Thursday, January 28, 2010

One thing leads to another...

Musings from the Greenhabilitator...

Earlier this month I traded in my {plastic} bottle of shampoo-and-conditioner-in-one for a shampoo bar. That's actually what I started writing about tonight, but things took a different turn and I put that post on hold for now.

Sometimes I think doing trivial things like trading in a bottle of shampoo for a bar is just about the lamest thing going. The words of No Impact Man, Colin Beaven, (in his interview with Beth of Fake Plastic Fish) ring in my head so often when I do things like this ~
"...there’s a meme that goes like this: If we all just do one little bit, everything will be okay. That is actually not true, and it’s dangerous. Because if we don’t stop burning coal within the next eight years we’ll hit a tipping point and the planet itself will start to warm itself up. So this meme that’s out there about if we just all do one little bit, it’s false. We actually have to look at substantial lifestyle changes. That is not to say that everybody has to be No Impact Man over night. It is to say that the changes that we make should be meaningful, right?"
Here we are on the brink of global disaster and I'm thinking about shampoo? What kind of eco-hero am I? Shouldn't I be motivating the masses...or working on environmental campaigns...or...saving the whales or something???

That's pretty much when I stopped writing my blow-by-blow about how gross my hair has been feeling to reflect on how lame I am what I should be doing instead. Beth convinced Clorox to Take Back the Filter. Crunchy Chicken motivates hundreds (thousands?) of people with her challenges about freezing your buns and using cloth wipes. What can I do?

The truth is: I work, I take care of three kids under the age of 5, I act as chief domestic goddess, bill-payer, taxi driver, lunch-packer, cleaning lady and I just have no time or energy (never mind the brain cells needed) at the end of the day to be doing things of that caliber.

So here I sat. Thinking.

I decided to look back at Colin's blog, thinking maybe something would strike me which, of course, it did. It was Colin's Top 10 Eco-Lifestyle Changes. Number 10 on his list~
"Believe with all your heart that how you live your life makes a difference to all of us. We are all interconnected. We make a difference to each other on many different levels. Every step towards living a conscious life where we consider the consequences of our actions provides support to everyone else--whether you know it or not--who is trying to do the same thing. We are the masters of our destinies. Let's act as though it is so."
While I really would love to do something huge, something just isn't the time for me. For now, I keep it simple. I teach my kids the importance of being good stewards of the earth, I act as a good steward myself, I try out silly little things and pass my ideas and support on to others. I hope that I set a good example and inspire others to tread lightly as well. For the time being at least, that is my "big thing".


Anonymous said...

I hear you, but you know, you have just motivated me to look for shampoo bars too.... so, if thats one person that has come back with a comment then maybe you have actually motivated 10 that havent commented... butterflies wings! See, every little bit does count! You can only climb Mount Everest one step at a time!

panamamama said...

Those are all big things I think. Especially teaching our kids.

Eco Yogini said...

ugh, i have issues with shampoo.... and then I decided that I could do some other things... like decrease my dependance on a consumer lifestyle and spending. Decrease my driving adn dependance on oil... and not worry so much about the crappy shampoo bar that has been my nemesis. lol.

I really do believe that what you are doing IS big- I agree with panamamama- teaching your kids IS a huge deal. We do what we can everyday, slowly making the adjustment to living a low-impact, low dependance lifestyle because trying to do it all at once is overwhelming and unrealistic.

but keeping the ultimate "goal" in mind- like reading that reality check from colin and beth is also essential so that we don't become caught up in complacency.

You ARE an EcoHero :)

The Greenest Dollar said...

This was a great post! Very thought provoking, and it did put those "little steps" like using less plastic into perspective. I do think that those little steps can make a difference when they're multiplied by a million people, but you're right: we really should examine larger lifestyle changes too.

Wendy said...

I think Colin actually means, in the first quote, that it's not enough to change all one's lightbulbs to CFLs and then, think, "Ah. I did my one little thing, and now I can relax and go to the grocery store in my SUV and buy the peaches from Guatemala."

