This day and age “going green” has moved from a mantra among the uber-crunchy to the painfully hip, to where it is practically a fashion trend all its own. Green has become the new black; Everyone is wearing it. But can the average American sustain a truly green lifestyle and reduce their carbon footprint without giving up the frills that make us uniquely American, like Netflix and reliable hot water?
In Farewell, My Subaru Journalist and author Doug Fine jumps in head first to find out just what it takes to “get off the grid”.
“I started my career as a gentlemen rancher naively thinking that raising dairy goats would be easy,” he recounts. “I mean, I’d throw them some hay, breed them and soon enough they’d be giving me hormone-free milk, with enough left over for me to barter locally for things like hay, buffalo meat and massages. How hard could it be?”
In a year-long experiment to wean himself off the bitter teat of oil dependency and live locally, Doug converted a diesel truck to run on grease from local diners, installed solar panels to heat his hot water and power his subwoofers, and inadvertently planted an all you can eat buffet for the likes of deer and ground squirrels in the arid New Mexican desert.
Along the way Doug recounts, in a humor uniquely Long Islander-cum-World-Traveler –cum-Organic-Farmer, how he finds love in his kids (two goats dubbed the Pan Sisters), his community (part “woo woo” hippy, part UN-fearing rifle totters) and successfully finds not just a more sustainable lifestyle free of oil, but also a more sustaining type of satisfaction (minus a few scratches, near death encounters and a possible bribe of a government official via eggs).
Throughout the book, Fine also reveals a slew of surprising facts about the green lifestyle, including a number of facts made to impress at any trivia night (New Yorkers only emit 1/3 the carbon per capita then the average American), insights into what it takes to “go green” , and even recipes you can make at home, such as Grilled Rattlesnake Dijon.
Using all organic, locally grown and hunted ingredients, of course!
This review originally appeared in Real Change, Seattle’s community newspaper that supports local homeless youth.