Environment is not a dirty word (and being green doesn’t mean being perfect)

There’s a story I’ve shared quite a few times over the past six years since I became an accidental activist for holistic health and conscious living.

The story goes like this: I used to roll my eyes at environmentalists.

I used to snore that obnoxious snore that one inhales at the back of one’s throat when one thinks that someone else is holier than thou … naive … peace loving … do-gooding…world saving.

I was like, “Give it up, poser.”

And then one day I became the person other people roll their eyes at.

Oops.

It happened sometime in 2010.

After denying for years I was an earth loving, peace seeking hippie, I realized that all the efforts I had made to be healthy; to protect my kids from toxins in their food and surroundings; to connect people to wellness practitioners that allowed them to avoid a life spent on medication Β — all those things — also helped the Earth.

And what did I understand soon after that?

If there was no Earth for my children to live on, it wouldn’t matter how organic, how natural, how toxin-free they were.

They’d be homeless.

And just like that I was an environmentalist.

Not the kind of environmentalist that saves otters or spends two years in a treehouse in the Amazon.

Just a simple environmentalist:

One that stops and thinks before she buys something; before she throws something away.

One that reads food labels.

One that brings an extra plastic bag on a picnic for trash — and then feels a little guilty she has a plastic bag in her possession to begin with.

jen pick up trash

One that teaches her kids that killing ants is cruel and eating animals is something I wrestle with.

I find that many people think that being green means being totally and completely careful and sure about every single thing you do, eat, buy. As if going green means going whole hog, vegan, hemp-wearing, off-the-grid hippie.

It doesn’t.

Truth telling time:

My kids own plastic toys.

Sometimes I throw them in the trash.

My community doesn’t recycle glass.

Sometimes I pack the glass bottles up in bags with the intention of taking them over to the next community for recycling.

Weeks go by. I throw the glass bottles in the trash instead.

I eat non-organic food.

Sometimes that non-organic food is called McDonald’s.

I like long, hot showers.

And sometimes I take them — in spite of the fact I live in a country where water is a luxury.

I don’t like dogs.

Sometimes I fantasize about kicking dogs. (I don’t kick them, but not because I like them).

I am human. But at the same time, I am a thinker.

I am someone who thinks green… by default, at first. And now, on purpose.

I think; therefore, I am.

I am someone who acts green.

Not because it’s politically correct or trendy.

And not because I think that my one or two or ten choices will mean that there will be a planet for my children to live on in 20 years.

In fact, some days I find myself banking on Mars.

Some days I think we’re all just f-ing doomed.

I am an environmentalist because once I started thinking, I realized it was impossible for me to be anything but…

an environmentalist.

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7 thoughts on “Environment is not a dirty word (and being green doesn’t mean being perfect)

  1. Hi! Great post. “Simple environmentalist” is exactly what I am, too (I guess most of us greenies are just that). And you’re right, being green doesn’t mean being perfect. I don’t even know how I could think I’m perfect since I know there are a lot of things I’m doing that’s hurting the planet, no matter how much I’m trying to live green.

    I so understand your thought about taking an extra plastic bag to a picnic for trash and then feeling guilty about having that plastic bag. There’s really no escaping the guilt and shame when you’ve chosen the green lifestyle. But we push on anyway, right?

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  2. I love this post! And I think the best kind of environmentalists are the ones who can bravely say “I’m not perfect, but I do what I can – and you can too!” It’s the ones that make others feel like they’re not doing enough (and never will) that make me snore that obnoxious snore. Everyone can play a part…even if it’s only a supporting role! πŸ˜‰

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    • Thanks misscorinne. It took me a little while to move from a judgy, uncompassionate wellness pusher to an open-minded, on-the-path environmentalist, but i certainly like myself better now! πŸ™‚

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  3. I’m very much like you. I think the only thing that keeps me going is the thought that my perennial rants may cause some to think a bit harder. Once a ball begins to roll it gathers momentum; the biggest problem we have is that we’re competing against a much larger ball that’s been rolling for far too long…

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