This post is part of the Blogging (in) LA Series.
Los Angeles, with its vast geography, smog, traffic, and challenging mass transit options, might not be the place one would most expect to find an eco-blogger living and thriving. But Green LA Girl is someone who does just that – lives and thrives in Los Angeles seeking to incorporate eco-friendly principles in her day-to-day life and keeping record of her experiences doing so on a blog that offers a variety of insights and solutions both for Angelenos and for those not fortunate enough to live here in our great city. Covering a wide range of topics–from consumables (fair-trade organic coffee or chocolate) to fashion (eco-friendly panties) to eco-friendly item giveaways (yoga mats, coffee mugs, etc.) to reducing home energy use–Green LA Girl provides a wealth of knowledge of information that can help us strive to live in better harmony with our environment.
Green LA Girl was kind enough to take some time out of her Sunday afternoon to answer some questions for us, and here is what she had to say:
B.LA: You earned your PhD in Literature and Creative Writing here in LA at the University of Southern California. Did you have any inkling as you plotted out your education that you would end up being a blogger?
gLAg: No – and in fact, the blog started when I was in grad school because I felt like working on my degree was so removed from real life. Not that literature doesn’t have relevance in real life, but especially in the academic setting I just felt like there was a disconnect between day-to-day living and the things I was thinking about most of the day. It sort of became a way of connecting what I was thinking about to things that are actually happening in real life. And in my life, specifically.
B.LA: Well that’s a nice segue to my next question, about the subject matter of your blog: can you tell us about how you were inspired to become so passionate and involved in eco-awareness and activism?
gLAg: Well, the first post I wrote, I wrote because my DVD player broke, and I knew it was a bad idea to just throw it in the dumpster, but I didn’t know where I could actually recycle it. To figure that out, I ended up having to do a lot of research, and after I did it I didn’t just want that to let that information disappear. Surely there are other people who, if it were a little bit easier to recycle their DVD player, they actually would. So that ended up being my first post, and it sort of went on from there. A lot of the posts are just about me trying to deal with things in my life, whether its just like finding organic fair trade coffee—which was actually a lot tougher 6 years ago—and things to simplify living and make living more fun, doing that research and putting in on the blog that way other people—I mean, it helps me document my own life, which I find fun for personal reasons, but it also helps other people who might be interested in the same things find information that they want.
B.LA: Right, kind of a public service…
gLAg: Sort of, although that’s more a side benefit. I don’t know that my reasons for doing it are particularly altruistic.
B.LA: For many, Los Angeles isn’t the first city that comes to mind when thinking of eco-friendly living. As a city filled with people who seem always to be busy, on the go, and short of time, there are surely many people living in LA who would like to be more eco-conscious but convince themselves they don’t have time or energy to do so. Short of encouraging people to read your blog (which we do encourage), what would be your top three suggestions to people to reduce their impact on the environment?
gLAg: Well, I guess if you’re just going to pick the top three things that anyone can do, I would always recommend the low-hanging fruit. [One] Having a reusable bag that you have with you all the time—if you’re a woman the kind that is collapsible and fits into your purse is really convenient. [Two] Making sure you recycle. Even in LA you can recycle. Even when you live in an apartment—something you couldn’t do when I started the blog. [Three] I guess the third one would be trying to get to work in a more sustainable way, whether that’s biking, car-pooling, or taking the bus.
That said, those are all very small things and also things that can seem a little bit like a burden to someone who’s just starting out. It’s hard for people to see a personal benefit to doing those three things. Where living a green life becomes more fun and beneficial on a personal level as well as on an environmental level is when you actually make the bigger changes. For example, like moving closer to work. Or moving to a place where it’s just one straight rapid bus line to get to work. That one choice can make so many aspects of your life better, as well as more environmentally friendly. From saving you tons of money on gas and parking and maybe even getting a cash payout from work for not using the parking garage, to brightening your mood because you don’t have to fight with traffic to getting to know your neighborhood better because you’re out and about, walking to work, not in your car going from one garage to the next.
I think it’s when you make those bigger changes, living for example, somewhere that has a lot of the amenities around y ou that you can walk to in a pleasant way and have fun doing it as opposed to, say, breaking your back trying to take a bus long distances to haul extremely heavy organic groceries that cost you a whole lot more in your reusable bags. When you make the bigger changes, the smaller changes come sort of automatically. It is hard to convince people to make those sort of changes unless they get on the bandwagon by making the small ones like toting a reusable bag.
B.LA: So it’s sort of like getting people to think more strategically about how to live in environmentally-friendly ways…
gLAg: Well, and I think making the small changes really becomes a catalyst to thinking about your life more holistically. Say your commute gets a little bit longer because you take the bus—that can be a great catalyst for you to consider, “well maybe I should change where work is,” or “maybe I should change where home is.” Things you never would have considered when you owned a car, or when you drive a car.
B.LA: I know you’ve been active in the blogging community, not just here in LA but throughout the US with involvement in BlogHer, WordCamp, and other blogging-related activities. Based on the breadth of your experience, what observations would you make about the blogging community in Los Angeles?
gLAg: Wow… I’m not sure. Because I’m not sure of the blogging communities in other places, I’m not sure that I can necessarily compare/contrast to other cities. I do think the blogging community in LA tends to reflect the geography of LA itself. There will be bloggers I see a lot, and bloggers I see extremely rarely. And there are bloggers along specific topics I see a lot that don’t necessarily co-mingle. I think that’s sort of the reason I like events like Blogger Prom. As commercialized as it is, it’s a fun place for me to see a whole lot of other bloggers that I may not run into, but who I may have read about, whose work I may have read online. Or, whose work I may be interested in covering. I sort of wish there were more events like that. I feel like there were a few other mixers that have happened, but there haven’t been that many. And there are blogging-related parties all the time, but not so many that are inclusive of all types of bloggers.
B.LA: That’s a good thought—Blogger Prom is great, but more is always better.