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Black Friday today. In Sweden too. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, for obvious reasons, but Black Friday is now very much a thing. It wasn’t always, but thanks to online shopping, it’s now one of the biggest sales events of the year. Many stores market it as Black Weekend or even Black Week. All in the name of consuming things because they are cheap rather than what you actually want or need.
I have some really special memories of Black Friday, so even though I am not promoting or participating in the frenzy that it has become this year, I also don’t want to pretend that I’ve always rolled my eyes at the madness or that I am better than that.
Some fond memories are from the years when we lived in Pocatello and would celebrate Thanksgiving with Dylan’s grandmother in Buhl. On Black Friday I’d go with the cousins into Twin Falls and shop for Christmas presents and good deals. I don’t remember a single item purchased during one of these outings. Instead, I remember mugs of hot coffee in the car at 6 am. Lunch at busy mall food courts. Laughs comparing stories of crazy customers and grumpy (of course they were) sales staff. Good times with family, basically. I’ve also skied Jackson Hole for free on Black Friday. No complaints there.
So. Do whatever makes you happy. If you feel you want or need something, by all means… But hopefully your Friday is a great day for reasons other than cheap goods. And if you hit the stores, be nice to the people working.
I'm on my way back home after a work trip in and around Rome. We wrapped up yesterday afternoon and the jolly fellas heading to London, the Spaniard and the man residing in Paris, promptly hopped on their flights and were home last night. When you live in northern Sweden, Europe is a lot further away than when you live right smack in the middle of it.
Anyways, I was pondering ideas for this week’s Teddy post. I always am, more or less. The process goes like this: I start out early week with airy and vague thoughts and ideas, then I narrow it down, throw it all out, get desperate. Ask Dylan if he can’t post something instead. Realize it’s Friday, write something. Think I’ll write something better and more sustainability related next week. Repeat. I have been given good tips and ideas on what to write about, but I never have time to do the research. So I have to go with what’s already in my head and fingers.
What’s in my head right now is that Dylan successfully defended his dissertation yesterday. In the eleventh hour, for sure. During this Italy trip we’ve been given an agenda every day, with times and topics (much like any agenda) but the scheduled times have had very little correlation with the actual time of these events. It felt like South America all over again, where I always felt like if you asked for a time, they’d give you one, just cause that’s what you asked for. But no one ever intended to do anything at that specific time.
- What time are we meeting this afternoon?
- I don’t know, sometime after lunch. Maybe.
- Yeah but what time?
- How about…. 2 o’clock?
- Great, see you then!
- See you, bye!
I’m happy because I have a time to plan my day around and they are happy because they managed to give me what I wanted, a number, and now I’m quiet. Needless to say, we don’t meet at 2 o’clock.
On Wednesday, our agenda called for lunch at noon. It was after 1:30 when we headed for the restaurant. There had been plenty of coffee and treats so nobody was starving and none of the Italians seemed at all aware of the time. Whereas the Swede and the Englishmen couldn’t help ourselves, almost compulsively, to point it out. But in the end, we were served a delicious meal and all was good.
(You’re waiting for the connection? here it comes)
Dylan’s dissertation process has been something like that. An Italian agenda with a deadline like the horizon on a cloudy day. You know it’s there but you can’t see it. Until finally, only a few months ago, the clouds were swept away and the horizon suddenly five feet in front of him. But he did it. I am proud of him and I am proud of myself. If his dissertation was a book to be published and actually red by people the first page would read
To my wife, for not losing her shit.
He messaged me after the defense yesterday, and then he sent me a video (of himself saying good morning to the kids, for me to forward to my mom since she doesn’t have messenger). I woke up at 2 am and saw the message and that there was an attached video, and fell back asleep and dreamed that I watched the video and it was of Dylan in a white robe singing in front of a gospel choir praising Jesus that he had finally finished his dissertation. So maybe I am losing it a little bit.
But I will leave you with the image of Dylan singing gospel in a white robe. Hopefully that puts a smile on your face.
Have a great weekend.
We talked trash over coffee at work the other day. And plastics, and cars, and carbon, and mass production over there versus individual efforts to use less disposable straws and plastic grocery bags over here.
On the one hand, of course you should do your part and contribute and be mindful and this that and the other.
On the other hand, why?