It's taking each one little step toward a more sustainable lifestyle that makes the difference, and one little thing does count ... provided it's followed by another little thing, and another little thing, and another little thing ;).

Anyway, good work on making the switch. At some point your hair won't feel so icky ... or you'll get used to it and it won't be a big deal anymore. Just think of it as this is how your hair should feel ;). A vinegar rinse, occasionally, helps, by the way.

Sandy said...

In a way, I disagree with Colin. While it's admirable and wonderful if we can do the BIG things, the fact that many of us are doing the little things could become a paradigm shift; if enough people stop using plastic bottles of shampoo, they won't make them anymore. So, every little bit IS significant. And if we teach our chldren well, they'll take it farther. I find tht people make vast changes in waves...a seemingly little thing like eating locally or lowering the temperature is like a mental gateway, making more dramatic change intellectually possible. We're all linked.

Rosa said...

Those little steps add up! It's been about 15 years for me, little by little (with some backsliding in there too) and I'm at the point where we visit "normal" Americans and it's like visiting another culture.

Holly said...

Teaching your kids and setting an example is the biggest thing you could possibly do. HUGE. I don't know about you, but for me that is no simple task. It's an ongoing, lifelong challenge, regardless of how clean or dirty your hair is. :) Keep up the good work.

Celeste said...

Very interesting as I walked down to our local farmers market and found someone selling soap.
After asking a few questions I purchased four bars.
For me, change is great. For the husband, that comes in baby steps.

Wonder-ful said...

Let me try to sum up my thoughts this way:

I got burned out trying to go the political ("the end is near!"-ish) route. Eventually, I got the courage and heart to stop talking and just make some small changes for myself.

Inspired by a blog post of someone elses experiences/experiment, I would be encouraged to at least try something different. Someone else would see a change, get curious, ask me about it, then want to try something themselves.

At one point I couldn't see how small things (like changing my purse) could have any effect on others. But when family started seeing their bills drop (drastically), and co-workers began to ask where I got the "pink fishy bag" (a reycled, fair trade purse that can withstand five year olds)... I realized that it took someone getting out and doing the small things, showing that they worked and were practical, to get others to rethink what they thought about greener living practices.

Even in the classroom, I read "Why Should I Recycle?" to my kindergardeners. Immediately, they start checking for the chasing arrows in the cafeteria and being (somewhat) mindful of using all the art supplies (and not tossing leftovers away). You can change a whole community by showing the next generation the positive impact your actions have on your own life.

Linda A said...

If you are raising 3 kids, then you are doing something big and don't you lose sight of that, Momma.

Linda at Citizen Green

Mindful Momma said...

You are a great eco-hero and super-Mom - that's what you are!! Don't fall into the 'it doesn't matter' trap. I get into modes like that too...where I think that the changes I make are no big deal but they are....and I LOVE the approach that you should "believe with all your heart that the way you live your life makes a difference." Amen!!

Daisy said...

If you keep making small lifestyle changes, your impact will be significantly lower.

Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish said...

Actually, Colin didn't mean that the small things don't matter. He meant that in the end, they are not enough if our goal is to prevent the horrific end we are moving toward if we don't make big changes fast.

But Colin and I agree that personal changes are tremendously important.

In fact, I wrote a post this week -- 8 Reasons Why Personal Changes Matter -- that I believe Colin would agree with. Please read it and you'll see how I perceive the personal and activist join together.

The Nurturing Pirate said...

I couldn't disagree more about the small changes not mattering. They are often the First Steps, which lead to something bigger. And lots of small changes together DO make a big impact. Plus, when you share those changes with others, you inform and inspire others. Influencing others? Now THAT's a Big Change!

I've signed on for a challenge by Hip Mountain Mama called One Small Change. It's actually four changes over the course of the first four months of the year, leading up until Earth Day. I blogged about it here: here's the link to the challenge:

Keep up the good work!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin