Reflections Part Deux

Here’s another truth. When I became an eco-nut, I leaped in without thinking too critically about what I was doing and what I was trying to accomplish.

In my defense, my conversion from person who cared vaguely about the environment to Strident Green happened literally in about fifteen minutes. After watching an interview about how cashmere goats are ruining the world (yes, cashmere goats made me change my life), I took the red pill.

And almost instantaneously, I became a green. And by that I don’t mean that I cleaned up beaches or hugged trees or went hiking in forests or protested a coal plant. In fact, I did none of those things.

When I say I became a green, I mean that I adopted a framework of values that told me what was good and what was bad.

Organics were good. Walking was good. Cloth diapers were good. Doing things the way they had been done for hundreds of years was good.

Conventionally grown food, driving, disposable diapers, industrialization, was all bad.

The framework served several purposes: it served as a secular moral code, and it allowed me to feel good about myself when I adhered to it. But mostly, it served as a shortcut. Instead of having to do the math on what had the most impact on emissions: the glass bottle of organic milk from the farm 100 miles away or the cardboard carton of non-organic milk from 20 miles away, I could just say plastic = bad, organic = good.

Problem solved.

Except that it wasn’t.

First science would get in the way, and someone would point me to an extremely annoying study showing that cloth diapers have the same impact as disposable diapers, and I’d do some hand waving and dig in my heels. The study must be wrong or conducted badly or the cloth must not have been organic or the diapers were washed in scalding hot water. And even when all my objections were countered, I’d still refuse to believe the result. Cloth diapers were just better. Because.

And it wasn’t because I was anti-science exactly. It was that I needed my heuristic to work. Because how else would I know how to live?

Then there are the times that parts of my framework would contradict other parts. For example, I believed that spending time with friends and family was the most important thing you could do. I also believed that driving was bad. Of course, when I stopped driving to work (in LA) my commute went from fifteen minutes to an hour and five minutes. Which obviously meant I had less time to spend with friends and family.

And of course there was the aforementioned problem. Which was that my framework was strict. Insanely strict. So strict that even when I was at my best, I was always, always sinning.

So I loosened up.

And thus began my fall from grace.

9 responses to “Reflections Part Deux

  1. You are a very brilliant person. This post is really fantastic.

  2. I feel like I can now confess…I gave up cloth diapers a month ago. I went back to work full time, and I just had to let something go. I’m hoping that working for a company that values and works towards sustainability will balance some sort of cosmic equation. Also, and more importantly, I’ve decided to accept that I’m human and I do the best I can…it’s kind of a nice feeling!

    • Seriously Melissa, I’ve looked at the studies, and I’m pretty convinced that cloth diapers and disposables have about equal impact.

      Also, in the grand scheme of things, diapers are a tiny drop in an ocean of s**t. Don’t beat up on yourself.

  3. Miss you, your blogs always make me smile x

  4. Pingback: Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion « Clarissa's Blog

  5. Aha, so it was that you made it a Christian type religion – but you know that’s not the point, being able to say you are “good” is not the point, right?

  6. This is brilliant! There are definitely no easy answers for how to conduct a life that’s environmentally friendly…and because there are no easy answers, I’ve always believed that simply labeling things as “good” or “bad” can’t be the best way. (I mean, except for a few things…I think we can all agree that factory-farmed meat is pretty bad.)

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