Look at China, look at the US, look at Russia. Look at what the industries are doing, and will keep doing, and tell me again to bring my own fabric bag to the grocery store when I buy organic apples, because it will make a difference when stacked up against the umpteenth new Chinese coal-fired power plant.
Yeah. Your actions don’t matter much. Unless you are buying all of Montana. But what is the alternative? Say to hell with all of it and regress to an (even more) wasteful society? I can’t tell the Chinese industry what to do. But I can lead by example and (I wish) tell my kids what to do.
It’s discouraging. But what uphill battle isn’t?
In other news it’s been an intense week with Dylan back in the US and me trying to juggle a busy conference week with single mommy-hood. We’ve had yogurt for dinner more than once. Hair has not always been brushed. Socks have rarely matched. But talking about actions that don’t matter, that stuff definitely doesn’t.
Enjoy your weekend!
No time to write too much this week. I am getting ready to head back to Idaho to try and finish my disseration. We also rented our apartment out on home exchange and so are busy chasing the kids around the in-laws house.
I have been conducting interviews with people about land access issues in Idaho. I will leave you with one of the best quotes so far . . .
“We have to stand together as recreationalists, frankly we have to stand together as public land users” to keep public lands open and accessible. Get involved. Stay active. Keep them clean.
There are efforts to close public access, privatize lands, and put them into hands of people who want to make money. Idaho is an amazing place because of all the accessible undeveloped land. It will only remain that way if people stay active, engaged, and voice their opinions that this is the way the land should remain.
Halloween is over, and so is my green and climate friendly vegan month. I’m celebrating with eggs, condiments and leftover candy. It honestly hasn’t been that bad. But what has made it bearable is the fact that I was always counting down the days. It’s easy to abstain from things when you know it’s very temporary. What’s been hard is eating out for lunch with work, going out to coffee (FIKA!), and being invited to people’s homes for meals or treats.
Except for condiments (I’ve missed being able to use salad dressings, sauces, spice mixes, etc.) it really hasn’t been that difficult at home. Although the vegan cheese I initially claimed was pretty is good now starting to taste like the artificially flavored coconut oil that it is. And I missed eggs.
I was hoping that at the end of a vegan month I’d be all “Oh my skin is clearer than ever, I have all this energy, haven’t been sick once, I feel amazeballs” But no. Not amazeballs. I have an icky cold and non-clear skin.
A lot of people have asked me why I did this. Why try an all vegan diet for a month? Well, because I wanted a challenge and I wanted to do something that felt like a commitment rather than a single action. I also wanted to inspire conversation about different ways to reduce your negative impact on the climate. But as it turns out, in order to inspire conversation you actually have to talk to people… ugh.
Anyways, now I’m pondering new, climate friendly challenges. Any ideas?
The plastic bag. The mother of all things evil. The nucleus of the waste epidemic. The symbol of the lazy, ignorant consumer. When Dylan first formed the Theodores and decided to focus on trash, it was because it’s one of the issues that’s fairly black and white. You can argue that controlled, organic meat consumption is good for the planet. You can argue that electric cars are actually worse for the environment than diesel. You can argue about everything.
But when it comes to trash, garbage, waste… whatever you chose to call it, most people will agree on what it is and where it should not be. Which is important when you’re building something. People may not get onboard and pick up trash, but the Theodores has yet to encounter resistance in form of garbage activists arguing trash should be allowed to remain on the ground.
Keeping it simple is key if you want people to listen and pay attention. People scrolling through Facebook looking for ways to pimp their karma like to be told what to do, they don’t like lengthy arguments of pros and cons and having to make up their own mind. Garbage is bad. Easy. Plastic bags are bad. Anyone disagree? Didn’t think so.
In Sweden you, as a consumer, have to pay for plastic bags. Right now they’re like 40 cents at the grocery store. Beginning next year, they are going to be closer to a dollar. It’s definitely an incentive to bring your own, reusable bag. When I think of reusable bags I picture the fabric totes. I have plenty. I’m not great at remembering to bring them when I grocery shop. But when I do I definitely give myself mental green points.
So I was surprised to learn that the plastic bag was actually invented (by a Swede no less!) to save trees and help reduce waste, and that the beloved cotton tote is not as good as I like to think. Watch this video to see what I’m talking about. And if you’re not into watching videos and just want to be told what to do… this is it: use what you already have and don’t get new stuff.
