I’m not going to cite a bunch of research in this post trying to prove whether or not global warming is a scientific fact, or if it is, the real extent to which human activity contributes to it. I’m going to assume if you’re reading this, the link between global warming and the wasteful and thoughtless way we live is self-evident now.
Currently, I’m living the most green lifestyle I’ve probably lived. After reading a good deal of literature on the subject of environmentalism, and then a few years later coming back to Louisville, and eventually moving out of my parents’ house to where I can live on my own terms, I have to say I’m proud of the changes I’ve made in my lifestyle. Living with my roommate Lizz helps. She gives me much needed reminders and inspiration. Now that it’s Spring, I feel the pressure to be further motivated to live more sustainably. By comparison, I really don’t think the way I live is the most eco-friendly it could be by a long shot. I sometimes wonder how much buying organic and natural food, recycling the materials I can, or using natural laundry detergent really contributes. It’s a question I struggle with sometimes. When I stop by the grocery in the spur of the moment on my way home, because running out of food snuck up on me, and then look around my car and realize all my own bags are at home, I just go in anyway, thinking that using plastic just this one time isn’t such a big deal since I almost never do. Is it a big deal? I don’t know. And then I end up hoarding them in the cabinet above my refrigerator, so I won’t throw them away. When I open it, they come busting out. I think every plastic bag I’ve brought home since I moved in is up there. As I type, a decent size box sits next to me that my new laptop came in, overflowing with plastic wrap, bubble packaging foam, and more pointless weirdly shaped cardboard that melded to the object it encased. What am I going to do with it? Recycle it? Put the larger box in the basement for a future storing container? Eventually. But, for now, it sits here on my bedroom floor and has for the past three days. By and large, humans don’t know what to do with their waste, and this packaging solidifies for me even more how much inadvertent excess material a single human accumulates. In the end, I just have to tell myself I do what I can, I suppose.
In analyzing the way I live with the new season, I’ve been thinking of ways I can improve. The rebirth of the trees, grass, and flowers should be an environmental awakening, shouldn’t it? Sadly, when that single red tulip sprouted in my front yard, my motivation didn’t with it. I’ve worked hard to change the way I eat, especially after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma a few years ago. I’ve been reading In Defense of Food on and off this past month to get more informed. I buy organic and natural food when I can. I get confused about what types of food are best to buy organically and which kind wouldn’t be absolutely necessary. I’ve also reduced my weekly meat consumption to only two times, sometimes three, which doesn’t help with my goal to get down to one. I feel like this is a good balance. I failed at every vegetarian phase I went through — one in high school, a shorter one in college, and then I couldn’t eat meat for about two months after watching Food, Inc.. Eating meat is natural to me though, which is why limiting it is the best option. Not just because of the health reasons associated with those sick growth hormones and antibiotics — don’t even get me started on how chickens lay in their own feces — but because the U.S. meat consumption rate depletes the world’s resources. But, when I go over to my parents’ house, clearly these rules don’t apply, and I can eat as many Doritos and Totinos frozen pizzas I want. And then immediately regret it. But, seeing the type of food I was raised on compared to the type of food I choose for myself, I’m reminded of the long way I’ve come and shouldn’t stress over it too much. Lizz and I are also thinking about joining a CSA, and maybe that way I could eat meat that’s been killed and processed more ethically and naturally. By investing share in a farm, I would know where my fruits and vegetables are coming from in support of somewhere local, which may be more important to me than anything. It would be quite a commitment though.
At my core, I am lazy, which is a root of the problem. I know of ways I can change this, but the issue is a matter of wanting to change. I’ve contemplated getting a new bike. I haven’t had one in awhile when my old bike broke. I hate that I do things like drive to Kroger when it’s only about a ten to fifteen minute walk or to my sister’s house when she pretty much lives down the street from me. But then, I feel like these compromises need to be made with living more green. For instance, Kroger doesn’t have the best options in terms of sustainable and natural food to buy, and Whole Foods does, but Kroger is so much closer. So, do I walk to Kroger and buy non-organic strawberries — or organic strawberries that aren’t really organic, but are in name only, because every company has jumped on the organic bandwagon to capitalize on the green market — or do I drive to Whole Foods which sells more genuinely natural food? Rainbow Blossom is about midway, though would be a pretty substantial walk, and it’s also more expensive, and I don’t do the bulk of my grocery shopping there but only for special items. I suppose if I had a bike I could take that to Whole Foods, but this would require planning to where it would almost become an event. I couldn’t go there quickly, taking twenty to thirty minutes at the most and back home to watch more Arrested Development on Netflix. And, that’s another problem I have, directly linked to laziness, which is convenience. Or maybe it’s complacency, or perhaps a mix of both. I can be pretty stuck in my ways. I’m someone who relies on routine for comfort, to the extent that my routines become ritual for me. And breaking out of rituals is difficult. Conversely, I wonder if I implement certain green ways because they’re easier. For instance, Lizz and I thought about a no-mow lawn, which would be wonderful, because I hate mowing grass. Lizz’s brother basically did all of it last year, and if it wasn’t him, our neighbor with the riding mower swooped in. God, I wonder what our neighbors think of us sometimes. But, going no-mow would mean essentially reseeding the entire yard, which would be much more work. So, we decided against it and plan on purchasing a manual push reel mower instead. We also implement an “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” bathroom policy, with a sign above the toilet for guests. Yes, it’s environmentally more friendly, but it also saves on our water bill. I think being more environmental has it’s benefits, but for the changes needed that don’t on a short term scale, that require a serious modification of the way I live my life, I have more problems adapting. And, these changes will yield much more benefits in long-term, but not without work and a little sacrifice of old ways.
I’m hoping my lifestyle will change more gradually, and these problems related to character and personality I have will get better. As long as I keep in mind the reason I’m doing it. For the sake of the earth, our home, and for the sake of that red tulip, which I think was demolished from the storm the other day. Nature takes it’s course. We’re along for the ride, while also being a part of it.