Return of The Thistle

“Hey! Long time no anything! How’s it going?

“Oh hey, you! Great, it’s going great. Yeah.”

[awkward pause]

“Do you even remember who I am?”

“Oh my god, totally, don’t be ridiculous. You’re Green as a… um… Green as… *cough*… you know.”

[silent head-shaking]

Well, don’t worry, readers. You may have completely forgotten about your long lost e-friend Green as a Thistle; and in truth, I did say I was finished my challenge, finished the blog and finished being a hippie.

However, much like the pretend early retirements of Cher, Jay-Z and Crunchy Chicken, there really was no way this little blog of mine could just drop off the face of the earth without any sign of resurrection. I went through a year’s worth of intense environmental do-gooding, complete with nervous breakdowns, impulse house purchases, book deals and more — I figured the least I could do was provide some sort of epilogue.

After my big ungreening party, which included bowls full of sour keys and Doritos, whipped cream in an aerosol can, paper napkins, imported beer and lots of incandescent lighting, the first thing I did was have a hot bath. Then I shaved my legs. Finally, I went out for a completely non-vegan, non-local, non-sustainable brunch and walked it off with a shopping trip to H&M and Urban Outfitters, where I bought a pile of clothes that were most definitely not made from organic cotton or bamboo.

It was an indulgent weekend, yes. But as of Monday, I had gotten all this pent-up green resentment out of my system and it was pretty much back to normal. For the past three and a half months, then, I’ve been living as conscientiously as possible without getting anxious about it — this, I like.

Looking through my massive list of 366 changes, I did some calculations and figured out that I’m keeping up with about 271 of them (that’s 74%).

All my food is still organic and local wherever possible but I’m now eating avocados and bananas, as well as drinking imported booze. Coffee and tea are still fair-trade, and eggs, dairy and meat are also organic, free-range, grass-fed, hormone-free, etc. I refill my detergent and shampoo bottles, ride my bike and take public transit everywhere, use my Sigg bottle, portable chopsticks and so on.

Sadly, my fridge is plugged back in. I was really intent on keeping it unplugged because I had such a great experience learning to eat and cook without that stainless steel, energy-sucking beast, but alas, a few items like milk and asparagus and hummus kept creeping in there and in the end, I just left it. I’m still thinking about switching to a mini bar fridge or getting some of those insulating blocks, though.

I continue to only fill my kettle with the exact amount of water needed for boiling and give regularly to Kiva and other green causes and, believe it or not, I still don’t use toilet paper for #1. The temperature on my water heater is turned down and the rubber ball I have from saving all the elastic bands on my newspaper each morning has grown to a pretty hefty size.

What have I given up? Well, I wear makeup again, for starters. I use toilet paper to blow my nose instead of a handkerchief, I don’t make my own toothpaste and my clothes don’t all come from thrift stores. I continue to volunteer with a local green organization but I’m not about to sign petitions and write letters to the environment minister about the seal hunt every single week. I most definitely do NOT take Navy Showers, nor are they lukewarm (although I will still shower in the dark occasionally). I’m back to chewing gum, although I still use “vegan waxed” floss and avoid toothpicks. I tend to use my computer after dinner, unfortunately, however I do keep my television off and haven’t ordered cable again.

Aside from all the green stuff, two big changes:

1) I wrote a book! It’s currently 82,199 words and will come out in Spring ’09 (just in time for Earth Day), and it’s going to be good, I promise — not boring, not preachy, not a redundant How-To guide or flighty piece of chick-lit with phrases like “eco-chic” or “glamorously green.” This is a memoir, it’s funny, it’s honest and hopefully it says a couple smart things here and there, too. Tentatively, it’s called Single Green Female: How an eco-cynic unplugged her fridge, sold her car and found love in 366 days.

2) What’s that, you say? Found love? Yes, yes, it’s true. While I’m still a green female, I’m technically no longer single. One of my best friends, who I’ve known for 15 years (the answers to life are always right under our noses, aren’t they?) ended up becoming more than a friend, and he’s just perfect: green-minded without being neurotic about it, has a social conscience without being holier-than-thou about it, was incredibly supportive during the final, grueling push of my challenge — and he’s cute, too! (He snapped the photo above, by the way, of me sitting with Deni’s brother Alistair on Toronto Island).

Anyway, as I’ve said a million times before, I hate long posts, so I’ll leave it at that for now. But keep me on your RSS feed, your Google Reader, your email notification thingy or whatnot — there won’t be anymore daily Thistle posts, but we could still be friends, right?

So, let the re-greening begin!

UPDATE: So, it turns out the Americans don’t so much like Single Green Female. They like Sleeping Naked is Green. Man, oh man, book titles are not easy, folks. But hey, if you can come up with a better one than either of these, suggest it below, and I’ll dedicate the entire thing to you!

