I’ve always considered myself a pretty normal American. I’m a young professional with a neutral accent. I wear sneakers at inappropriate times, and I’ve eaten my share of weird jello creations. Sure, I’m more attractive and intelligent than the average American (aren’t we all?), but I have American ancestry that goes back to the Mayflower. As a result, my ancestors had generations of time to normalize to US culture and bake it into my personal make-up.
As a normal American, I scan CNN.com every morning, but I spend much more time angsting about the next episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Which is why it isn’t surprising that until recently, I had never really given much thought to the nature of energy. I’d turn on lights, drive my SUV, use my computer and buy single packaged foods at the grocery store thinking only of two things: 1) convenience, and 2) time.
I certainly had never given much thought to global warming. I knew it was a concept that had been around since the 70’s, and seeing as that was before I was born, I couldn’t imagine it was something to be too worried about.
But suddenly, I’ve woken up.
I think I finally get it. How the lives we lead are permeated by energy usage. Why it’s wise to live sustainably. I’m no longer immune to the dangers we face; not just of how we might alter our weather patterns and coastlines irrevocably, but how we might also face impending resource wars and energy crises. It’s taken me a while, but I understand now. I’m mentally ready to accept responsibility and thus change; to turn over a new leaf.
It’s time for an eco-makeover. I’m excited! This is a huge step for me!
Question is: what do I do?
The problem isn’t a lack of information. Once I began to look into it, the problem became that there is far too much information. Everything from pre-packaged fish sticks to cork wedge heels is screaming “I am eco-friendly!” and “Made from renewable materials!”. Every morning CNN reminds me about how evil my SUV is, and every evening, I see ads for BP with a pretty green flower logo claiming that they are moving “Beyond Petroleum”. It seems like just about everything these days is green, or some shade thereof.
Like most of America, I’ve been raised in an environment that takes for granted the centralized systems and conveniences we enjoy on a regular basis. As a result, I don’t fully understand what impact my patterns have, or how I can improve them. At first glance, it seems clear that our society on the whole needs to evolve, but forced government intervention seems unlikely at the present moment, so I’m on my own.
I need to figure out what changes are going to make the biggest difference to our world, and more specifically, which of those changes are right for me? I’m not sure it’s prudent for me (or civilization at large) to go to the extreme of a No Impact Man, as much as I respect what he’s trying to accomplish.
It’s an unwarranted leap of faith, but my gut firmly tells me that there are a series of reasonable changes out there. Changes that any person in Western culture would be willing to accept if they understood them better, and that could make an enormous difference in our futures. The suggestions out there appear paradoxical, so I need to be methodical to figure out what will work.
• Does it make sense to carry around my “I am not a plastic bag” grocery tote and then stuff it full with produce shipped in from Ecuador?
• How is it I’m supposed to install solar panels while living in a high-rise condominium complex? In Seattle?
• Does my SUV really qualify as green if I pump it full of ethanol?
This blog’s purpose is to document my journey into the belly of the beast. I will figure out what changes are necessary and appropriate, and what it takes to alter my life to adopt them. I hope to weave my way through the informational gauntlet of this green movement and condense my applied learnings to this medium. You are welcome to join me.
Curious what the trigger was for adopting this undertaking? Read more about my reasons here.