Tuesday, January 08, 2008

the green post

To see other photographs from our Alaskan honeymoon, click here. It's worth waiting for them to load, if you haven't seen them yet.

When I was an undergraduate, I joined MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group), a student run non-profit that focuses on environmental and social justice issues. I can spout that line easily, most likely because I wore many hats in my three or so years with this organization--canvasser, state board secretary, local board representative, task force leader, etc. I worked on bringing The Vagina Monologues to Twin Cities campuses for the V-day initiative, marched with Take Back the Night, petitioned and lobbied for environmental initiatives, and helped plan Earth Week activities.

I loved being an activist, getting my sleeves rolled up and feeling as if I were doing something. I loved the debates in the university newspaper, the righteousness we felt, as a collective, the way we'd go out for tofu and tabbouleh and discuss grants, discuss political debates, discuss the quality of local beer.

I burned out though, which seems to be a trend with me--throw myself into something so passionately that I detest the idea of returning. (I slumped there for a while with teaching, last year, but I'm so glad I came here, gave it another go, tried another district, as my husband and others urged--sometimes it really does make all the difference, even if you are without one of your best friends--which, by the way, does make you sad every day.) I've stood back, focused more on supporting the arts communities--Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, the Loft, the Anderson Center. Buying local artwork. Funding local businesses.

But all of this is from-a-distance. It's easy because I'm not up front, telling you how I feel directly. I'm just the grinning supporter, cheering from the sidelines. The lazy way out; the way out that keeps my feelings from being hurt and my exhaustion (exasperation) level at a minimum. You see, if I care too much again, I will become emotionally involved. It's my nature.

Everything is about progress, about working your way up. That's why my resolution list is so long--it's not a collection of wishes, desires that would simply end when 2008 ticks over to 2009. I want my lifestyle to change. I want to be healthier, inside and out. I want to be more at peace with myself and with the world.

And part of that is changing the way we behave and live in this world.

For me, it's this fight I've been having with my house--clearing out the clutter. Tomorrow the Epilepsy Foundation is doing a pickup, and we will leave boxes out in the slush, bags lined along the curb. I love the feeling of saying good-bye to these things I'd allowed myself to relinquish. I'm a pack rat by nature, and now I am learning what to save (heartfelt letters) and what to recycle (the birthday card from ten years ago).

But I'm also learning how not to bring things into my house in the first place. See this: Story of Stuff on YouTube. And learn about Compact, or read the local newspaper article on the idea.

We stopped shopping at Wal-Mart a long time ago. This autumn, we added Target. It's amazing how ticking the big box stores off your list of places to shop will prevent you from collecting that unneeded, unwanted stuff. This action helps my resolutions in more than one way--returning to local living, helping with the financial goals, helping with the clutter and home goals, helping with the peaceful goals.

Instead, handmade gifts. Instead, baking bread. Instead, buying locally.

There are so many things I need to change. I have the canvas bags for the grocery store, but too often I forget them at home. We haven't switched over all our light bulbs (we didn't want to throw away the bulbs we already have stored--that seems against the point). We haven't found a satisfactory replacement for household cleaners yet, but I might try this. I want to bring tupperware to restaurants for my leftovers (because I never finish a meal), but like the canvas bags, I always forget. I need to call our energy company and see what we can do to switch the source--I'm not sure how to do that yet, but I hear you can. We are in the market for a new car, and I am lobbying for a Prius. I want to buy organic and free range. I want to be more of a regular at the farmer's market. I want to have a third good year with my garden.

I could go on forever, because it takes a forever amount of changes, but through all of this, I will leave you with one last link, one especially for you :) How to green up your sex life.


Anonymous said...

Re: household cleaners: baking soda, vinegar, Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap--things like that do the trick for most stuff. ; )


Anonymous said...

Just read your blog. I liked it. I gave up unnecessary items for lent last year, having been inspired by the Compact. I did it, no going out to dinner, no Caribou/Starbucks/other coffee, no new things (unless necessary--like underwear). It was really hard, and that was only 40 days. I am unsure if I will do it again, as it is a bigger commitment than I'm willing to take on right now.

- EW