43 Responses to Return of The Thistle

  1. Meadowlark says:

    Glad you’re back. I only noticed because you still happened to be in my feed reader. Otherwise, it would be “gone for good”. And that would be a shame. Peace.

  2. Holy crap, woman! Nice to hear from you.

    Nice firecracker popsicle, by the way! Is that local to Toronto? Ha ha ha.

  3. Lauren says:

    I found your blog two weeks before your experiment ended. Over the last 3 months I’ve adopted many of the changes I first heard from you.

    I still checked in a couple of times of week after your last post, and then I stopped when Arduous put up her blogroll with a time stamp (stating how long it had been since a post). I figured I’d notice when it changed from three months ago to 1 hour ago or something. But it didn’t. Until…I just randomly checked your site to look up something and saw today’s date. No thanks to Arduous’ blog.

    I’m sure I’ll be the first of many to say welcome back.

  4. E to the M says:

    Welcome back!

  5. Pam says:

    Wow, a blast from the past in the ol’ feed reader. Nice epilogue. Sounds like you have found a good balance, and some good fortune.

    I bought a share in a CSA farm this year because of you, and I’m loving it. My mom wants to do it next year after I passed on the info. So, thanks! 🙂

  6. arduous says:

    Lauren, sheesh, don’t blame the blog! It’s listed as updated!! It just sometimes takes an hour or so to register!! 😉

    Congrats, Vanessa! That’s so awesome. I’m so glad to hear from you and that you are doing so well.

  7. It was lovely seeing you pop up on my feedreader this morning. Thanks for the update!

  8. Keepbreathing says:

    Nice to have you back!

  9. JR Enthusiast says:

    I just finished this book and it might interest you. It deals with all five pillars of your life (financial, relational, mental, physical, and spiritual) and shows you how to create true wealth (as in well-being!) in your life. The very practical applications have made a big difference in my life – and could do the same for you.

    Here’s the link:

  10. jiggsKC says:

    when i found your blog i thought it was cute, and interesting, and well optimistic. But as read on and on i was hooked. i use netnewswire a program that i can collect RSS feeds on my mac, and yours became one that i missed after your green move. And what a year! You inspired me to become Greener a little bit more each day. And for that i thank you.

    And then you disappeared. And now your back. Cheers! 🙂

  11. Julie says:

    Yay! I knew it was a good idea to keep your feed in my reader 🙂 Will keep an eye out for your book. I’d love to see more posts from you on green living, even if you’re not doing the challenge anymore.

  12. sillydoggies says:

    Holy crap. Welcome back. I’ve missed your blog.

  13. MorgansMommy says:

    Wow, to find you in my Inbox this morning was a wonderful surprise! Welcome back. So glad to hear from you again. Very happy to hear you’ve found love in this crazy world we live in. Don’t get too many good surprises these days so yours in my mailbox was definitely a good one. Take care, and continue to prosper… Cheers from San Diego!

  14. Glad you’re back! I was a lurker last year, and then you were gone! I missed your daily insights and now I can’t wait to read more about your book and your new adventures. Congratulations on being so lucky in love as well! Cheers!

  15. darci says:

    I love that you’ve kept about 74% of the things your tried.

    Congrats on finding love, hope to hear more on your blog, and can’t wait to read your book.

  16. Matt S says:

    you know, after spending every day for (almost) a year getting to know more about a person, there is a kind of adjustment period that I went through once the posts stopped. I kept having this nagging feeling at 9:15 everyday that I should be learning more about Vanessa and her quest. Needless to say (because I have said it so much), this whole thing was AWESOME. There has been a lot of ripple effect from you to me to everyone I know. Congrats, you’ve probably done more good for the environment than you’ll ever be able to grasp.

  17. Love the lovers with all my heart. And I gotta say that though the love was right under your nose, or maybe our noses, I do take a little bit of pride in knowing that this Healthy Cookie, played a little wee cupid role in the new found love of my favourite Thistle. We both did have quite the year!

  18. Beth Terry says:

    Hi Vanessa! Can’t wait to read your book. Glad to know you’ve found some balance in your green life. Hope you’re still eating ice cream cones!


  19. MamaBird says:

    Hey, you’re back! I only found you a few months before your year anniversary so I am thrilled to “hear” you again. Lookin’ fwd to the book.

  20. Chile says:

    Hey, nice to hear from you again, Veron.., no, Valer…, er, what was it again? Oh yeah, Vanessa! Hey, Vanessa posted!

    Glad to see you’ve kept up with the majority of your changes, although I can certainly understand pluggin’ your fridge back in. Enjoy the house and your boy. And congrats on the book! 😉

  21. Hellcat13 says:

    Sheesh…I got all choked there for a minute! When it popped up on my iGoogle that you had a new post, I literally squawked. Then I clicked on the Thistle site only to find that it was firewalled from work! I got all freaked out and frantic, tried again two minutes later, and all was well.

