Sunday, October 16, 2011

You can't out-write a writer

Photo by Chris Keane for The New York Times

A few weeks ago, a blogger friend forwarded me an email from a writer for the New York Times who was doing an article about green living in a down economy and was looking for people to interview. Although I really don't enjoy being interviewed, I decided I should take one for the green team, so I sent him an email explaining a little bit about my background - how I first started going green right as the economy crashed and how I discovered that much of green living is actually very affordable or can even save money.

He replied that he was only looking for people who have had to sacrifice their green values out of economic necessity, giving the example of a man who swore he'd never use asphalt shingles on his roof but ended up doing just that when he couldn't afford the more eco-friendly option.

I found his email very off-putting, and I got a little huffy with him in my reply:
To be honest, I think it's an unfair angle to be taking with your story to be looking only for people who have had to compromise their green values during tough financial times without presenting the other side of someone who was able to "go green" during tough financial times. Of course we sometimes have to make compromises when times are tough - even when times are not hard, few of us can afford to put solar panels on our roofs - but living green is more about being conscious than about being perfect. And in many ways, it's all about perspective and how you define "green." These days, I don't always buy organic, but I do shop at the farmers market. I can't afford organic cotton or fair trade clothing, but I can afford to shop at the thrift store. I can't afford to replace my minivan with a more fuel efficient car, but I can use public transportation. I will probably never have solar panels on my roof, but I can turn down the heat. In fact, one byproduct of this economic climate is increased frugal living, and that can be very very green.
The NY Times writer replied:
I agree, and your points are well taken. One of the points I plan to bring up in the piece is that while people may be cutting back on "green commerce," the economy is forcing many to act in green ways, perhaps even despite themselves. Driving less. Gardening more. Turning down the thermostat. Whereas a few years ago, living ecologically seemed to be about buying bamboo sandals. There's perhaps been an evolution in how people view green living, precipitated by the economy.
I read his email and thought, "Amen." And then felt a little foolish for thinking I could out-write a writer from the New York Times. I replied back, "Well said," and wished him luck with his article.

Then he asked if he could interview me.

And that's how I ended up in the New York Times.

Overall, my feeling about the article is kind of "meh." It's not bad, but it's definitely not what I hoped for. And they mispelled Rylan.

(At the Green Phone Booth today, my friend Jenn posted a reply to the NYT article, including some of my own thoughts. Take a look!)


  1. Fun to be included in something like that though. You are famous!

  2. NY Times!!!!! Love the photo. Great comments!

    I say this about my parents - it's hard to tell where their love of the environment ends and frugality starts. They are often one and the same.


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