Monday, April 13, 2009

Acceptance through Awareness

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

In my former life I was a shoe observer.  When meeting someone for the first time my attention was immediately drawn to their shoes.  What brand were they?  Were they heels, flats, casual?  Did they complement their outfit?  Were they well taken care of?  I was a shoe store manager working 60 hours a week.  Shoes were my life.  With a change in jobs my focus switched to apparel.  Now it was the clothes on their backs that caught my eye.  Mostly if what they were wearing was the brand I worked for and if I could recall what collection it came from.  Then came the life change.  My whole mindset was altered.  Not only did I notice the shoes on people's feet and the clothes on their backs, but also what those items were made of, where they were sold, how they got there, and what went on in manufacturing.  But it does not stop there.  Do they buy bottled water or carry their own container?  Fill their cart with organic or conventional?  Pack their groceries in disposable or reusable?  SUV or compact?  Library or bookstore?  These days I measure people with a green yardstick.

I know, I know...  It is wrong to be judgmental, but I am.  Surprisingly, I am most critical of those who are the same shade as the yardstick I measure them with.  The gas-guzzling SUV driver idling in the fast-food drive through with a vehicle full of processed frozen food packed in plastic shopping bags just does not know any better.  But the Prius driving activist who orders a latte that comes in a styrofoam cup?  Egads!  Surely you are aware of dioxins and what happens when polystyrene is burned?  Or the young volunteer who takes mass transit and is always sporting a SIGG?  It never ceases to amaze me when she pulls a plastic bottle of body spray from her backpack and proceeds to bathe it it.  *cough*cough*  Are you trying to poison me?  Do you even know what that "fakegrance" is made of?  It is like a crop duster just flew over.  Even the older much wiser than I founder of a local environmental non-profit is not immune to a slap on the hand with my green yardstick.  Paper napkins and paper towel?  Are you kidding me?!  Don't you know how much paper is wasted everyday in the U.S.?  And don't even get me started on the chlorine used to make it white!  

Lately I have caught myself all too often thinking remarks like these.  Then I start to wonder what others think of me?  What image do I portray?  

I can't believe she ordered a soda!  Surely she knows of HFCS and the implications of the U.S. becoming a giant corn monoculture?  - But, I asked for a glass and no straw!

Is she wearing makeup?  And mascara no less?!  Does she even know what's in that stuff?  It could contain mercury! - But, it is organic and I hardly ever wear it.

So, let me get this right.  You don't use any lights during the day and have everything on power strips that you switch off when not in use, but you sleep with a fan on all night?  You're asleep!  It's not like you can hear it running.  How much unnecessary CO2 is that causing? - Well, yes... But, I can't sleep without it and I save way more than most people.

Do you ever feel the need to go through life wearing a disclaimer? Or the need to explain your actions?  I do.  It makes me realize that I should not be so judgmental of my peers.  They are trying just as I am.  Judge not lest ye be judged.  Before jumping to conclusions over someone else's slight indiscretions, I should first look at my own shortcomings.  

This newfound awareness of environmental impact has led me to a greater acceptance of my fellow mankind.  Most people are just trying to survive their day, so lighten up and give them a break!  Instead of criticizing I will go forth and compliment the positive.  

You were very wise to invest in a Prius.  I should have put more thought into my last vehicle purchase.

Hey, nice SIGG.  I really need to get me one of those.

I think the work you are doing in the community is wonderful.  How can I help?
Perhaps through positive reinforcement people will be encouraged to do more.  Besides, a compliment always makes my day a little more survivable.


Heather @ SGF said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean (always trying to explain my inconsistencies). But you're right. We're all just people. We all want to be happy. And we are all doing the best we can based on what we know about the world. We all need more education, to be more in touch with the world around us, but in the meantime, we need to cut each other some slack/show some compassion. It makes the world a happier place for us all :)

Electronic Goose said...

I can relate to this. I often find myself thinking judgemental thoughts about others' (environmental) choices. I have to stop and remind myself that I wasn't always as aware as I am now, and it wouldn't have helped me if someone who was more green than me judged me--it would only help if they were kind and showed me by example rather than by words. I'd like to think that I am not as green as I will be a year from now, so I need to be treated kindly just as I treat those less green than me!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. I think some of these same thoughts. Also like you, I am working to voice the positive, the complimentary, the appreciative. I think positive reinforcement always gets better results. I strive to compliment at least one person, once a day.
We are all doing the best we can, and it's lovely when someone else recognizes our efforts.

Green Bean said...

I think we all fall prey to this. I like agreenfire's approach. One compliment a day. A habit we should all adopt.

JessTrev said...

I stopped by a green building store the other day to get some paint, and I overheard the owner talking to a customer about recycled glass tiles. I loved his attitude. He was so laissez-faire. Then the customer was like, Ohmigosh those tiles are freaking horribly expensive? The owner said, Yeah, you know, it depends on what your 'thing' is. Some people are all about energy conservation. So they'd buy the insulation and the solar panels and focus their money there. Other people are all about avoiding plastic (like Beth! FPFISH!).... You get my drift. It was a really refreshing way to look at things. We all have just so much energy and focus. As long as we're all trying in some areas, we will all succeed. Plus, like my dearly beloved always says, kaizen! Continual improvement's what I'm shooting for. Love the idea of trying to compliment more folks more of the time.

skymring said...

jesstrev and envirambo, i've had my thoughts on the exact same thing lately; we just cannot do it all. we'd be better off starting a more enviro friendly path with just picking one subject, devote ourselves to that, and then work from there. continual improvement, exactly! i've been working on a post on this for some days, but find it hard to write without actually insult people! it's a sensitive topic.


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