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Green Issues: Feeling Blue about being Green

July 3, 2008

It seems i’ve been inundated by green awareness lately.  I read this article in my local paper recently, retitled: “Green Confusion”, but it was originally published in the NY times as “Green Noise” and it has been echoing in my head ever since.  This is something I got to thinking about last year when I first started working on this blog (which has been neglected this last year as I stressed my way through my first year of grad school) when I wrote about green living, or rather the contradictions of trying to do so.  I identified with most of the people in this article.  I try to buy glass milk as often as possible (the fact that we seem to alternate between 3 or 4 different grocery stores which don’t all carry glass bottled milk contributes to this problem), I get most of our produce from a CSA, we recycle, use long-life bulbs, but I too long for a cheat sheet for “green living” because my intention is there, but not always the full knowledge.  What am I doing that I think is “helping”, that really isn’t?  Or isn’t helping more than the alternate choice?  

This was an issue I first visited in considering cloth diapers over disposable 8 years ago.  How do you weigh, ecologically, the impact of detergent and transportation of a cloth diaper service, over the impact of disposables?  Difficult to do is what I found after too many hours researching it.  My decision?  I started with the diaper service and switched to disposables after about 5 mos. or so.  I wasn’t able to really defend either choice.  That’s kind of how I feel about many so-called “green” choices I make.

To exasperate me even further I read later in the day (after reading about all this oversaturation of green awareness and the complexity of “doing the right thing”) another article, this one in Dwell magazine called Rethinking the Material World.  The most upsetting element of this article?: the emissions figures for the USA compared to the REST OF THE WORLD.  Our CO2 emissions are something like 5 times that of the rest of the world, and at least 2-3 times that of Europe, and yet we rejoice (or at least report) when nations make steps towards emulating our lifestyles.  I find this all very depressing to say the least.

But what do I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem?  Focus on the small things like detergent, turning off my lights, and perhaps…. deodorant?  Angry Chicken has a nice blog on making your own deodorant and shampoo that I found diverting this evening.  Shall I admit that I too have been on a natural deodorant search for many years with no avail?   Since December I have been using Dr. Hauschka Floral Deodorant and it has been working better then others, and I am not itchy as I sometimes am with traditional deodorants.  It is a little pricey though, however I justify that by averaging the cost to $5 per month– a small price to pay for social acceptance.  

I also enjoyed reading about the “no shampoo” idea– which frightens me, but also addresses my main issue I have with shampoo– not so much the ingredients (although they bother me as well) but the fact that all the waste water goes down the drain.  So, perhaps I will explore this– perhaps.  But it does bring me full circle in my thinking.  What good does it do to worry about these things?  Why do I worry at all?  I guess my main worry now, as a mother, is that my children won’t have the same world to live in that I do, or even the ability to fret over their “greenness” because the reality will be much harsher.  And perhaps even that their children won’t be able to draw such pictures of our world as my daughter can still do now.



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