Four Questions with Chris Baskind
by Wendy Gabriel
Chris Baskind is a writer and the publisher of several websites, including the green living journal Lighter Footstep. He recently launched More Minimal, a new site focusing on the benefit of a simpler lifestyle. A frequent spokesperson on Environmental issues, Chris has appeared on venues as diverse as National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” Business Week, and Slate.com. He’s also a familiar presence on Facebook and Twitter. He lives in Pensacola, Florida.
How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?
For one thing, I quit driving. It started as a one-month “carfree” experiment, and I’m now going into my fourth month without getting behind the wheel. Bicycle advocacy is becoming an important feature of my writing and outlook on personal sustainability.
You cofounded the groundbreaking site Lighter Footstep in 2007 with business partner Lisa Cagle. What was the impetus for starting a green living site?
It extended from my conviction that greener living is for everyone. There weren’t many sites dedicated to lowering one’s environmental impact in 2006 when Lisa and I started laying the groundwork for Lighter Footstep. There are hundreds now, of course, but just a few years ago, most green websites were primarily targeted to the treehugger crowd. I’m a treehugger myself, but “dark green” environmentalists account for a tiny slice of the population — and they’re not the ones looking for practical answers to difficult lifestyle questions. So that’s where were pointed Lighter Footstep.
More Minimal is very new, so we’ll have to see how these siblings get along. But the big difference between the two sites is that More Minimal is largely written in the first person. Lighter Footstep is very direct, pragmatic, and how-to oriented. More Minimal is more intimate. It’s also focused on downsizing our hectic, overstimulated, vastly consumptive lives. Learning to make more of less is the new green.
You were recently interviewed by Sean Daily at Green Talk Radio. It was a wonderful interview with some very quotable phrases including, “It’s not what we buy, it’s what we don’t buy.” Can you elaborate on that concept?
To be honest, a lot of green living and environmental websites and magazines are starting to look like product catalogs. Buy this, buy that — shop green and spend your way to a more sustainable world. This is nonsense. I am totally behind people and companies who are genuinely reevaluating the production chain: how we get products to market; how can we minimize the energy and materials involved without compromising quality; what should we do with these products at the end of their lifecycle. But the surest way to minimize a product’s impact is not purchase it at all. This is particularly true in the middle of a steep recession. Money is dear, and we don’t need a bunch of luxury goods presented as “green” products convincing people that simpler, more conscious living is only for the rich. It’s for everyone.