Monday, March 8, 2010

APLS Carnival: Green musings from a mere Padawan

This month's APLS Carnival posting from Jenn the Greenmom, who is not a Jedi yet

APLS stands for Affluent Persons Living Sustainably--but what exactly does "affluent" mean? I sort of grew up thinking that "we" were ordinary and "those people in the big houses" were affluent. But when I come right down to it, considering how many people in the world do not know where their next meal is coming from, the fact that I have time and opportunity to sit at a computer and write blog entries probably qualifies me as "affluent" to some way of thinking. I get to make choices. It's all too tempting to say, "Sigh, I really wish we had a 40" tv and could afford to just go out and buy the new iPads the day they come out, too bad we're not affluent or anything," or be woebegone because we live in the "poor" side of town and frequently take our kids to playdates at friends' houses that are probably worth easily three times what ours would go for even in a good market. But that would be sort of disingenuous, know what I mean? Sort of like when Some People put up their noses at families with two working parents and go, "well, we chose to tighten our belts and give up some of the luxuries so that Our Children Could Have One Parent At Home" with the tacit--or not so tacit--assumption that those families with two working parents are doing it because they would rather have the luxuries than put the children first, not because without the two incomes some of us, not to mention our children, Wouldn't Have A Roof Or Food, and stuff like that...(sorry, personal sore spot! Opinions expressed here not necessarily representative of the Booth collective and all...) The point being that everyone's situation is different, and any assumptions any of us make about the choices and priorities of someone else, especially when we assume the next person's life/priorities/choices necessarily resemble our own. "Affluent" is a word that can have a lot of meanings to a lot of different people...but it honestly doesn't keep me up nights.

Then there's the other half of the title: "living sustainably." That's the one that keeps catching me.

This month's carnival topic is about the things that we choose as our green priorities, the "must do's" and the "let this one go's," the things we go to the wall for and the things we let slide. And as I thought about it, I realized there are a LOT of things I let slide, and I honestly feel hardly worthy to wear the cape of a Boother most of the time. Last week in a fit of hungry exhaustion I pulled into a drivethrough and ate an ammoniaburger. (Fortunately for my future, it was kind of gross, so I don't think I'll do that again.) Our composting efforts pretty much went to hell in a handbasket when our kitchen became infested with fruit flies that seemed to never go away. We're trying to get rid of paper towels, and we're making progress, but it's slow going, and I live for my ziploc bags. We pretty much never use public transit.

Okay, compared to some women in my circles who drive Escalades and go shopping every other week for the latest and most fashionable clothes they will probably never wear and shop at Those Stores and order takeout every other day and go through a twelve-pack or two of bottled water every week and have never heard the words "fair trade," I'm probably comparatively sustainable. (See? I'm judging other people's choices too. It's a slippery slope. Must stop.) I buy clothes on ebay, I cook from scratch, I turn thermostats down and lights off. I buy organic, especially dairy products. But I have such, such a long way to go.

Which got me to thinking. APLS. With the lovely image of that sweetest and most wonderful of Whole Natural Foods, the thing that has been a symbol of health and goodness since long before the green movement woke up to what we're eating. The apple. And especially in late winter like this, when most of the springtime greeningness is out of reach and the only sustainable choices are the ones that feel way too hard core (no pun intended) for me to manage right now, I don't really feel like I qualify to claim that symbol. So I thought about it...

And thus I am now, completely unofficially and without any sanction from the original APLS creators, probably in violation of some copyright but meaning it only in good humor and admiring homage, claiming title to an APLS splinter group, one for those who try but can't manage to stay quite as unprocessed as the apple itself but who are trying their best. Our name and logo:

Applesauce. Processed and preserved, yes, but with such a continuum of levels that just knowing it's applesauce doesn't really tell you that much about it. Did you make it yourself in your crockpot and use a hot water canner for it? (The jar above can answer yes and yes.) Did it come from the store, but is it made out of organic apples and with no added sugars? Did it come in a big glass recyclable or reusable jar, or in little individual plastic cups? And do you have any clever thoughts for how to use those cups after the applesauce is gone from it? (Seed-starting, maybe?) And most important, perhaps, do we know the answers to those questions?

As my seven-year-old would intone in as deep a voice as he can manage, "The Force is strong with me, but I am not a Jedi yet." Am I living sustainably? Really? I don't know...and I'm not sure I want to know, because at the moment I'm doing my best. But I'm doing better than I was last year at this time, by a long shot, and hopefully next year I'll be doing better still. I guess that's the best I can hope for, right?

--Jenn the Greenmom


Farmer's Daughter said...

That's cute, I like it. Great acronym, and I think it's also a great way to incorporate people who may not feel the sustainable title fits them.

I'm totally comfortable with living sustinably myself, but I know that when my baby arrives (due tomorrow!) I'm going to just be muddling my way through and I certainly will not be an expert at sustainable parenting. I'm even planning to use some (gasp!) disposable diapers while I find my footing. And I don't think there's anything wrong with admitting we're not there yet, and planning to improve in the future.

Wonderer said...

applesauce - I LOVE it! And I so feel it. At times I'm rather APLS, other times much more APLSOS. Thanks for a great post.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

I love the APLSOS idea! And there should be a subcategory, Affluent People Living Sort-of Sustainably to Avoid Major Temper Tantrums from Their Children. (Guess that doesn't make a very good acronym...) After my cooking from scratch experiment last month, my children demanded that I start buying cereal for the weekends again, and my oldest was so happy to eat cereal again that he wrote about it in his journal last night.

@Abbie - Congratulations!!! Hope your baby doesn't take too long in coming.

Wonder-ful said...

Three things...

1) THANK YOU x One Million for saying this.

2) I too have me issues... though mine are with people who think I need to get a "real" job (and by real, a corporate career complete with big paycheck and benefits... but mostly the paycheck). I thought I had a real job when I started teaching (aide), mentoring and became a caregiver for Grandma. Aparantly it's not real enough for some people.

C... er, 3) Re: the applesauce cups. We save small cups for things like holding sauces and dips, or to hold paint for the kids when they do their class art projects. Even the square plastic covers for things (the kind that get glued to cardboard with the item sandwhiched inbetween) become holders for art stuff.

Wendy (The Local Cook) said...

LOVE it. You're right, it's so easy to think "I'm not even remotely affluent," but then I realize that compared to the world population, I sort of am.

Elle Bee said...

Hahha! This is a great post. And so true. I try soooo hard to be APLS, but really, I'm APLSOS. But I think APLSOS is good. If everyone in the US lived in an APLSOS way, we'd be so much better off. :o)

thirsty said...

thank you a million times from me too for this post!
I lurk around the green phone booth feeling inspired, but sometimes also feeling "not-worthy" to be in the presence of the "real" eco-warriors.
you have made me feel proud of the little I do, and optimistic about doing more.
thank you!

Steph @ Greening Families said...

I firmly believe that in America, living sustainably has to be a process since it is so contrary to the way mainstream society is structured. I'm not sure there is even an end to the journey, a thought which makes me excited and nervous at the same time!


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