SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Backpacker Magazine – April 2008

Carbon-Neutral Costa Rica: How I Lost 5,400 lbs While Packing for the Trip of a Lifetime

In search of a guilt-free adventure in the tropics, Jason Daley discovers the line between saving the world–and seeing it.

by: Jason Daley, Illustrations by Marcos Chin

Illustration by Marcos Chin
Illustration by Marcos Chin

There's nothing worse than a holier-than-thou greenie who brags about his bamboo floors at cocktail parties. But my quick, easy savings had me feeling like a postmodern John Muir, and I succumbed, briefly, to enviro-hubris. "So, how do you like using cold water in the washing machine?" I smugly asked my wife as she folded a load of laundry.

"You set it to cold? I didn't even notice the difference."

I beamed. This was definitely Crystal's house; she took note of every nick in the wall and splatter in the microwave. If she couldn't tell the difference, who would? She hadn't even noticed the change to compact fluorescents throughout the house until I pointed them out to her.

But ignorance is not always bliss. I'd made these changes without fully involving her in our household's carbon cutting. As with many people, the environment is low on her list of priorities, behind things like the economy, health care, cocktails, pedicures, and making sure Oscar gets his seizure medicine. That's not to say my wife is anti-environment–she recycles cardboard–but mention Kyoto and she'll tell you she doesn't like sushi.

So when the power bill came, she didn't rush into my arms, rapturous about the 100 kilowatts we'd already saved. Instead, she grimaced. "What's this $12 for?" she asked, pointing to the Renewable Energy Charge on the bill. I explained how I'd signed us up for Solar! Wind! and Hydro Power! I made the logical argument that the more renewable power people bought, the cheaper and more widely available it would become. Her eyes glazed. I could tell her enthusiasm for the project was waning. As far as she was concerned, I had just dumped a $12 pomegranate martini down the toilet.

In fact, we'd been backsliding all week. The first thing to go was the evil short-shower regimen. After a few days of "accidentally" forgetting to set the alarm, the annoying five-minute timer somehow found its way back into a drawer. "It's winter in Wisconsin," I argued to myself. "Sometimes a steamy seven-minute shower is required to restore the will to live." I took a 150-pound penalty.

Winter had come early, and temperatures were regularly dropping into single digits. When Crystal would return from work, she'd pull on a pair of thick socks, purple sweatpants, and a ratty pink nightgown, along with an oversized stocking cap and a sexy hoodie to complete the hobo-chic ensemble. Both thinly furred animals were constantly shivering under a blanket on her lap. She began bathing every other day so she wouldn't catch a chill after getting out of the shower. "It's so cold in here," she said each night, her nose red and runny. In an act of mercy, I raised the temp to 70°F and left it there, giving up on programming the thermostat until the next warm spell. I felt another 150 pounds of carbon fall back on my shoulders, but at least my wife started bathing again.



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Am I missing something here?
Posted On: Apr 23, 2014
Submitted By: hbfa
Trailhead Register
Group Size
Posted On: Apr 23, 2014
Submitted By: TDale

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions