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Posts Tagged ‘eco-sins’

Day 30 of Daily Footprint Project. A good time to conclude the project. And to reflect on the lessons learned during these thirty days spent under the close scrutiny of the green lens:

How to evaluate one’s personal environmental impact, is still up for discussion:

Starting with today. I drove a lot today. Some of the trips I could have done on ‘Pervenche‘, no question. That would have meant one extra hour spent on the bike. One less hour to work on two green projects I am involved with. What’s more important, to try to contribute to the global warming solution on a global scale, through my professional endeavors, or on a personal level through my daily actions? This is a question that keeps coming up, and I have heard two school of thoughts on the matter. One says, you’ve got to be pure and try to align your personal actions with your talk, as best as you can. According to these folks, I should have biked, and then maybe spent an extra hour working. The other school says, you’ve got to look at the net effect of your actions. If, through your work, you are going to mitigate more than your personal part of carbon emissions, then you have the license to sin a bit, as long as it is in the service of the green cause. When it was found that Al Gore was not as green as he could be, the two sides went at it. I say, they are probably both right. My own line of conduct is be as conscious as you possibly can of your actions, and if you are going to sin, do it full knowingly, and try to make up some other way. And I don’t mean carbon offsets here . . . Although, here again, if I am going to fly, I will purchase carbon offsets.

Green consciousness eventually leads to more responsible behavior:

Second, I have noticed my green conscience has become a lot more acute as a result of this daily process of systematic observation. I would like to pause and talk about the difference between observing, and judging. It is important to not censor and let the inner critic have a field day with one’s observations. That would be missing the point. No, the most important thing is to become more conscious. Without willing it, the conscience becomes strengthened, and it is only a matter of time, before one starts acting more responsibility. This morning at the pool, was a perfect example. As I was about to step into the hot tub, I noticed the jets had not been turned on. There are two buttons, one for the jets on the right side, the other for the jets on the left side. I thought why turn both on? I am the only one, and I will only be using one jet. Then comes this old lady, who gets annoyed. Why aren’t both sides turned on? It did not even occur to her why both jets would not be on. This is what I mean by being unconscious.

Green Wannabes need external help to go green all the way:

A well developed green conscience can only go so far however. There has been plenty of instances, many documented in this blog, when I didn’t have any excuses for not behaving green, and I still went ahead and behaved badly, out of sheer laziness, or because I had other things on my mind, or I fell back into old habits. I am just a Green Girl Wannabe, not UberGreenie. And I need help. Many of my comments on the Huffington Post deal with that reality, and the fact that I, and I would venture to say, most Americans, no matter how well intentioned, need some external help to go green all the way. In my public letter to the future President of the United States, I listed fifteen things I would need from our next leader. These mostly have to do with incentive, policies, taxes, laws and regulations, standards, public infrastructures, and technologies. You’ve got to make it easy for folks to green their lives. Cheap, convenient, efficient, appealing, fun, and impossible to not follow.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #30

Water
personal:
flush toilet 3
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 5
shower at pool 2
mom:
wash salad
communal:
rinse dishes

Electricity/gas
personal:
electric toothbrush 4’
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on all day
microwave oatmeal 4’
microwave soup  3’
mom:
boil pasta
communal:
lights

Food
personal:
tea
organic milk
organic apples 2
organic chocolate
oatmeal
takeout chicken soup from Whole Foods
whole wheat bread 
mom:
cheese pasta
salad
communal:

Waste
personal:
toilet paper
soup carton
mom:
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers

Recycling
personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers
junk mail

Transportation
personal:
mom:
communal:
drive friend to airport 45 miles
drive to pool 6 miles
drive to night meeting 2 miles
drive to grocery store 5 miles

Non food shopping
personal:
mom:
communal:

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Green Guru asks me to take a look at our fridge. “Look! This is what I am talking about.” And starts pointing at all the containers, full of uneaten leftovers, mostly from dishes I made for Catherine, or bought for her. Meatball pasta from Il Fornaio takeout, butter noodles, roast chicken from Whole Foods deli, a Styrofoam box with a half eaten beef burrito. The roast chicken, I will probably use in our salad tonight. But the rest? Catherine does not like to eat leftovers, and we are not big on beef and starches. The stuff is going to sit in the fridge for a few more days. It is good food and should not go to waste. I can only keep the illusion for so long, however. Eventually, I will have to throw the stuff away. Green Guru made his point.

