My Shit is Greener than Yours

14 Feb

I’m a little crunchy on the edges, Divas and Divos. I have a clothesline. I have a garden, where I grow cucumbers so I can make my own pickles. I have a compost bin. I use natural cleaning products (like vinegar and baking soda). I (like Caulle) try to cook real food, and since I live in a warmish sort of state with a lot of different climate zones, I can usually eat food grown not too far away. I even have long wavy hair.

But you know what really burns my little hippie toast?

People telling each other how to live, and deciding that others are somehow “less than” because they don’t do some pre-determined “eco-friendly” thing.

Guess what, greenvangelists? People don’t all live the same way. They don’t all have the same access to recycling programs, available land space, disposable income, and available time to do every new “green” thing. (Also, I hate the word “green” – it’s become a stupid business buzzword.*) None of the supposedly “green” things that I do make me in any way superior to anyone else, and most of them actually save me money.

If all you can do to be an aware citizen of Planet Earth are little things that, in the end, save you money? Go for it.

This shouldn’t be about suffering. If you have to suffer, you’re doing it wrong. And I really think, on some level, that’s what the “Greener Than Thou” thing comes down to. People making decisions that make them miserable, so they want to feel superior about it. But miserable people don’t tend to stick with the changes they’re making. Like exercising, if you hate every minute of something, you won’t keep doing it, or if you do, you’ll be really grumpy and nobody will want to be around you anymore.

I love my garden. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of growing my own food. I am also lucky enough to live in a house that has a well-lit yard and to be able-bodied enough to wield a pickaxe and a shovel and a hoe.

On the other hand? I can never be a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, for legitimate medical reasons. I am chronically B-12 deficient, even supplemented with the nasty cherry flavored goo that I squirt under my tongue every morning. Do vegetables have a lower “carbon footprint” than meat? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I can’t ever eat meat again (and then get very sick) out of some pre-determined suffering that I must experience to be “greener”. Instead, I can cut a few meals with meat in them out of my diet, stay healthy, and use common sense.

Unfortunately, sensibility will never sell as well as sensationalism.

This doesn’t have to take over our lives, and it shouldn’t be some kind of political choice. Turning the lights off when you’re not in the room will lower your energy bill. Turning the water off when you brush your teeth will lower your water bill. Turning the thermostat up a degree in the summer or down a degree in the winter will lower your energy and/or gas bill. Choose a reusable thing over a disposable thing and you’ll not have to buy more disposable things all the time. Grouping up your errands into one circular trip can save both time and gas, which saves money. If your city has a recycling program, recycle whatever you can (Ok, this one doesn’t save you money directly).

Being aware of our own levels of resource and energy use isn’t a contest and doesn’t require a label. Taking care of the earth is smart and responsible and often saves money, but living like a “modern human” is pretty great too (see: internet, washing machines, hot water heaters).

If you’re really super into self sufficiency, that’s awesome. I will totally swap gardening tips (did you know that you can plant radishes in your cucumbers to deter the worms that eat cucumbers?). If you’re vegetarian/vegan for health OR ideological reasons, I will totally steal your recipes. If you’ve got an awesome pattern for curtains that help insulate a room, I’ll probably bookmark it for a crafty weekend.

Just remember that everyone works at their own pace, and there’s a HUGE middle ground. Sure, some things require a little thought or planning, but everyone can be a responsible Earthling (as trite as it sounds, we really only have one of these planet things, so not fucking it up too much makes sense). We all just do what we can with what we have.

No manifestos, pledges, pinkie swears, or declarations required.

*Green is now a buzzword that companies throw on every possible label they can, complete with little cute leaf and flower graphics, regardless of the actual components of the product (or chemicals used during the manufacturing), because they can use it to get us to buy more stuff.

**The title of this post is brought to you by the cookie cake in the breakroom at work last week that had BRIGHT KELLY GREEN icing all over it. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. >:}

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One Response to “My Shit is Greener than Yours”

  1. Tami February 14, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Oh, shiny blog facelift!

    Why people have to make everything into a fierce competition, I don’t know. Also, you’re right – not everyone has the options to do all the “green” (we do need a new word, I agree … that one’s been stolen and abused by The Man) things that others can do.

    For example, I live in an apartment complex around smokers. When it’s not freezing outside, I could hang my laundry on the balcony, but half the time, I’d pull it in and it’s be full of cigarette smoke. I can do container gardening on my balcony, but there’s really not enough sunlight to do vegetables properly.

    Someday, I hope to have a line and a vegetable garden (and I never tire of hearing stories of YOUR garden!) but until that day, I use a laundromat dryer and buy as local and organic as I can (either a local co-op or farmer’s markets when they’re up).

    Everyone who CARES can probably find something, no matter how small in comparison, that they can do to make a difference.

    I think that should be the ribbon tying all this together. We care. We try. That’s the group I want to be in. Not the one telling people who are recycling that they’re not good enough.

    I love living in the future. I’m a programmer, not a farmer. I make my living by building websites and pushing pixels around on a screen. I love that I have the option to visit a laundromat, that I can buy oranges in Wisconsin in the winter, and that when it gets cold and dark I can turn on a heater and a lamp and fire up my computer to spend some time with my friends.

    My “green” isn’t an off-the-grid cabin in the woods. It includes a lot more showers than that – wasted water or no.

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