Coping with green guilt

One of my most faithful readers, who I know only as Hellcat (I always picture some sort of crazed feline demon when I see that screen name, but then her comments are always so sweet and funny!), wrote me the other day with this interesting question:

“Have you ever had to cheat on your changes? Or, perhaps a better phrasing would be, do you find yourself having to make any concessions for different situations?”

She then mentioned that when she had a cold recently, she went through a pile of disposable tissues with blatant disregard for the trees that may have been cut down to make them because, frankly, she felt like crapola.

So to answer the question, yes, I’ve had to cheat — but it’s very seldom. As I think I mentioned before, I broke my no-bottled-water pledge while travelling because the water in my Sigg bottle would often run out, or I’d forget it at the hotel one day and be stranded for the entire afternoon and evening with no other option for staying hydrated.

Also, if I have a cold and I’m going to be using a piece of recycled toilet paper or recycled paper towel for some reason anyway, I’ll occasionally blow my nose in it first.

But the other weekend, I had my first entire DAY of green sinning. It came out of nowhere: I was at the opposite end of the city (far, far away from my apartment), and my friend and I decided to have some lunch by Riverdale Farm, a cute little bit of the pastoral within an otherwise urban landscape. But we hadn’t planned a picnic or anything, so I was without my water bottle and didn’t have any Tupperware containers for takeout. My friend was bent on getting Thai food, so we went to this restaurant and ordered some vegetarian fare, then sat down and waited.

Well, it of course came packaged in way more styrofoam than necessary (it was like one gigantic container per spring roll), plastic knives and forks, plastic bag, etc. I tried to give some of it back, but it wasn’t even worth it. I just sighed, bought a stupid bottle of corporate spring water and accepted that I’d broken my green streak. Later, when we went up the CN Tower, we had a snack at the café and I ordered a butter tart à la mode, forgetting that the ice cream wouldn’t be organic. And later that night, I went and checked my email and Facebook account, totally neglecting my resolution to stop messing about on the computer after dinner.

So to answer your question, Hellcat: Hell yes, I totally slip up every now and then. But for the most part, I’ve been pretty good. And often, I’ll try to find a way to atone, like by keeping the lights off in the bathroom when I brush my teeth and wash my face at night.

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10 Responses to Coping with green guilt

  1. Jennifer says:

    WHOAH!! hehe, it actually makes me feel better to know that you cheated a little. You’re way more green than I am and I often wonder how you do it. (Like the whole Diva Cup thing…yeah, I really just don’t think I can go there). But on the brighter side, your posts inspire a ton of people, including me, to live as earth friendly as possible, which in turn probably makes up for all your slip ups. :)

  2. Greenpa says:

    OMG!!! you mean you’re not PURE??? I’m so disillusioned.
    :-) that’s, like, supposed to be humorous.

    One of the things the folks in denial fear most is that greenies will someday force them to conform- to our pure and holy life choices. So I think anything we can do to convince them we’re human- fallible- and not holier than them- is to periodically laugh at our own failures to live up to our own fantasies.

    I think it would be fun to have a “Brown Confessions” Day- but I’m also afraid that putting it in that kind of pseudo religious form would just scare them more.

    Hm. “Bless me, Colin, for I have Browned.” lol

  3. Greenpa says:

    see? we’re all fallible. As you may have noticed I got distracted in the middle of the sentence starting So I think- and finished it up with the end of a different sentence from inside my head somewhere, and messed up in proofing. alas. :-/

  4. Maureen says:

    Oh my god! You don’t actually follow all your rules all the time! I’m so grateful! I’ve been reading your blog for about 6 months now and I have to say it has made a big impact on me. However I’ve never felt compelled to respond until today (to both entries). I’ve been trying to follow some of the ideas you’ve presented but honestly I’m weak and more often than not find myself succumbing to using a piece of recycled paper towel to wipe up a water spill on the floor or drying my jeans in the dryer (can’t do the crunchy jeans!) Oh…and I love to bake and can’t give up my oven! So having you admit that you sometimes have to break your own ‘rules’ makes me so happy…sorry.
    I’m choosing to look at it like something akin to baby steps. No oven use for a week or two means it’s ok to bake brownies for 20 min. one night. Also remembering to recycle the toilet paper tubes instead of throwing them in the garbage means it’s ok to use a piece of recycled paper towel…just maybe not for water spills on the floor. Am I being too easy on myself? Is this like the carbon neutral idea?

  5. Hellcat13 says:

    Oooh – I feel kind of “shout-out” special today! And while I do have a couple of crazed “Hellkitties” at home, my screen name is actually the name of my hockey team and my jersey number. I’m a Canadian hockey chick through and through…who carpools to the games :) (We DO earn the name, though.)

    It is nice to know that nobody is perfect. I think the main point to take away from your venture is that every little bit helps. Everytime I bring my Sigg shopping with me, not only does it save me the cost of buying a bottle of water, but it saves a bottle being used unnecessarily. It’s about being aware of the need to reduce our impact on the planet because there are so many other options out there. And it’s about teaching others. Because even if global warming is a “great big conspiracy*”, the piles of garbage at the Carp dump aren’t. The full recycling bins that my boyfriend now brings home from work give me the warm and fuzzies.

    One more thing – I got my package from ReusableBags.com last night…Yay! I got another Sigg bottle to replace one that was stolen (well, at least the thief is eco-conscious?), I got the WrapMats, and I got a couple of the reusable bags that fold into teeny little bundles. Love it all…thanks for the recommendation to the site! Now, on to the Diva-Cup hunt.

    *I don’t actually believe this, BTW.

  6. just ducky says:

    You evil, evil woman! How dare you?!?!?

    …just teasing…people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and I live in the most fragile of glass houses…you are doing just fine and far more than I am, but thanks for letting us see your blunders as well as your triumphs!

  7. marcie says:

    Those are the days you are just PRAYING you don’t run into someone who reads your blog or recognizes you… ”
    Hey aren’t you that Green as a Thistle Person?
    No…wait you can’t be…she wouldn’t eat out of that evil take-out!!!!”

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