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Too much thinking about my green blog. Green Guru stopped me, just as I was stepping out the door, my hand still on the handle. The same handle that holds our empty green bags. We joked that I was having a green senior moment. The trip to Whole Foods was very jolly. I was still laughing when I got out of the car. If not for Green Guru, I was heading to the store . . . without the bags.

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Green Guru will make three airplane trips this month. One this weekend for the Indian wedding on the East Coast, one to Hawaii for business, and one at the end of the month for the Homecoming at his alma matter, the University of Madison. Since he gives me such a hard time usually, I did not want to miss that opportunity to return him the favor. Isn’t aircraft traveling one of the worst offenders for carbon emissions? What was he going to do about his trips? We have had the same discussion before. And again, Green Guru brought up his greenness, the solar installation on top of our roof, all his daily green deeds, the solar project in Hawaii. Plus, he was planning on buying carbon offsets. That’s when it struck me. Buying a green conscience is a privilege of the rich.

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Prad left for his cousin’s Indian wedding reception in DC. I miss him already. The good part is I have the house all to myself, and I get to clean up our fridge. Green Guru is on this ‘no waste’ kick. Our fridge is full of moldy stuff, that he refuses to throw away. Just now, I threw, hard as a rock half eaten steak, grilled corn from last weekend, super wilted salad leftovers, and Styrofoam cup with week old Indian carryout. I can’t describe the satisfaction.

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The Green Bracelet from Simmons Jewelry is tempting me. It is hard to resist green malachite, rough diamond, and a little bit of gold, all thrown into a great looking bracelet, for a Green cause, and for only $125. Could it be that I can satisfy my shopping urges and do good, both at the same time? Green is becoming the new land of opportunities for marketers of all sorts. And a new outlet for the Green Wannabes like me, who still want to shop, but without the guilt. Which raises the question of, is it possible to be green and a consumer? Green citizen, yes. But green consumer? Sounds like the oxymoron of the twenty first century.

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Some things, I will not change. Like eating fresh baguette everyday. Green Guru and I just had another one of our ‘episodes’. It irks him that I keep on buying new bread every other day, even when we still have half of the old one left. Rather than wasting, he insists on eating the old bread. Green Guru has not eaten fresh bread in a long time . . .

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Seed Magazine is one of my favorite science magazines. Last night I finally got to the July/August issue, and came across a great article by Jonah Lehrer, on ‘The Living City’. Lots of interesting thoughts about cities as living organisms. The one that stuck with me, was the idea about cities as ‘bastions of environmentalism’ :

‘People who live in densely populated places lead environmentally friendly lives. They consume fewer resources per person and take up less space. (On average, city dwellers use about half as much electricity as people living outside the city limits.) And because efficiency scales with the size of the population, big cities are always more efficient than small cities. An environmentally friendly place is simply one with lots and lots of people. While rural towns might look green -all those lawns and trees are reassuring-their per-captita rates of consumption and pollution are significantly higher. The secret to creating a more environmentally sustainable society is making our big cities bigger. We need more metropolises.’

And here I thought I was doing so well, living in Palo Alto, in my suburban house, with a garden, and lots of trees along the street . . .

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Lots of deadlines. I have been too busy to shop. Yesterday, the urge seized me to visit Anthropologie. Fortunately, I only had five minutes to spare, literally. Not enough time to make it to the sales rack, all the way in the back of the store. I should be busy more often.

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American Positivism, French Authenticity

One of the hallmarks of the American culture is its unflinching belief in the value of positivism at all costs. Everything is fabulous, mothers congratulate their kids for blowing their nose, and God forbid, any hint of negativism is frowned upon. Coming from France, a country where we are taught to practice the art of the litote, from a very young age, this has always felt like fake and forced communication to me. The French are more into subtleties, and minimizing their appreciation. If they think something is really good, they will say, ‘Not bad’. French are also more free about voicing their opinions, whether good or bad.

Is positivism good for green?

I am noticing a lot of positivism in the green American media. Another blogger told me once that I would do well to be less negative. Couldn’t I talk about all the good things I am doing, rather than focusing on what is not going so well? Of course, I could. My question is, how relevant is it to the current problem that is facing us all? This admission of ‘sins’ is the first step in all life changing programs. Major religions have it in one form or another. Twelve steps program have made it their foundation. And good old logic says, identify the problem first, the solution will come next.

Authenticity and Green

Denial and lies will not get us anywhere. In psychotherapy, one way to facilitate authenticity, is to give the patient the permission to be completely him or herself. To that end, the therapist will sometimes engage in self-disclosure, revealing uncomfortable part of him or herself, and indirectly modeling a more authentic behavior for the patient. Being positive is good. Being authentic is even better.

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