Thursday, April 17, 2008

Part I: what I do wrong (the short list)

Really, it seems like it is almost impossible for me to do anything ‘right’ for the environment in my daily life.

1. My normal workday involves getting up in the dark, turning on one light (with a cfl bulb), making a pot of [imported after destroying who knows how much rain forest] coffee, with filtered (another environmental disaster) water.

2. And drinking a glass of non-local grapefruit juice poured out of a plastic bottle.

3. I grab something to call breakfast, which inevitably contains sugar and some level of plastic packaging. Today’s healthy choice was a handful of animal crackers from a plastic tub. Tomorrow it might be cereal, but I ask you, really, what’s the difference? Plastic, may I remind you, is the devil, and sugar plantations are causing the downfall of the Okeechobee River, the Gulf of Mexico, the Australian Reef and pretty much the whole universe because of pesticide and fertilizer run off. [Imagine telling our grandchildren that they will never see a reef, that the everglades are gone, and that they can’t have life as we know it because we had to have more and more sugar.]

4. I drive to work, alone, in my 1997 Corolla, which is well tuned and still, after a few hundred thousand miles, gets good gas mileage. I love that car. But I drive a lot, and fill up about 7 times a month. I live in a no-mass-transit part of the world.

5. At work, I do not turn on my office lights, and I power off when I leave, but I do use a computer all day. I don’t even like my job, which makes it all seem even more wasteful.

6. Lunch. If I have groceries in the house, I will try to bring it, and it will be at least as healthy as breakfast (yum). I will warm it up in a toxic plastic container. If there are no groceries in the house, I will try to do without, but if I can’t a Styrofoam container is inevitable.

7. A coworker stops by, with adorable mini hostess cupcakes in a plastic sleeve, and I tell her, again, about plastic and sugar plantations, and offer to send her some websites. But then I eat the cupcakes and throw away the plastic, and worry that next time she won’t share them with me.

8. I drive home, alone.

9. Home is fairly small, but inhabited by only one person, and still a place with a gas furnace, air conditioning, electricity, sanitary water, a computer.

10. And then I drive some more. I drive on errands and appointments, drive to take Mr. Cranky out for food, drive 2 hours north to see my grandchildren, or drive to go shopping with my sister while trying to comply with Crunchy Chicken’s Buy Nothing Challenge.

It is likely that my personal ‘carbon footprint’ is no bigger than average, but that really doesn’t matter because it is multiplied millions of times. Even knowing better, it is hard to change my lifestyle against the tide of the social environment I live in, and we can’t all move to the west coast or Europe where people are apparently smarter. It’s hard to make better living a habit, hard to reach for the (local) fruit instead, hard to make the time to shop well and cook and preserve my food, really hard to cut my portions back to sensible 1950-sized portions, and harder still to limit my sugar intake. Sometimes I wonder if I am evolved enough to maintain the necessary sense of fear and/or commitment to make the changes that need to be made. It is not easy to convince that dinosaur inside me to get shaking!

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