off at around midnight after new A/C celebration. (Note to self: re-order Fleury Rosé's green champagne.) Feeling a little green round the gills – might just watch TV until it’s safe to get horizontal.
(9:24 am) Overslept as I was enclosed in glorious silence with only A/C humming happily in background. Had Eureka moment last night courtesy of Johnny Depp. Watched ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and remembered reading that our very own Jack Sparrow installed an off-the-grid energy system on his private Bahamian island courtesy of green building guru, Mike Strizki. (Now there’s an island I’d like to be marooned on.) It’s solar-hydrogen powered. Photovoltaic panels turn sunlight into electricity, which is then harnessed to extract hydrogen from tap water ...(you lost me at hydrogen). Runs everything from A/Cs to powerboats for guilt-free living in the lap of luxury. This is the new angle I’ve been praying for. Hoping Kyle will be in awe of creative genius.
(9:38 am) Have felt better, but am riding on wave of euphoria. Going back to bed to prepare mentally.
(4:17 pm) Am basking in green glory and moral rectitude. Explained very matter-of-factly to Kyle that becoming a hermit, dressing in hemp and sacrificing creature comforts is not the sole way of embracing a green lifestyle. Didn’t give her time to respond before suggesting new Johnny Depp scoop as alternative and… she loved it! Having conquered my demons, spent the rest of the day hanging out (quite literally) in my funky NESTREST by Dedon; a luxury cocoon perfectly suited for my green metamorphosis and enjoying the great outdoors. Started reading Bill McKibben’s Eaarth (Freya’s recommendation). Off to write to Johnny Depp now. Wonder if he’ll give me a personal tour of his green fantasy island – all in the name of research, naturally.
This is me, Red Carpet greenie, signing off,
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