In theory, I am a gung-ho, tell-me-what-to-do-and-I'll-do-it environmentalist. I believe in the love and care of all creation, not just human beings. As a matter of fact, I'm one of those wackos who happens to believe that this planet would be far better off without humans (that's only in the abstract, though. Tell me that means all my loved ones -- including me -- would have to go, and I'm not quite so enthusiastic).
So, in theory, I want to save this planet. I don't particularly like the notion of this oh-so-beautiful planet becoming one of those quaint little ghost towns of the Milky Way. I can just see visitors from other galaxies carrying around their glossy brochures all about the once-thriving Planet Earth and its inevitable collapse, as they kick the tumble weeds off their boots. In practice, however, I'm not exactly the most eco-friendly person around. I marvel at those who have really changed their lives in radical ways and wonder if I have what it takes to do the same. My guess? Probably not. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. I get in my car and drive to places that are within walking distance (which I define as less than 2 miles one way). I keep promising myself that I am going to get my bike fixed and start biking, but that never gets done.
How I rationalize this behavior: I am driving a Prius for something like 9 out of every 10 local jaunts I make. The only time I drive our VW (which still gets better gas mileage than most vehicles on the road) is when Bob is out with the Prius, or I am on long road trips, because the VW gets its best mileage on long road trips.
2. I love to take long, hot baths, and we have a huge tub that takes lots of water to fill.
How I rationalize this behavior: There was actually a time in my life when I would sometimes take a shower in the morning and a bath at night. I never do that anymore. I limit baths to once or twice a week now (if that), and I sponge bathe every other day, so that I don't even take showers every day anymore. This means my hair is a nightmare (I'm the sort whose hair really looks best if washed every day), but I've grown awfully fond of scarves and hats. Why did women ever let those go out of fashion? There is no better solution for bad hair days (and I get more compliments on my hats than any other article of clothing I've ever worn.)
3. I eat animals and their milk and things made from their milk, and I eat plenty of foods that aren't grown locally. I don't particularly want to have to move to Florida in order to be able to eat my delicious citrus fruits and bananas. And until someone can manufacture fake cheese and hot dogs that come anywhere close to resembling the real things, I will not give up my carnivorous ways.
How I rationalize this behavior: I eat mostly locally. I shop only at local grocery stores and farm markets. I do not buy any animal foods that are not local or that have been factory farmed. Farming and transporting animals are one of the biggest environmental hazards. Also, I am on a 2/3 vegan eating plan (thanks to Mark Bittman's very practical and sensible book Food Matters). That means that 2 out of every 3 meals I eat is vegan, so I'm not eating a helluva a lot of the foods that cause the most damage to the environment.
4. I don't recycle everything I should recycle. When I lived in Connecticut, it was easy to recycle junk mail at the town dump. Now I have to drive 12 miles to recycle junk mail.
How I rationalize this behavior: I try to shop at places where I get food in less packaging. I recycle things I didn't used to recycle, like egg cartons and the cartons fruit comes in, because the farms and farm markets around here where I buy those things can use them. Oh, and I do make that long trek every-so-often to dump my junk mail, but if the bags get too full, and I know I'm not going that way, I have been known just to toss them in the regular garbage.
5. I buy books and more books and even more books. I shudder to think how many trees I've supported killing over the years.
How I rationalize this behavior: used books! That's recycling, right? I also frequent libraries. Okay, so I still buy quite a few new books, but hey, it's a start, right?
Oh well, at least I'm trying...Supposedly, every little bit helps.