    At any rate, very good to hear from you. Congrats on finishing the book! I look forward to frantically hunting it down and giving it a place of honour on my desk with my dictionaries and style guides. No random-spot-on-the-bookshelf for it.

    Oh, and you TOTALLY better do a book tour stop in Ottawa. Or I’ll just go to Toronto. Either way, keep us updated 🙂

    Take care, both you and your boy.

  22. just ducky says:

    Everyone is being so polite and gracious and not at all nosy in the comments…but I can’t do that.

    Tell us more about this man! A picture…something? Inquiring minds want to know! I’m very happy that you are so happy…but now I’ve got a bevy of questions!!!

    Your book sounds exciting as well…I’ve got to buy it when it comes out…I started reading your blog just one short month after you began it and read it the whole year through…Now I need to read the summation (in book form) too.

    Great to “hear” from you…(whispering) tell us about the guy…(cough)….

  23. just ducky says:

    Ok Thistle…his name is Ian–isn’t it? And his picture is in the blog history, no? I went back to the previous postings towards the end and spotted him…I thought I remembered a story about a “bestest friend”… My powers of deduction are daunting aren’t they? 🙂

  24. pat farquharson says:

    Ha ha, superlative detective work, but it is NOT Ian!!!!

  25. Kristine says:

    Of course I remember you, Vanessa!

    Wow it’s good to hear from you (and congrats on the love part 😀 ).

  26. river2sea72 says:

    Congrats on all counts, Vanessa! Keep up the good work 🙂

  27. crstn85 says:

    I was checking Arduous’ blog roll to see if anyone updated over the weekend and I was shocked to see some time span counted in days under your name! Thanks for the update and congrats on the book and everything else!

  28. Heather says:

    Yay, Vanessa!!! Congratulations on finding love and finding a balance to the green living. (I am honestly not sure which of those is harder to do!) It’s great to be hear what’s been going on with the Thistle! 🙂

  29. debbie says:

    So glad to see the Epilogue. Have really missed your writing and checked back often just in case. Congratulations on all your discoveries and rediscoveries. We miss you!

  30. Vanessa says:

    Haha, yeah, definitely NOT Ian! But close — his name’s Jacob; he’s good friends with both Ian and me, actually. Don’t think I’ve written about him before in Thistleland, but if you want to check out the very cool work he’s doing in the West Bank, look at 🙂

  31. dinsky says:

    welcome back!! I was happy to see a little blue dot beside your name in my RSS reader 🙂

    Looking forward to your book!

  32. Anna says:

    Welcome back and congrads on finding love and the new book. Maybe more people will life a greener lifestyle to find love too. It could be the next big trend!

  33. Trix says:

    Seriously, that’s what’s the front runner? I like the original title much better. I’ll put my thinking cap on and see if I can come up with anything.

    Good to have you back!

  34. Pretty says:

    As I often find myself doing I type in greenasathistle mid afternoon out of habit and today I was rewarded and am delighted. I feel like this is an online family reunion of sorts. Love it! Miss your Mom though, tell her to write something soon please.

  35. Pretty says:

    As I often find myself doing I typed in greenasathistle mid afternoon out of habit and today I was rewarded and am delighted. I feel like this is an online family reunion of sorts. Love it! Miss your Mom though, tell her to write something soon please.

  36. Zac says:

    I was so glad when I saw the little (1) by your blog!

    Sleeping Naked is Green? I hope that doesn’t win. If this book is all about your challenge than I think that title does you no justice. Hmmm…

    What about:
    Confessions of a Canadian Drama Green
    Not another Green Book
    Green (un)shaven
    Green Break
    Green Sweep
    Green on Me

    OK so those are probably more lame. I will keep trying! Congratulations on finding love!

  37. Mary says:

    WELCOME BACK!!! -ish

    What a great epilog!! I’m thrilled to know what’s going on and girlfriend, you’ve made an impact!

    I continue to admire your bravery and honesty in all this!

    Good luck with everything and keep us posted!

    (And congrats to the new beau, he’s got a winner!)

  38. Lorelei says:

    Great to have you back. I almost removed your blog link from my blog ( You have inspired our office to blog about individual consumers’ concerns. Let me know if you will be doing a book tour – we’d love to have you stop at our show in Boston next April.

    I like the original title better – and I like Zac’s “Not another green book”.

    If I come up with anything good I’ll let you know.

  39. Toby says:

    Well, I guess “Sleeping Naked is Green” would get you some sales… That’s just so ‘marketing.’ I like the original.

  40. Toby says:

    Using the Big Idea method:

    Unleashing the GreenStorm:
    How Simple Daily Changes Save The Planet

    Dynamic changes driven by individuals can enable profound change on a global level.

  41. Claire says:

    Titles for book:

    Dark Green

    Greener than Verde

    Running on Green (Running on Empty)

  42. Cedgewesse says:

    Tahnks for posting

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