when we heal the earth, we heal ourselves. david orr

Alicia on The Mike Nowak Show

Chicago horticulture expert Mike Nowak invited me on his radio show to discuss Earth Hour. LISTEN HERE. I'm about 3/4 of the way into the recording.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Guilt Trips: The Hidden Cost of Having a Green Blog

My friend -- whom I'll refer to as Moochi -- and I went shopping at Target recently to pick up a few household items. While I painstakingly reviewed every word on the SEVENTH GENERATION soap box and lamented that Target didn't carry a green alternative to Drain-o, Moochi mentioned she wanted to pick up some cleaning wipes for her car and said we needed to go to the motor vehicle aisle.

I offered a green alternative: "Why don't you just use a rag and some water? That's what I would do."

She wasn't buying it. "I'm too lazy," she said.

"What do you mean?" I didn't see how it was any more effort than using a chemical-filled cleaning wipe marketed exclusively for cars. "All you need is a microfiber rag to pick up the dust. Then you can reuse it."

Silence. No eye contact.

"Erik and I have a microfiber rag you can try if you want to."

"Yea. I just need something for cars." I relented. At this point I figured out that I was pushing my green agenda too far and making her, possibly, feel guilty for not taking my suggestion.

We went to the car aisle and got what Moochi wanted.

It's happened before.

A few days earlier another friend -- whom will be known to you as W. T. Featherstone -- and I were headed downtown. She finished her carbonated beverage on the way and needed to discard the plastic bottle. Featherstone made a point of telling me she was going to hang on to it in search of a recycling bin until we got to our event.

Three train stops, one bus, and 3 blocks later she threw it out in front of our destination, saying something like, "Don't be mad at me. I tried." I laughed and blamed the city for not having more conspicuous recycling bins downtown.

Of course, I wasn't mad at Featherstone. Or Moochi for that matter. But having a green blog and publicly converting your traditional lifestyle in favor of sustainability somehow puts you in an awkward position of making others feel guilty when they aren't able or interested in doing the same.

But as I've SAID BEFORE: being green is a process, not a destination. And each of us must forge her own path.


Anonymous said...

Great post! Featherstone has a point in that in order to gain consumer engagement, the resources and tools (such as recycling bins) need to be available and accessible.

Even though you're farther along the green path than most, I'm glad to see that you have sympathy for those who are not quite there yet.

Keep up the good work!

EcoChicago said...

Thanks for reading, Heidi. Featherstone is wise, indeed.

MelanieO said...

Totally agree. I'm also a vegetarian (have been for over 15 years, so I'm way past preaching), but meat-eaters find it necessary to constantly apologize or feel guilty when eating meat around me. Hmmmm, I say!

EcoChicago said...

MelanieO, I'm in the process of converting to a strictly grass-fed, free-range meat diet. Breaking my old habit is hard, but totally worth it. Being a vegetarian, as I'm sure you know, is one of the best ways you can quickly reduce your carbon footprint and support ethical animal treatment standards. Keep on keepin' on...

EcoChicago said...

As an update: Moochi told me she'll try to be less lazy and that I should help her...if she say's so!

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