Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Un-Earthy Days

Post Earth Month bleatings from EnviRambo.

I find it a bit ironic that I have dedicated the past month to events that focus on sustainable living, yet my life at home has been anything but. By all outward appearances I am a green guru. Planning a local foods cooking competition; touring the elementary school garden with Will Allen; hosting screenings of Fresh, Food Inc, and No Impact Man; CSA farm tours; Earth Day concert; Earth Fair; Green Expo. When in reality I am scarfing down sugary processed cereal and soda for breakfast; have not given more than a sideways glance at my garden; fed my family more frozen food than I care to admit; gave in to the temptation of meat; enjoyed the convenience of using the dryer; threw food scraps in the trash rather than compost; starved my worms; unapologetically used an entire box of kleenex; left my computer on for a week straight; cranked up the heat; idled in the drive-through; took my car for short trips... the list of eco-sins goes on and on. Under normal circumstances I am a very eco-conscious person, but when stressed, rushed, or sick all eco-bets are off. Why is that?

I think that is my biggest challenge. It is not eating local or organic, avoiding plastic, taking my own bags, cooking from scratch, seeking out phantom power, freezing my buns off, making my own cleaning products, line drying my clothes, or any of the other million decisions we make on a daily basis. It is sticking with those decisions when times get tough.

When every hanky in the house is soaking wet with snot I just want something soft and dry against my skin. Twenty minutes and two box of tissues later, I have decimated a forest and wasted countless gallons of water in the process. I have not used the heat on my dryer in over a year - until this month. Looking back it seems silly since the weather has been unseasonably warm. I do not think we have had a day under 60 degrees since February and rain, what rain? No excuse not to hang my clothes on the line and enjoy some sunshine while doing it. Still I was pressed for time and the laundry was mounting, so I copped out and in the dryer they went. I am sure when the electric bill comes it will be a harsh reminder of why I gave it up in the first place. Food was the hardest hit area this past month and always seems to be the first to go. Home-cooked meals gave way to processed, packaged, frozen food and overpriced meals out. Not to mention all the extra packaging and waste that goes along with it, as evident by the increase in our trash.

How do you hold to your eco-values and keep your sanity when just getting through the day seems like a chore?


The Mom said...

I find it to be a constant struggle as well. After staying up late with my son to watch Food Inc, we had a crazy day. While on the way to an Earth Day celebration with our Nature club, we stopped for Wendy's because I ran out of time. Somehow in the pursuit of green and healthy, I get too busy to actually practice what I preach. I clearly don't have the answer, but wanted to sympathize.

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

Planning meals ahead is my key I find one day where I can devote the entire day to being in the kitchen + making homemade frozen meals + often one ingredient can be used in several dishes, so it's ultimately time effective.

Kellie said...

I think these are the times when you just have to cut yourself some slack. I think of Erin's 80/20 rule. If you're true to your values for most of the year but Earth Month gets chaotic, then you do what you need to do to survive and pick up the pieces when it's over.

With all you've planned, hosted and run this month, you've affected a lot of lives!

susanna eve said...

practice is what helps for me. Once you have been using cloth hankies for example for years, I find that I am less tempted to reach for a roll of toilet paper when I have a really runny nose. Another trick is simply not having temptations around, you can't reach for kleenex if it isn't in the house:)
Making new habits is difficult initially but once they are established it gets easier.

Rosa said...

Just take a deep breath and forgive yourself.

And then, in a few weeks, when you have gotten back into your groove - sit down and make a plan for failure. The #1 best plan is, find a friend with similar values and ask him or her to pick up your slack next time you have a big project on your hands - to cook, or do laundry, or take your kids off your hands a little.

But in general, for the little stresses - find a local restaurant or takeout place that cooks in a way you can support; check out the fast food places your kids like, and figure out the least bad option (there's a whole chunk of the McDonald's $1 menu that comes in paper instead of plastic, at least; or Wendy's has the vegetarian baked potato but it's in plastic); buy a box of recycled tissues and stick them up in the top shelf of the bathroom cabinet; teach your kids to hang up the laundry.

You're not Wonderwoman (plus she had no kids, and a jet.) The whole point of this thing is to change the social structure to make the good choices easier. You're doing a good job on that front!

Also, I'm so jealous you got to meet Will Allen!

Robbie said...

When things get busy, you have to make choices, and frankly beating yourself up sets you up for failure. Get well, get rested, then pick yourself back up again.

And if you have a snotty house like it sounds you did, you get a pass. ;)

Wonder-ful said...

I try focusing on what we can do or how far we've come. Last week, I did No Impact Week and it would have been a total disaster if I ignored the effort put into trying the things that intimidated me (like composting). It not only rained, but it poured the majority of the week. Grandma was in recovery from surgery and not having a good week. We went through double the bed pads we normally do. Oh, and to top it all off.. it was that time of the month. Nothing seemed to go right! But by the end of the week I was really happy that for at least 15 minutes a day, I could get up and take care of the compost items... that at the end of the week, we had the least number of garbage bags in our trash can since we moved in almost 20 years ago... and I lost 7 lbs. I figure, if I can do those small things each day, even on the bad days, then it's still a success.

Juliana Crespo said...

Hang in there! I go through this, too, and what helps me is knowing the next day is a new day. We all slip now and then, but understanding that it could be done differently is enough sometimes in that it encourages us to eventually get back on the right path. It's hard once we get off ... but once we get back on ... we remember why we love it so much. Thank for your honesty!

Daisy said...

Planning ahead helps a lot. If I don't plan ahead, I get home and don't have the energy to think, much less defrost and cook something from scratch.

Condo Blues said...

It helps that most of the green things I do are habit and just the way we do things here. I also have several ways to do something which helps if time is short to do it the greenest way. I like Erin's 80/20 rule too. If I know I've got a busy time coming up I try to cook ahead or cook double batches and then freeze one for later.

knutty knitter said...

I have a few things I can prepare, cook and serve in 10 minutes flat. They live in jars in my cupboards :)

Apart from that - don't beat yourself up too much, delegate wherever possible and don't have temptation within reach :)

Actually, you will find that habits,once set in place, will happily do themselves on auto pilot. It just takes a bit of time.

viv in nz

Farmer's Daughter said...

Thanks for the confession! Since my baby arrived, it looks like I could have written this post!

Zee @GreenBlossoms said...

I really enjoyed reading this post because I can soooo relate with you! I, too, have been scarfing down sugary foods and soda; forgot to bring my reusable bag on several occasions, enjoyed the convenience of using the dryer, left my computer on for hours and who knows what else. I'm guilty, yes, and it really can be a struggle to practice what you preach. Sometimes I justify it by saying that I've only recently started going green so it's okay to forget or to "cheat". But then my conscience bothers me!

It takes a lot of discipline, so I also ask family members and friends to remind me of my green duties. Sometimes, we need some poking too. :)

Sara said...

It's hard, but old habits stick better than new ones. So it will probably just take time. And you can always remove the temptation altogether, if you are ready to take that big step (no dryer, no car, etc.)

But I struggle with this too - it's a tough one.


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