Jeff Wozer: Guilt Trips From Green Tips


Comedian Jeff Wozer goes in search of advice on how to be green, but just ends up feeling more and more inadequate. If guilt truly is the mafia of the mind then trying to adhere to a strict green lifestyle is the tattooed hit man of self-esteem…

I’m maniacal about turning off lights. I keep the tyres on my car inflated. I give the middle finger wave to fracking wells. I know two people named Sierra. I sometimes wear a bandana as a hat. I celebrate Earth Day. I once dated a girl who enjoyed watching sunsets while chained to bulldozers. I avoid farm-raised salmon. I play Ultimate Frisbee. And I recycle more than I toss out. In a nut, I’m shameless with the Eco Love.

Shameless, indeed.

Yet if, like I did last night, I read one of those internet lists featuring the latest ways on how to be green, I feel guiltier than a condom vendor in Vatican City.

Instead of “Tips on How to be Green” these lists should be entitled “New Ways on How to Feel Bad about Your Selfish Ways You Big Jerk.”

Most green lifestyle suggestions – lowering the thermostat, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, carpooling – are easy to adopt and comply with environmental sensibilities. Yet there are some, not many, that are so scrupulously obscure that they make me feel like a walking BP oil spill. If guilt truly is the mafia of the mind then trying to adhere to a strict green lifestyle is the tattooed hit man of self-esteem.

I enjoy a good bowl of popcorn.Yet I just learned that microwaveable popcorn should be avoided because the bags are lined with perfluorooctanoic acid, a man-made synthetic chemical that’s an environmental ouch.

Last night hunger trumped green conscience. With shades drawn, I sheepishly popped a bag. All I wanted was a snack. But instead of enjoyment, I experienced the burden of wrongdoing, expecting at any moment members of the Sierra Club to kick down my door with steel toe cap boots and whack me across the knees with thick bamboo sticks so as to render me helpless while they ransacked my home in search of my membership card and the complimentary tote bag I received when I joined.

Green remorse

I also learned I should feel green-remorse for not owning or building a home that employs recycled denim. I’m all for sustainable architecture but I don’t know if I’m keen on owning a home that fades after every rainstorm. Or if a visiting niece or nephew punches a hole in the wall, having to visit a building supply store in search of relaxed fit drywall. Or instead of calling a contractor to repair a cracked ceiling, calling a seamstress.

Another guilt bomb: reusable sandwich bags. Until now I thought I was being green-accountable by reusing plastic sandwich bags several times over. But apparently not. Reusable sandwich bags are now the green way to go. They resemble portable back pockets with Velcro and come with washing machine instructions. I’m open-minded, but doing a load of washing to clean sandwich bags comes with honest questions. Like, should I buy a gallon size bag to compensate for shrinkage? And will my sandwiches now suffer from static cling?

And much to my horror I discovered that I’m facilitating worldwide drought by not replacing my lawn or flower bed with rock gardens. According to the author, rock gardens not only save the planet but also save you money on water and lawn maintenance bills. Maybe so, but the idea of gardening wearing a weightlifting belt tempers the appeal.

I once had a neighbour who tore up her entire front garden and replaced it with rocks of varying size, creating the look of a slingshot ammunition depot. It put me in an awkward position when she asked for my opinion. I didn’t know what to say other than to applaud her metamorphic thumb. And when she went to hospital for a short spell, I couldn’t decide on whether to take her flowers or a “Get Well” balloon tied to a pick-me-up pound of rocks.

There were other green tips that surprised me. But rather than share them and add to my guilt, I need to remind myself I am a good steward of the planet. So if you’ll excuse me I’m going to wear a bandana as a hat and check the air pressure in my car’s tyres.

Jeff’s humour articles have appeared in more than 35 publications, including the Explorers Journal, Cabin Life magazine, and ESPN’s When not writing, he spends his time sitting on his cabin deck dressed in tattered shorts and a thick patagonia fleece jacket, brooding about nothing in particular.


Photo Credit: Michael Balint from flickr

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Green comedian Jeff Wozer’s humour articles have appeared in more than 35 publications. Jeff has performed his stand-up on some of comedy’s biggest stages – Red Rocks, Vegas Strip and the Great American Comedy festival. When not writing or performing, he spends his time sitting on the deck of his cabin high in the Colorado mountains dressed in tattered shorts and a thick Patagonia fleece jacket brooding about nothing in particular.