Teresa WadeDo you buy local and organic? Turn the water off when brushing your teeth? Compost food and yard waste? How do you know when you’re living green?

What does it mean to be green? Sure, you might recycle, eat organic and use only reusable shopping bags, but does that mean you’re living a green lifestyle? With all the labels and messages floating around in the marketplace and media these days, it can be confusing to determine what “going green” really means — and when to know if you’re doing it.

As our world shifts to meet the reality of stressed resources, living green is becoming the new norm, but it can be challenging to balance living well with living green. The good news is that every green action, no matter how small, moves us forward on the journey to sustainability. There’s no one-practice solution or “easy button,” but each new commitment to integrate green products, services and technologies into our daily lives and businesses deepens our shade of green. Think of it in terms of Beaufort County: One action, multiplied by 150,000 (the rough number of residents in the county), adds up.

Lanier Laney, left, and Terry Sweeney at their Beaufort home. “People say, ‘Do you miss L.A.?’ Never,” Sweeney says.These days, when Terry Sweeney walks the streets of the Lowcountry, he’s more likely to get compliments about “The Happy Winos” — his local wine column — than the Nancy Reagan impression he did on “Saturday Night Live” three decades ago.

Sweeney’s wine writing and local address are part of a different reality than the one he and partner and fellow comedy writer Lanier Laney lived for several decades in New York and Los Angeles. In the 1980s, Sweeney wrote for and appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” lampooning the likes of Reagan, Joan Collins and Diana Ross. As the first openly gay performer on broadcast television, he also cleared the way for legions of other gay performers and characters on TV — even if it meant its share of aftershocks.

A Hilton Head Island teen uses her Sweet 16 party to ask for a little something more than presents.

Crystal Garmon’sSixteen-year-old Crystal Garmon’s got it made, and she knows it. She also knows who to thank, at least in part, for the comfort and freedom she enjoys at her Hilton Head Island home. “I think it’s really cool that (those in the Armed Forces) would just give up their lives to defend this country,” said Crystal, a sophomore at Hilton Head Island High School. “We have a great life here, and they’re out there su ering in the cold and the dirt.”

The image of troops putting themselves in harm’s way troubled Crystal, who had an idea while working with her parents on invitations to her Sweet 16 party in December: In lieu of presents, she would ask for donations that would go toward care packages for troops. “Her dad and I just looked at each other, puzzled,” said Crystal’s mom, Michelle Garmon.

We asked locals: What would be your perfect Valentine's Day (or night)? Here's what they told us about having the perfect romantic holiday in the Lowcountry.

My funny ValentineTIM SINGLETON
Hilton Head High Football Coach/Executive Director, Strive to Excel

My perfect day? A warm atmosphere, food, great stamina and the perfect mix of laughter and reflection.

Founder/Voice of the Hallelujah Singers

A day spent with my honey would be a perfect Valentine’s Day. When I see him I see a bouquet of roses: yellow for friendship and red for love. His conversation with me reads like a card.

Judge Frank SimonTrue love may know no bounds, but getting married in the state of South Carolina — like driving a car, catching a fish or owning a gun — requires a piece of government documentation to be fully legit. The man to talk to about that in Beaufort County is Judge Frank Simon, a Korean War vet who has served as the Beaufort County Probate Court judge since 1994. The court oversees the little bit of bureaucracy that attaches itself to every bit of true love: the marriage license. The court issues about 1,800 licenses every year. Even if you and your betrothed are just in town for vacation, you can still get a license (for an added fee of $45). The court doesn’t see too much Vegas-style eloping, but getting married in the Lowcountry can come with its own hazards.

YOUR RESOLUTIONSIt’s a day that everyone dreads: Jan. 2.

The parties are over, the presents put away, the decorations back in their boxes. And with everything closed up for another holiday season, there are officially no more available excuses for putting off those New Year’s resolutions.

Sure, everyone’s just getting back into classes after winter break, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the next step in your child’s education. If you’re considering private school, the Lowcountry has no shortage of options. Read on:

Hannah FultonWhy I went to private school

A writing assignment by Hannah Fulton

When I was in eighth grade, my parents took me to visit the boarding school in St. Louis that my father had attended. There was no pressure, no pushing — it was just a simple visit. Having lived in Hilton Head for quite a while, my parents wanted me to experience a different part of the country. Plus, my dad loved his experience at the school in St. Louis, and my mom had attended boarding school as well, so the concept wasn’t foreign to either of them.

SHELL STATIONIt’s winter in the Lowcountry, and you know what that means: Huddling up under heavy wool blankets around the fireplace. Wait, no! Leave that noise to the folks who winter in the Midwest; here, nature barely cracks a window for the cold air before bathing-suit season returns again. Besides, the chillier months bring some of the best locals’ events around: oyster roasts, where friends and neighbors celebrate the kind of Lowcountry heartiness that refuses to cede the outdoors, even when the rest of the country is snowbound. But how can you make sure your oyster roasts with the best of them? We asked Russell Anderson — owner of Captain Woody’s, the site of monthly oyster roasts for more than a decade — for a pro’s primer:

10 steps to avoiding burnout

10 steps to avoiding holiday burnout

The holidays are stressful to just about everybody — and despite what it sounds like, that’s not a generalization. A Harris Interactive “holiday stress index” survey found that 90 percent of Americans feel anxiety this time of year. The funny thing is, the holidays don’t have to be stressful, and you can begin approaching the season with more excitement and less dread right now. Let us count the ways...

We may be lacking in the snow department around here, but with choice Christmastime tunes, you can still make your island holiday plenty bright. A few favorite yuletide numbers, as selected by Monthly writers.


In what’s become a legendary television goof, CBS originally gave Guaraldi’s pitch-perfect and snowfall-soft soundtrack an ungracious thumbs-down (along with the entire special inexplicably), but four decades later, nearly everything here — especially “Skating,” “Greensleeves” and the hastily assembled “Christmas Time Is Here” — has become required listening. (A wonderful 2006 reissue cleaned up the sound and added alternate takes of four tracks, well worth the upgrade).