Ponderings from a too-detail-oriented SustainaMom...
Is our attention to detail impeding our green progress?
I recently went online to order a $20 item. In order to get free shipping, I needed to add another $5 to my order. I had been wanting some more reusable grocery bags as some of mine are wearing out beyond repair. This was the perfect excuse to get a couple of bags. I wanted something sturdy, and I wanted to choose the greenest option.
I looked at canvas bags. I read dozens of reviews and worried over reports that the bags would shrink after washing them. I looked at bags made from recycled drink bottles. I compared sizes. I compared strap length. I compared prices.
I looked at dozens of options. I called my sister to ask her opinion — what is most practical? What is the greener option?
Two hours later — seriously, it may have been even longer — I decided on the perfect bags. I added them to my cart.
They were not eligible for free shipping.
I wasted hours trying to be frugal, practical and eco-conscious.
That is not very practical. In terms of lost time that I could’ve been working or playing with my child, it was not a frugal way to spend an afternoon. And it resulted in my mom buying me bags that are not at all eco-friendly after I complained to her about the waste of an afternoon. (Thanks, Mama, I love them!)
I run into this all the time.
Should I buy the glass jar of peanut butter even though it is huge and we’ll never eat that much? Or is it okay to buy the smaller, cheaper plastic container of peanut butter?
I dutifully bought expensive cage-free, organic eggs for months — and then I started reading that “cage-free” doesn’t really mean what you think it means. And then I saw a list that reported my egg producer of choice was not one of the good guys. (Anyone know where that list is? The link circulated on Facebook a while back but now I can’t find it.) Today, I stare at the egg cartons in distress during every shopping trip, not wanting to pay extra money to a company that is scamming me with its “cage-free” label but not sure what my best option is.
The list of agonizing decisions goes on and on. Buying a water bottle is a week-long research process. I’m not sure I’ll maintain my sanity if I ever have to buy another car.
My decision-making process is inefficient. In part, it is just a personality flaw of mine. I research things to death. In part, I’m still learning how to evaluate what is most important. Like my canvas bags: is it more important to choose a bag that prevents waste from hitting the landfill or to find a bag that is biodegradable?
Did you know there is research about how we make decisions? It is really quite fascinating. Don't Overthink It: 5 Tips for Daily Decision-Making over at 99% sums up some of the research.
Apparently I’m a “maximizer,” not a “satisficer.” Even though I spend far more time and energy making a decision than a satisficer, I’m less likely to be satisfied with my choice. I need to transform into someone who can identify the most important criteria and then go with the first option that meets those criteria.
I also do not choose my battles well:
- That peanut butter that I buy once a year? Is it really that big a deal? I buy it when I’m camping so glass probably isn’t the best bet even though I am trying to cut down plastic consumption.
- Those eggs that I buy at least twice a month — that is a bigger deal because I do buy buy them more frequently and should try harder to support good farms.
- Instead of agonizing over canvas bags for hours on end, I should be researching weatherstripping or other home improvement projects that can make an ongoing difference in my footprint.