>I have a talent recognized by me coworkers; I can rationalize almost anything. This skill comes in handy when applying for grant money or writing persuasive papers. In the real world, rationalizing helps balance wishes with reality. I wish I could be more eco-conscious, but when all is said and done, I’m pretty darn good. Here are my confessions, along with the rationale for each weakness.
1. I don’t own a clothesline.
Family members have seasonal allergies, so hanging clothes in the pollen-filled breeze is a bad idea. Sleeping in sheets dried outside will trigger sneezing and wheezing at the least, hives at worst.
2. I use commercial laundry detergent and dishwasher soap, too.
Time is money and money is time, so making and experimenting with DIY soaps isn’t practical. I do use anti-static dryer balls instead of fabric softener in all loads but delicate. The Balls don’t work as well with sweaters.
3. I drive a minivan.
We still need to move La Petite back and forth to college a few more times, and the minivan is also the only vehicle (short of a full sized van) that will hold Amigo’s recumbent 3-wheeler. This is a need, not a want. My elderly minivan (a 1998 Pontiac Transport-Montana) would have qualified in the recent Cash for Clunkers rebate. I didn’t do it. The new, and smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles are great in concept, but I don’t think the program would have rewarded me for trading one minivan in for another, not to mention the challenge of making car payments and tuition at the same time.
4. Chuck (the husband with the cool shoes) buys bottled water, and I don’t stop him.
This is a convenience issue. He needs to be able to grab a bottle and go, taking it with him on the job. Amigo and I solve this by filling our reusable bottles at the school’s water fountains (bubblers, in the local vernacular). Chuck doesn’t. Oh, well, it’s a balance.
5. I use paper coffee filters.
I compost them. ‘Nuff said.
6. I don’t compost year-round.
This is a weather/ climate problem. I’ve noticed that scraps placed in the bin in October or November will still be whole and recognizable in late March or April when it’s time to spread the compost and till the garden plot. It’s simply too cold here in the Northern Realms for the process to happen naturally. The bin itself is in the back of the yard, difficult to get to in the snowy Wisconsin winters. I’m working on this dilemma; I’ve placed the new composter where I can reach it in midwinter, and I plan to let the big bin sit for an additional year. Eventually, I’ll be letting one sit and decompose while I fill the other, and then switch.
7. We don’t use cloth bags at the grocery store – well, not all the time.
Amigo and Chuck do the grocery shopping and do it well. They prefer not to be bogged down in details like bringing bags to the store. When it’s just me, I re-use the paper bags they bring home. If we’re just stopping in for a few things, we use the cloth bags I keep in a convenient place at home or in the car’s glove box. It’s a start, and we’re getting better. We hardly ever get “new” plastic bags in the house any more. Again (see #4) it’s about balance.
So on we go, along the long and winding road of getting greener each day. It’s discouraging sometimes, when spreading the word feels like trying to teach kids to work on their math without talking (if you know the secret, I’m listening). But as my eco-colleague says over at the Green Phone Booth, feeling overwhelmed doesn’t have to mean becoming immobile.