Image courtesy of Messybeast.com
So, the whole "green" thing is everywhere now. Have you noticed? There's information on green companies, green products, how to green your life, how to poop green, you name it. Believe me, I'm relieved (and not just about the poop). One of my own personal zeniths was when I had a letter published in O Magazine congratulating them for doing more environmental reporting (I can die happy now that I've been in such close proximity to the Goddess. Or at least to her minions). And I'm glad there is a movement toward less consumption, less waste, more consciousness.
Of course, as No Impact Man pointed out today, a whole lot of people and business are claiming to be "green" when they're not. There was a similar story in our Door to Door Organics newsletter showing that big businesses are pushing the definition of "organic" beyond meaningful, and the government isn't doing much to stop it. Doesn't this news make you feel weary? I mean, I'm not suprised, I guess, but it's tough when you try to do the right thing and everywhere your attempts are being thwarted. It's tough not to get cynical.
But these things are on my mind more and more all the time. I've been teaching the environmental stuff long enough now that I'm interested more and more in my own actions, and what they say about me and my values. I've written before about my struggles with consumerism, and those still persist. But more and more going in to the big boxes makes me skittish and panicky: thinking about where all those things came from and how many resources were consumed to make them and all that. I'm not into total deprivation, or anything. I'm not No Impact Man, and I would have a wicked hard time doing what the Compact folks have done.
Still, I'm moving slowly in that direction, you know? The changes are slow, but they are becoming good habits. Remembering to take the canvas bags to the market instead of getting plastic ones. Remembering to fill the Nalgene bottles instead of buying the insidious bottled waters. Buying organic food locally. Planning to buy a hybrid vehicle. Turning the lights off.
Here are my principle struggles (other than the war I wage daily with the Banana Republic outlet store down the street--yum):
1. I want to make these choices not from a place of fear or deprivation, but because they make sense, are in line with my beliefs about waste and using things only as needed. I want to address my need to own everything because it makes good spiritual and financial sense, not because of worry or guilt. The emotional part of it seems key.
2. It's tough to make good choices sometimes, because certain habits are convenient. I have this nagging sense that we should probably be taking the bus more, but when you have two little kids and a minimum of three heavy bags to take to work, the difficulty seems to outweigh the gain. When both girls are at the same school (which is on the way to work!) this might become easier.
3. Picking the battles is also hard. Canvas bags: easy. Nalgene bottles: easy. Spending tons more on transpo: difficult. Giving up Banana Republic addiction: difficult. Trying to support businesses and products that are truly "green": difficult.
4. I read a good essay recently in which an environmentalist dad realized he had passed on a lot of anger and fears of scarcity on to his teenage son. His kid read him the riot act for making him feel hopeless, as if nothing good would last, as if the world was destined to become one large Las Vegas. I don't want to pass on this sort of legacy to my kids: I want to teach them not to waste and to value the right things, but it will be a challenge to do this from the right place when I struggle myself.
The good news is that, even with all the b.s. on "green" out there, some good stuff is getting through. Some of these changes are making sense, and I'm excited about the future. I'm hopeful that some major cultural revisions are on their way. I'm clinging fiercely to that optimism.