Yesterday my heart sang while reading your comments--from composting dirty Kleenex to growing your own food you guys are really green from your nose to your toes! This got me to thinking about the Easy Stuff (reusable shopping bags, turning off lights when leaving a room, recycling) and the Takes-More-Effort Stuff (using clotheslines, buying organic/locally grown, growing your own food) and the Super-Sacrificial Stuff (biking instead of driving, investing in renewable energy, canning).
I think some of people's behavior has to do with where they live (rather hard to bike instead of drive when you live in the country--likewise it's tough to grow your own food if you live in a city apartment building). I also think some of this has to do with gratitude. It's easy for me to deal with minor inconveniences like forgoing paper towels because I look outside my window and think Dang, this is a pretty planet. I'm thankful for biological cycles that allow life to renew itself and heal itself. I'm thankful for the diversity of birds and bugs and flowers and fish. I'm thankful for the air I breathe, the water I drink, the green stuff I eat every day. My gratitude makes a little sacrifice easier.
I use my clotheslines, compost, buy milk in reusable bottles, grow some of our own food and preserve it for winter. I'm buying less new stuff and more "used". I purchase gifts from Etsy (because my green thumbs are all thumbs when it comes to crafting) and I wear a sweater and slippers to keep the thermostat down in the 6 months of Wisconsin winters. But I still eat meat and I drive a 5-year-old minivan that is better suited for transporting bodies than controlling carbon emissions. I buy things wrapped in plastic and wear mascara with parabens in it. Perfectly green? Not by a long shot.
My kids came home yesterday to tell me what they'd learned at school about Earth Day. They had a scavenger hunt in the Happyland Elementary Nature Center and Mr. T's spelling list included words like "pollution" and "litter." Then Mr. D came home from work. Our 15-year-old printer bit the dust 2 weeks ago and Monday he hooked up our replacement. The old printer sat on the kitchen table and I asked him where I might take it to recycle.
D: "You just throw it away."
Me: "Well, there must be somewhere that takes old electronics--I mean I just figured since you work at a Major Tech Company you might know of someplace offhand."
D: "Yeah, I do. But we pass the cost along to our customers because it costs money to get rid of old computers and stuff. We don't pay to get rid of old stuff. The customer does."
M: "So can't you just take the printer to your office?"
D: (giving me a look of disgust) "Just throw it away."
Team Testosterone: "Dad! It's Earth Day! You have to recycle! Love our planet! blah blah blah Can't fill landfills with trash! blah blah blah Pollution--litter--recycle--planet!"
D: ( impaling me with his glare) "Fine! I'll take it into the office."
I put the old printer on the passenger seat of his car this morning because I knew he'd "forget it" lying on the washing machine on his way out. Wanna bet there's a 50/50 chance it ends up in the Major Tech Company's dumpster?
Let you think Mr. D is the only monster living in this house, here's what I did last night while Mr. T was at karate class: I went to the hardware store to look at sprayers. There was one for rent--a 2-gallon backpack model. "Is that the biggest one you have?" I asked the clerk. We checked and yes, it was. "Can I fill it with poison?" He gave me a funny look, but assured me that since it had been rented out only twice in the last 3 years, filling it with poison would probably be okay. Today I need to track down 40 gallons of Round-Up. (Yes, I'm hanging my head in shame.) We need to kill 3.3 acres of Reed Canary Grass--this evil invasive species that overtakes every square inch of dirt it can find. We need to dump poison all over 3.3 acres two times so we can then plant 3 species of cool season grasses that will filter the water flowing to our creek AND keep the invasive species at bay while protecting the biodiversity of our Back Forty.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Enviro Girl + Monsanto's Best-Selling Poison = Better Planet.
It's about the greater good sometimes.