Today I am replying to a thoughtful commentator (commenter?). My character has been called into question, and that's fair. In a round about way I have been called a hypocrite, and I don't actually deny it. I drive a car, I wash my clothes in a machine, I own a house which requires heat and light, I have a baby for whom we buy (P.C. Green, but still) disposable diapers, I'm not a raw-food vegan, I drink coffee and tea, I own all kinds of factory-made resource-based instruments... etc. etc. etc. So yes, I'm a hypocrite, but I think that's part and parcel of being a human being. We are flawed and we are broken and we can't do anything right. We screw up. But we try, and we learn, and in fact I have found that the more mistakes we make the faster we learn. So I'm fast-tracking it, apparently.
In what is part-digression and part-related-illustration, one of the things that drives me the craziest about politicians these days is their unwillingness to accept failure, or to be seen as having ever made a mistake. It is completely insane and inhuman to think that anyone, particularly anyone tasked with leading and running a country, is infallible. The bigger the responsibility, the bigger the job, and presumably the bigger the mistakes that are made along the way which, when addressed and dealt with openly, can lead to greater wisdom in both decision-making and policy-enacting. People! Soilent Green is made of PEOPLE! wake up. Government is made of people just like you and me whose capacity for perfection in anything is NIL. Anyone who pretends otherwise thinks you're an idiot.
But back to the question at hand: am I, Ben Bowen, environmental blogger, a hypocrite? But of course! It's one of the reasons I drink. ha ha. I think, unless I live squatting in a grass hut on Crown Land and only eat bugs and berries, that I will always be so. It is one of the unfortunate consequences of living in 21st-century North America. But that doesn't mean I don't want to try to defend my position. Not being capable of a complete quaquaversal should not mean that I decide to throw in the towel, buy a Hummer and an AC unit for every room, and water my lawn 24/7 all summer. I still think striving to make small differences in my lifestyle is worthwhile.
I thought it might be useful or me to detail some of those differences in one post, given that a good many of them are spread out all over the blog:
- we put our laundry on the line outside from late March to early October
- Among many dietary choices I've made, I don't eat red meat, since ruminants (primarily cows in N.America, but sheep on the opposite side of the world) produce methane, which harms the atmosphere
- I try, when I drive, not to exceed about 110km/hr since anything over that (or, in fact, under about 80k) burns more gas in my car, and I walk to the grocery store as often as I can, though carrying home a full load of groceries hurts my back, so I mostly do drive.
- I don't shower as often as a normal person should. On average every 5 or 6 days, and then as quickly as possible. I hope this saves water.
- I drink tap water, not bottled.
- we have window AC units we put in maybe 5 or 6 nights a summer when it's either that or sleep in your own juices. Otherwise, just fans.
- I turn lights off whenever I can, and try to be conscientious about electricity use.
- I agonize at the grocery store over my food purchases, trying to weigh cost against local food against free-range against organic. It's a horror show. ugh. I always leave feeling like a failure.
...do I want to live in the Stone Age again? Well, if we could still have medicines and civil society, yes. I'd be happy to find my own food through foraging and hunting, and I could make do without running water or electric amenities. I often dream heartachingly about picking up and moving to a remote plot of land somewhere on the east coast just so I didn't feel so conflicted and co-opted.
So I guess my bottom line is, I feel I'm doing my almost-best in what is an interminable uphill battle. I want to do the right thing. I want to build a better, more sustainable, more beautiful, more natural world for my children and my descendants, but I'm not getting it right very much. I know that. It sucks. It makes me sad. But my children give me the motivation to keep on keepin' on, so I do, even though I'm aware that just by living in North America I'm part of the problem. There are so many forces working against me that I bend and break under them all the time.