Saturday, May 23, 2009

Environmentalists are a Bunch of Hypocrites

Some people think most environmentalists are hypocrites. David Suzuki used a bus to tour the country. Al Gore flew around on a jet, and he's got lots of money. Somehow you're not a true or pure environmentalist unless you're penniless and live like a hermit.

I don't think it's hypocritical to try to do everything we can for the environment, but not do everything there is. A better word for it is imperfect. I suggest people bike everywhere because I do, and it feels great. And sometimes I suggest people do things I can't do, but I'm upfront about not being able to do it myself. The thought of "crunchy underwear" stops Vanessa from trashing her dryer. My stoppers are all food-related.

I used to be a vegetarian. It's clearly a more sustainable and healthier way to live. But feeding picky children broke me. They love meat and aren't as thrilled with vegetables. I caved. My partner was an even stricter vegetarian, insisting on organic everything for years. He fell off the horse on a stop at a convenience store during a long trip. Beef jerky at the cash register did him in.

And I read the 100-mile diet. Local food, unprocessed, is a fantastic idea. But throughout the book it really seemed that this kind of diet requires one person's full time services to find and prepare food. We just don't have that kind of time. And my kids barely tolerate potatoes once a week. There would be a mutiny if we ate them daily for months. This is something I might try after the kids are on their own. It would be far better if I could do it now and teach them a life lesson, but I think it's a lesson they'd fight hard to avoid learning.

In the movie Go Further, Woody Harrelson tells us that the best thing we can each do for the environment is to eat one less meat dish each week. I can do that. At dinner we actually only eat meat 2-3 times/week. I don't eat any for breakfast or lunch. I try to console my conscience about this. Yet I still fall for processed meals. I'm not up to learning to cook from scratch right now. The learning curve is too steep for me. And that's okay - for now.

I do a lot, but I don't do it all. The little bits we each do have an effect. If we do nothing because we can't do it all, then we'll have no effect at all. The former option seems infinitely wiser.

Any other stoppers to environmental perfection?


Teresa said...

My stopper: living in the country, 'cause it takes so much more fuel to live.

I mentioned this in another comment on another topic ... we have fuel-efficient vehicles, a push/rotary mower (what do you call them, anyway?) and hand clippers -- we run on Bullfrog Power. But it's just not practical to get groceries in the next town (there's no grocery store of any kind within biking distance), and my volunteering and work necessitates a car -- big time.

But I believe you're right, and that we do what we can. In my case, food is where I (kind of) shine: home baking, tons of fresh produce, no prepared foods. But that's because I have the luxury of time -- and boy howdy, does it ever take a lot of time to shop for and prepare these meals, day after day. It's my thing, though, so it's worth it, health-wise and setting-an-example-for-the-kids-wise. We do what we can, and you know, I find that there's more and more I can do, too -- once you're in the mindset of doing at all.

Marie said...

Living in a city (of sorts) means we take the car to escape to the bush up north. When the kids are gone and I'm done work, we can live in the woods, but for now I cringe every time we pack up the car. It's a huge moral dilemma for me. The immediate pleasure and excitement of going canoeing again outweighs the long term consequences in my head. But there's still that niggling bit of knowledge that I'm contributing to the mess we're in. I don't drive anywhere else so I can feel a bit better about these trips, but I know that's just a rationalization.

It's like using minimal water to wash dishes so I can be allowed longer showers. I should also stop having long showers! And I should stop going up north whenever the mood strikes. There's a line from Heat that fits this dilemma well:

"Remember that progress now depends on the exercise of fewer opportunities."

Yet I'm still going up. How much worse will things have to get before I stop thinking it's even remotely okay to take pleasure trips so far away??

Teresa said...

Ah, but those trips have another benefit: teaching your children to value the environment. While you're there, your kids are learning to appreciate and be stewards of the land -- and that's a huge benefit, with long-term positive effects.

We can't live completely carbon-neutral and still live, learn, teach, and work ... but it's our careful weighing of the necessity of each action that counts.

Isn't it the Wiccans (and many other spiritualities) that take a moment to thank the Earth before taking food from the garden? Nothing wrong with enjoying the beautiful world, as long as we're always mindful of whether our impact also has positive effect.

Bird of Paradise said...

AL GORE,DAVID SUZUKI, and the others hypotcrits all the way to the bank and annoying as well im sure a fly is more welcome then these green-freaks

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