Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's not easy being green (or is it?)

Last week I wrote a column on getting used to the new local mandate that garbage bags must be clear, or they will not be collected. The rule, which has stirred up plenty of controversy and resentment, has been put in place to ensure that people aren't throwing recyclables in the trash.

In my column I poked fun at myself for being so set in my garbage bag ways that I resented having to eliminate kitchen catcher bags from the equation and just toss everything in one large clear bag. I talked about how quickly I will undoubtedly get used to the change and how if we were all a little more willing to let go of some of our habits, such as the use of disposable plastic water bottles, to form new ones, we could have a huge environmental impact, a positive one for once.

This week, the negative response, arguing that the blame for excess trash should be put on manufacturers, and that we poor little citizens should bear no responsibility, being printed in our paper comes from none other than my editor. She also argues against the fact that we have to pay for garbage tags, and the fact that we have to sort our recycling.

I don't fit in here.

But then, I'm used to it.

Growing up I was one of two kids who brought their lunch to school in reusable containers and depending on the meal, a cloth napkin, and stainless steel cutlery. I'm not sure what elementary school is like now in that regard but at the time it was so unusual that I received an environmental award.

We were hardly a radical environmentalist family. We lived on the grid and played with plastic toys. But compared to my peers, it seemed I was always having to sacrifice more for the sake of the environment.

I remember whining to my mom that it wasn't fair when she refused to use the car to take us places we could walk or ride our bikes. "Why does it always have to be us? Why can't someone else ride their bike so that we can have a turn doing what's easy?" I asked. "Why can't I bring plastic packed lunchables and fruit snacks to school and let some other kid try to remember to bring home her damn tupperware in her backpack?"

I get it now. For too long people have been leaving custody of our planet and our resources up to someone else. We just choose not to think about it, so we don't have to take responsibility. We've taken the easy and shortsighted route almost every time we were offered a choice.

You don't have to look far to see the impact of our refusal to think beyond ourselves. Don't believe in Global Warming? Here's something you can see with your own two eyes.

It's easy enough being green. It's not so easy being the pain in the ass who brings up issues that no one wants to think about and even has the audacity to suggest that we all have a responsibility to deal with them.

For my part, this week I'll be continuing my one-woman crusade to get the local post office to quit throwing thousands of flyers a week into the trash instead of recycling them.

It's not easy when you don't fit in. But, depending on your surroundings, sometimes it's kind of awesome when you stand out.

This is my entry for the March Blog Carnival over at 20-something bloggers!


Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...


Elle Bee... said...

Love this. People are adverse to change anywhere. People are quick to shift the blame to manufacturers so they don't have to own up to their own bad habits. It's saddening, really.

If we create the change, the world will adapt. It's as simple as that. Good for you, for standing up for what you believe in.

Mr. Apron said...

Fitting in? Jesus. I can't think of a place or a society where that's a goal I'd willingly seek, or ever find a possibility.

Rock on with your cloth napkins and your cutlery, just as I'll keep rocking on with my 50-year-old non-profit biddies and their salsa-dip-receptacle-sized brooches.

.bethany. said...

It's okay. I'm that person, too. I used to work in retail and my manager totally chewed me out for putting too much in one of the bags to avoid giving people thousands of bags.

The Panic Room said...

people can get so annoyed when they have to do something different, even if they KNOW it's better for everyone else. Keep battling hero. I think it's awesome you are trying to get that paper to behave themselves.

insomniaclolita said...

Stand out for the better is always good, you know. If people cant see it, then it's their losses really.

Leslie said...

Okay so I want to know why people have to use 6 different body washes in plastic containers instead of a humble chunk of soap from a teensy piece of biodegradable cardboard or paper wrap???Huh? What's up with that? PS You're great!

Sarah said...

Laurie: Thanks!

Elle: Exactly! It drives me nuts how it's always someone else's fault or problem.

M.A. I'm telling you, those brooches are the next big thing in portable dishware.

Bethany: The other women at the dress shop used to laugh at me for pulling recycle-ables out of our trash. (That's correct. I'm gross.)

T.P.R.: Aw, thanks!

Lolita: I think you're right!

Leslie: hahaha. Oh man, it never ends does it? All right. I'll work on eliminating those too. Maybe I'll have fun trying some of those solid shampoos from Lush!

Just Playing Pretend said...

Amazing! I'm in on the elementary school ways and sadly families like yours are still unique. They still sport the plastic lunchables instead of reusable. Breaks my heart, every time.

Mari said...

You are making me laugh again, 'cause I had to ask a sullen person 3 times for the tupperware out of her backpack the other day, and I was also the kid who had round sandwiches because our mother baked all her bread in a coffee can!

Mr. Apron said...

One more comment about this post-- because I forgot, and that's what I do best:

Look at the expression on the girl in the overcoat. You know she's thinking, "Oy... what the fuck am I doing posing with this jagoff?"

And, well, his expression, you just don't know, do you? That's what creeps me out about full-body costumes. He could be doing anything in there. And it's always a he. No woman would demoralize herself wearing that stupid fucking thing.

Sarah said...

JPP: Yeah. Unfortunately I suspected that might not have changed.

Mari: Coffee can bread! That sounds like something I need to look into.

Mr. A: ha. Sorry to burst your bubble. I happen to know it was a teenage girl inside that turtle suit.