Another week done, another Friday. It is getting cold and dark. Most mornings there’s frost and ice on the ground when I haul the kids to preschool. Those mornings Lou sits in the trailer and points out to Ellie where all Elsa has been.
Dylan is working hard to get everything done for his dissertation. He is also cooking some really delicious vegan food. Pictured is a Pasta Bolognese that was seriously the bomb. If being vegan for these last few weeks has been easy it’s because a) I know it’s almost over, and b) Dylan pretty much shops and cooks for me.
I have followed and then unfollowed some sustainability related Instagram accounts that I thought were interesting and then found to be mostly pretty but sort of pointless. Looking for inspiration I’ve instead found myself annoyed at endless pictures of falling leaves and red apples. And no, the irony is not lost on me as I top this sustainability blog with a photo of my own food. What can you do?
That’s our little bubble. No new postcards from the Teddy postcard exchange this week. But some new accounts created on the website. Dylan is meeting with a German guy interested in the Theodores as I type this. And he has also had interest from a principal up north to come do a thing at a middle school. So there is momentum. And it is really nice to see that even when we are so overwhelmed with other stuff, the Theodores plugs along because there are a lot of people onboard.
Thanks for reading, now go enjoy your Friday!
I saw on the news a few weeks back that they (I believe it was the university of agricultural sciences) have developed a sort of video game for high schoolers where the premise is to run a farm or agricultural business and see how different crops, livestock, ways of farming, types of equipment, etc. impacts the environment. Very simply put, I’m sure there’s more to it. But the idea is to hand the kids a tool that’s informative, educational, easy to navigate, and fun. A game. Except you don’t really win. If you play it right, the planet does less poorly. Which is a win I guess.
I also recently came across this food calculator (link below, I don't know why I can't insert it here...) Which I will make no attempt at fact checking and instead just assume is fairly legit. I like it. Because it’s, well… informative, educational, easy to navigate, and fun. It’s not a game per se, but I still want to play. And as a result, I reflect. Some things are no brainers, like beef. Others more surprising, like avocado and rice. Beer versus wine. Coffee.
Try it. (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46459714)
At this day and age we are so spoiled with information (real and fake) constantly being thrown at us we sit like roman emperors, carefully selecting only the finest grapes and olives, when deciding which links to actually click on. What articles to read. Which clips to watch.
I really want to wrap up with something insightful about that. But I’m drawing a blank. Maybe it’s the vegan diet..? Although I have to say, 11 days in, that it’s not so bad.
Have a great weekend!
Depending on the source, numbers vary when it comes to how much meat consumption impacts the planet. And whether you care more about greenhouse gases or the (short) lives of animals bred, raised, fed and slaughtered in the mass production of chicken nuggets, meatballs, bacon and hamburgers…. There’s no (to me credible) way of denying that the meat industry, at large, is gross and harmful.
So there. Now I know this is a sensitive subject to a lot of people. Let me say this: you don’t have to give up all your meat to make a difference. You don’t have to feel guilty eating cheese just because you admit that most dairy cows are displaying alarming rates of hormones and that it might not be so great to consume gallons of the milk they’re producing 24/7/365 for calves they don’t have.
I’m not a vegetarian. (Any more, I was for almost 15 years though) But I eat a lot of vegetarian and vegan food. My kids eat meat and drink regular milk and yogurt and whatever is served at school. At home they drink oat milk and eat vegan hotdogs one day and regular meatballs the next. My only goal with their meat consumption is that I don’t want them to be meat-eaters by default. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me ”I don’t think I could be a vegetarian…. I just don’t know what I’d eat?!” And when they cook they base the whole meal around the meat and assume that were you to cook a vegetarian meal you’d just substitute the steak with a carrot. I don’t want my kids to think about food and meat like that. But I will never force them to stop eating meat.
There are so many great tasting alternatives these days. AND, there are a lot of vegan dishes that aren’t even made to be a vegan alternative to a meat, they’re just healthy (for the planet and for you), delicious food.
So what would work for you? Meatless Mondays? Trying to eat vegetarian for lunch on weekdays? It’s not all or nothing. But every effort counts. I’ve always felt like vegan was too hard core for me, and I still do. But for the month of October, I am going to try it. So far so good. And like I suspected, the hardest thing is the inconvenience. But, it’s been 4 days. I’ll get back to you when I’ve gone a couple of weeks without eggs and cheese.