The Upside of Unemployment? Time For Going Green…

by heather

It’s official: I have now joined the ranks of the “underemployed”. I’m not fully unemployed, but my freelancing clients have been closing down and jumping ship with alarming frequency. Magazines have closed, marketing is down, and expansion projects have been put on hold.

To a commercial copywriter like me, it means the spigot is drying up. I’m doing a tiny, tiny fraction of the work I was doing just a few months ago.

The good news is that I can always find more work. It’s out there if I go look. But, I decided to hold off on that a bit. Why? Because I realized that right now is a perfect time to do some meaningful work for the environment.

More Time To Go Green

Being unemployed or underemployed stinks. It really does. Things have really escalated in the past month in my own business (well, escalated in the sense that it’s drying up!), and at first I was freaked out. But after some introspection, I realized that this could be a good thing if I looked at it that way.

After all, this time is like a blank check. How am I going to spend it?

My first realization was that now I have the time to post on this blog everyday and make it grow. Yay!

Another realization was that now I’ve got the time to reorganize the recycling system in my garage to make taking all my plastics to Recycle Livingston much efficient. Bonus!

I’ve also got the time to build a composting system in my backyard. That one’s been on my “To Do” list since last spring. Fabulous.

What are some other perks? Well, here’s some new ways you can look at being under or unemployed when it comes to going green. I know anyone would rather have regular work (myself included), but these are just a few ideas to help shift your thinking to a more positive outlook on the situation.

The Green Benefits

  • You’re at home more, which means you probably aren’t buying things “on the go” (like take out lunch and bottled water). This is not only saving money, but it’s also reducing waste.
  • You’re not driving back and forth to work, so you’re saving money on gas and using less every day.
  • No paycheck means no shopping. You’re saving money and consuming fewer resources.
  • You now have time to research how to save money and go green in your own life.

What You Can Do

This really could be the perfect time to tackle some of those green projects you’ve always thought about doing, but never had the time for.

  • For instance, you might have time now to try starting your own garden. This not only is going to save you money, but it’s also going to save energy (since you don’t have to buy vegetables trucked across the country) and give you some exercise.
  • You now have the time to actually cook dinner. Marvelous! You can experiment with recipes, and buy less prepackaged food (which uses far more packaging than fresh). One great blog I love is Cheap, Healthy, Good. Great, healthy recipes for cheap.
  • It might also be the perfect time to upgrade your light bulbs to CFLs. It’s a cost up front, but you start saving energy immediately so they’ll pay for themselves within a few months.
  • You’ve also got plenty of time to volunteer. Tons of organizations, green or otherwise, need all hands on deck right now. Check out to find organizations in your area that are looking for help.

    Big Blue

    Big Blue

  • You could start a compost pile. This would reduce your garbage, and give your garden or flower beds some fantastic soil to use this spring and summer.
  • You could save money by making a rain barrel to harvest your rainwater. If you plan on starting a garden this spring, this could save you big. I have a rain barrel, and I love it. Her name is “Big Blue”.

See where I’m going here? There are tons of things you can do for the environment that will also save you money to boot. It’s gratifying to do good in so many ways.

I think it’s important to keep your chin up here. I’ll be doing the same thing, and focusing on the positive. Yes we’ve got some free time. But, what are we going to do with it? Are we going to wallow and moan about the unfairness of it all, or are we going to move on and decide to make a real difference with what we’ve got?

My vote’s on making a difference.

Last Word…

Syndicated columnist Ann Landers wrote, “If I were asked to give what I considered the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high. Look it squarely in the eye and say, ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.’

We can do this!

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Aya @ Thrive February 25, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Well, if it makes a difference, I’m excited that you’ll be updating posts more often 🙂 I truly value your tips and the product reviews are great resources. A lot of times I’m wary about if I should go for the healthier or greener choice even if it costs more for something, but having the reviews helps make that decision! I love my new thermos too, except not all coffee shops are okay with me handing them a thermos and prefer to give me a paper cup. So un-green and not intuitive!

heather February 25, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Hi Aya,

Thanks so much! It does make a difference. Writing for this blog is incredibly gratifying, and I definitely think it’s worth the time and effort involved.

And who knows where it will lead in the future? You never know when you’re stepping through an open door to something amazing.

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