Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Green I alone?
Note: Hi Jenn-fans, it's Melissa. I'm taking the wheel today while Jenn takes a break (painting...not an actual break!) for a day. Hope you'll read on, relate and respond! Thanks!

Here's a kind of scary look at what goes on in my head on any given day:

First thing in the morning: I turn the shower on to warm up while taking care of other a.m. necessities. Sometimes (OK, fairly often) it runs a little longer than absolutely necessary just to warm it up...guilt ensues. Then more guilt for not having so far had the guts to incur my husband's exasperation by putting a bucket in the shower to collect the wastewater for eventual the spring, which seems absurdly far where would I put this water anyway...and would it then collect mosquitos...and would I then have to worry constantly about EEE (Eastern equine encephalitis for those who are wondering)?

Later in the morning: Debate with self merits of trying to find here in town all the odds and ends I have run out of or been wanting to get, knowing that even if I convince myself to go into the one icky grocery store in town, not everything is available. Feel like uncommitted jerk for not being able to convince myself that some of these items are unnecessary. Wind up going to Target (a few towns away) AND getting a green-tea lemonade at the in-store Starbuck's (to which I am hopelessly addicted). Mild happiness at having remembered my reusable cup (assuming I actually remember it; otherwise, self-recrimination for forgetting it).

On drive to Target: Ponder how I can offset the cross-country drive to Arizona I am hoping to take this summer. Ponder how to do this without enraging either of my adult driving companions, who are probably already a little irked by my lack of willingness to fly in the first place, thereby subjecting all of us to a possibly endless chorus of “Are we there yet?” and/or screeching by a not-quite-three-year-old who has been stuck in a car seat for the best part of eight hours.

On returning home from Target: Pat self on the back for green purchases, like Smarty Dish automatic dishwasher tabs (remind self to write e-mail to Method about lame packaging though!). Another pat for decision to give up disposable dust cloths...but wait, closer inspection of microfiber cloths purchased with idea of reuse reveals they are made from petroleum-based chemicals. ARGGGGH!

Prepping husband's and kids' lunch and snack any night of the week: Find all 12 to 15 reusable containers needed. Contemplate telling 6-year-old to “just deal” with graham crackers presented as squares instead of intact rectangles in order to be able to fit them into a reusable container smaller than his head. Take deep breath and try to forgive self for using a plastic baggie. (Award self and child partial bonus point later when six-year-old turns out to have brought empty bag home for reuse.)

On recent visit to friends: Driven somewhat mad by lack of recycling at place I'm visiting, but not wanting to be overly in-your-face to kind, much-beloved, hosts, await opportunities to hide recyclables in my own bags, including toilet paper rolls – appropriately enough – in my toiletries bag, many chipboard packages in reusable grocery bags, and a surreptitiously snatched and flattened plastic milk jug whisked upstairs to my backpack. Carefully leave some items in trash to avoid alerting host to covert activities. Fret over left-behind items. Try to avoid thinking too deeply about all the other forms of waste probably inherent in this vacation.

OK, this is just a sampling, and I should point out that between all my agita and somewhat muddled decisions, I occasionally do some things right. But does anyone else ever have days where they feel like they're hopping from one green decision point to another to another, and get to the end of a day feeling like they haven't appreciated any of the beauty around them?

Hear this: I am committed. I am definitely moving forward, making the changes in my day-to-day life that I can make, looking out for opportunities to do more, and trying to support others who are doing the same. But I have days where I feel absolutely overwhelmed by how slight all the good changes I've made so far are in the face of what's needed. Times when I feel lame and weak and not good enough, worried about what I'm not doing, or by all that I could be doing, and days where I just miss living without thinking so hard all the time.

So all you folks out there living the greenest way you know how, does it ever get overwhelming for you? And how do you keep it from getting to you when it does?


Bridgete said...

I'd say just try to remember that you can't do it perfectly all at once, and that every little bit really does count.

artjewl said...

Yes, it can get overwhelming. Especially when all I want is take-out from the Japanese place that only uses styrofoam packaging or when the kids incessantly beg for those single serve drinks, be they boxes, pouches, or "recyclable" bottles.

I feel most guilt-ridden, though, over disposable diapers and my weakness for LONG hot showers. But I think I'm going to tackle cloth diapers this next time through.

By the way, my kids whine about keeping the graham crackers in tact too.

Jenn said...

days where I just miss living without thinking so hard all the time

You are SO not alone there! In our household it helps that we can help each other (kind of like O/W did with bringing the bag back home ya know?). For example, sometimes when shopping I immediately reach for the "thing" I've always bought and Matt notices a greener option. Other times it is me suggesting something greener (like hey let's not go through an entire roll of TP in 2 days). Every little thing you think about now will become second nature later, trust me. Now when shopping I do still look at labels and stuff but it isn't as often as it was when I first started this huge push to green up my life.

Speaking of trips, we randomly drove to Canada just because we felt like it a couple weeks ago. I am not stressing because of 2 things 1. When we got to the border we discovered solar panels on top of the crossing and I decided to research further to write about (maybe that will be today's we'll see!) and 2. I work from home 85% of the time and never drive anywhere substantial. (hello, you should be able to relate to this one :)

It all balances out in the end :)

By being conscious about it (mind you, don't stress too much, its still just life after all!) you're already further along than someone who isn't :)

MelissaBBGG said...

Thanks for the comments to date. Glad I'm not the only one, and that my kid isn't the only one so picky about the graham crackers, LOL! And my showers are longer than strictly necessary too, though I'm trying to be better (just saw someone make the very simple suggestion of using a timer in the bathroom! Why didn't I think of that?)

As for the diapers, artjewl (sorry, I don't know your real name!), my next-door neighbor uses cloth, but told me that her research basically indicates it's kind of six of one, half a dozen of the other, environmentally, because of all the water (and electricity) used to wash the cloth diapers and some of the inherent costs in producing (growing, harvesting and in many cases bleaching cotton) and transporting them.

I'm sure if you went with totally organic cloth diapers there'd be some advantage, and I definitely hear you about the landfilling part of it (and I say that as someone who's landfilled three kids' worth of disposables, sadly). Can't wait til my youngest is trained and we can stop contributing there!