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Posts Tagged ‘addiction’

For several weeks, the Old Navy bag sat on the hallway table. I had promised Charlotte, I would return her shoes. The prospect of going to a store did not particularly excite me. But it had to be done. Today, I finally went, promising myself it would be quick.

Along the way, a new state of mind overtook me, that turned this simple errand into a long shopping expedition. My summer tops were becoming ragged, and I could use some new ones after all. Came out of Old Navy with a dress and a top. All revved up, I set out to drive home. Could not help but notice the Target sign on my left. In a split second, decided to make a U-turn, and check out what used to be my favorite store. There was no stopping me. Made my way fast through an impressive assortment of cheap, ugly rags, all made in China, and still stiff from various dyes, of doubtful provenance. Until I hit the Converse section. I remembered seeing an ad on TV a few months ago:

Prad called. Wanted to know where I was. I had promised a beet salad with feta cheese for lunch. That would have to wait I told him. Too busy trying out stuff from the Converse company. You can’t be disturbing a woman in the midst of a shopping spree. Three pairs of shoes, and a dress, and a pair of jeans. I had done well. I was on my way to becoming a Star, all for only $163.75. 

I thought I had left my Target addiction behind. Today’s experience proved otherwise. Once an addict, always an addict. The hardest part is giving up an addiction, that keeps being encouraged by our consumerist culture

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Yesterday, I learned about Mr. Bush‘s new plan for commercial oil shale production. At first, I got mad, and went into another rant about our idiotic president. Then thought about the Pope’s discourse to the young Australian people:

Reluctantly we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth, erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption.

The Holy Father’s got it right, this time. We are insatiable.  And will have no rest until we have left no corner of the Earth unturned. 

Are we to let our addiction run its fatal course, or should we intervene

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Day 9 of Daily Footprint Project, and still nothing to report in the ‘Non Food Shopping’ area. Pretty amazing, given that only a few months ago, I was still writing about my frequent fashion expeditions to Target and Anthropologie.

From Compulsive Shopper to Passionate Environmentalist

You see, I no longer have the time, nor the desire to shop. My green conscience did not even need to kick in. The urge left me, just like that. Replaced instead by a much bigger passion. The La Marguerite blog has filled up my life, leaving no room for extraneous activities.

I would like to talk about the personal vacuum. There is this space inside, that we all have, and that we need to fill up until it becomes full. Ful-fill-ment. I never realized the true meaning of the word, until now. If we are fortunate enough to find a passion, like I am with this new vocation as an environmentalist, the passion will transform our life, into a meaningful adventure, and we will experience that fullness, that is so essential to our well being.

What happens when the vacuum stays empty for too long? It feels just like that, empty. And it drives us to look outside for fillers. This has been an ongoing thread in my blog, starting with ‘The King of Buthan’, and more recently, in ‘The World Needs Some of That Gypsy Spirit‘. Al Gore, during his interview for the Nobel Peace Prize, qualified the climate crisis, as ‘a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity’. I would like to add, that part of the solution to that challenge, is also of a spiritual nature. By spiritual, I mean the universal human need to transcend one’s condition with extra-ordinary meaning. A love so great that it literally takes our breath away.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #9

Water

personal:
flush toilet 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 4
two showers at the gym
mom:
communal:
rinse dishes
wash veggies
water for soup

Electricity/gas

personal:
electric toothbrush 2
microwave tea 4’
microwave oatmeal 4’
laptop on all day
mom:
cook cream of wheat
communal:
lights

Food

personal:
oatmeal with organic milk
organic persimmon
tea
organic milk
mom:
cream of wheat with organic milk
mango tango juice from Odwalla
communal:
organic soup with leftover chicken and veggies
organic salad
wild fish

Waste

personal:
toilet paper
sheets of paper
mom:
communal:
vegetable peelings
3 newspaper plastic wrappers

Recycling

personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers
milk bottle
junk mail

Transportation

personal:
drive to appointment, stopped by grocery on way back 5 miles
drive to gym 6 miles
mom:
communal:

Non food shopping

personal:
mom:
communal:

 

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I am an addict. And I need help. In the absence of a clear program, I am left on my own, to find an approach that will work for me. It’s been confusing, so far, and I can’t tell what’s helpful, from what’s not.

The Not so Green Zone
First, there is the danger of the not so green zone. You know, that fuzzy place where it’s pretty much up to you to decide what your green regimen should be. It’s very flexible, and understanding of your situation as a recovering consumer. Let’s set our expectations low, since we know the moon is out of reach. The problem is just that. Low expectations produce dismal results, coupled with the dangerous illusion that one is doing something. The not so green zone is where I dwelled until a few weeks ago, when I decided, enough was enough, and I wanted results.

The Absolute Green Zone
Second, and just as dangerous, is the absolute green zone. No room for error here. You are green, or not. There is a list of things you know you have to do, all of them, and there is no skipping any. The advantage is you know what is expected of you. Things are clear. Relapses are frowned upon, and you better get back on the train quick. Very much like going on a diet. You know what happens to chronic dieters, though. They follow the diet for a while, and then one day, they just get fed up, and say, the hell with it, I am going to eat as a please. I am a living testimony of why (green) lists alone rarely work. Lists are tools that need a context.

The Green Steps Community Zone
Outside of these two danger zones, lies a third space, one I am just starting to formulate for myself, and who knows, maybe others if they want. I call it the Green Steps Community zone. It borrows from the 12 Steps model and the community principle of social networks. 12 Steps was built on the notion that the support from other fellows struggling with similar addictions, coupled with accountability to the group and a sponsor, are essential to the success of the recovery process. People cannot accomplish recovery on their own. Couple 12 Steps with social networks, and you’ve got the beginning of a solution. Social networks are not the privilege of Web 2.0. There are many other different types of social networks, starting with families, neighborhoods, churches, schools, workplaces, all of which need to be considered for this idea of Green Steps Communities.

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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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Charlotte asked me to spend the day with her in San Francisco. She wants to see the Vivienne Westwood exhibit at the De Young, and then go shopping to H&M, with lunch in between. How could I possibly refuse? a day with my dear daughter all to myself. Plus, H&M is one of my favorite stores anyway. Once in the store, I am seized with a frenetic urge I know all too well. Gone my resolutions to no longer consume, my determination to boycot slave labor. Nothing is left, except guilt, that keeps nagging at me whenever I grab yet another dress, another cute top, another deal too good to pass up. The whole experience is a mixed bag of excitement, and disappointment. I am disappointed with myself for not being stronger, for giving in, once again. The spectacle of my other fellow shoppers, all shopping like mad, just like me, transport me for a minute in a place I would rather ignore. The earth has become dark, and a huge landfill with mountains of discarded clothes, that leave no more room for us to be and breathe. Charlotte calls me, she has found a white dress she wants me to look at. I push the fleeting image of doom into the recesses of my thinking brain. Charlotte and I are on a mission and nothing will stop us.

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