Posts Tagged ‘green conscience’

My good friend Christine has been looking for a present, for me. She was just at Anthropologie, my favorite store, but could not find anything. That’s fine, I tell her, I do not need, do not want anything. The urge has died. My wavering green conscience from a few months ago has grown strong now, and with it, the moral resolve to no longer participate in the further demise of our planet, whenever I can. I find this evolution of mine absolutely fascinating, and worth examining.

It was not that long ago, that I was a shopaholic. Revisiting my blog entries from last year, I wonder who is that person?:

April 23

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.


The paper is filled with July 4th coupons. Will I go to Macy’s to take advantage of their incredible sales? The sight of my closet, overflowing with clothes should be enough of an answer. I really do not need anything. That’s besides the point, however. I, and most of the other women I know, do not shop because we need clothes. Shopping is just something to do when one is bored, or feeling a little down. It is called retail therapy.

August 3

I am a Target addict. It only took reading one small blurb in Jane magazine, about the upcoming release of Dominique Cohen for Target jewelry collection, to send me scouring through the Target website. I could feel the rush of anticipation, and while I was at it, I did a run through of the entire site, looking for other designer items at Target prices. Handbags, shoes, clothes, other jewelry, I did not miss a thing. How ironic, after I wrote this glorious post yesterday about wanting to become a buddhist! I started feeling guilty. Quickly, my mind fabricated an elaborate rationale for why I should be so obsessed with shopping. It said, you are a woman, you have been biologically programmed to want to adorn yourself, so you can better seduce your mate.

Now, what used to give me transient pleasure has become repulsive. The mere thought of going to Anthropologie and perusing the racks fills me with sadness. About our planet. About all the other women I see shopping still, seemingly oblivious to the consequences of their actions. Maybe they have not seen The Story of Stuff? Maybe their conscience is as mine was, whispering guilt laden words, but not loud enough yet to stop them?

I have to wonder, what is it that spurred this transformation to pure green eco-worrier? Wouldn’t it be nice to discover the secret elixir for green-ness? Noticing, and writing about my daily green sins certainly helped me become more conscious, a lot more conscious. No change in my behavior, that I could notice a first, however. No, it just took time. Time to pay attention, time to take in insights from fellow bloggers, time to watch heavy duty videos like The Story of Stuff. Time to stare at scary facts. Time for it all to sink in, down into my core. It was not one single thing that did it, but rather the combination of all that I let in. And the repetition over and over of the same message, that there is no way out of this predicament, and that it will take no less than all of us making changes in order for the planet to heal.

Read Full Post »

Images from ‘The Digital Dumpare hard to forget. I had the privilege of watching the 23′ video documentary during a pre-screening for the United Nations Association Film Festival. And was shocked by what I saw. Mountains of old TVs, obsolete computers, unusable stereos, burning up in the midst of Lagos residential neighborhoods, and children watching, as the dark, toxic smoke filled their air. Shot in Lagos, Nigeria, for the Basel Action Network, ‘The Digital Dump‘ serves as an arresting visual metaphor for the environmental crimes of gigantic proportions, that are routinely committed in developing countries such as Africa. Main perpetrators: North America and Europe. From the movie introduction, on the BAN website:

In Lagos, while there is a legitimate robust market and ability to repair and refurbish old electronic equipment including computers, monitors, TVs and cell phones, the local experts complain that of the estimated 500 40-foot containers shipped to Lagos each month, as much as 75% of the imports are “junk” and are not economically repairable or marketable. Consequently, this e-waste, which is legally a hazardous waste is being discarded and routinely burned in what the environmentalists call yet “another “cyber-age nightmare now landing on the shores of developing countries.”

The video was especially relevant to our audience, a gathering of Silicon Valley folks. There is a time, when the BAN investigator, directs the camera to random close ups of the brand names and still identifiable sources for some of the discarded computers. To recognize many of the big names of Silicon Valley, brought gasps in the audience. There is an ugly underside to Silicon Valley success, and it was just exposed, last night, in my friend Christine’s Palo Alto garage. What really happen to the old computers we thought were safely discarded? How can we tell for sure? Where does the responsibility lie? What will it take for Silicon Valley manufacturers to become a part of the solution? The name of Green Citizen came up in the conversation. John Kao is doing some wonderful work, trying to address the problem with his organization.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

On our way back from the farmers’ market, Charlotte wanted to show me the new shoe store, the one where she got her pair of red sandals last week. I had been meaning to visit anyway. Charlotte and I, both delighted in how good the prices were. “Look, these are only $35!” The Mystique ballerinas on the sales rack were very tempting. I tried them on. It turns out they did not fit. I could walk out, with my green conscience intact, kind of. My earlier musings about simplicity were still fresh, and I began to wonder about the real price for the Mystique shoes. I am pretty sure they were made in China. The way I see it, there should be two price tags: the usual tag based on costs of goods and merchant markup, and another one for carbon footprint. Maybe, it could be like the Energy Star system for appliances, but instead of stars, it would show footprints. Without a footprint tag, it is too easy to forget the real price of the Mystique ballerinas.

Read Full Post »

Driving in my Prius this morning to a dentist appointment, I felt like such a fraud. Saying one thing to the world on the outside, but being really someone else on the inside. The Prius was not even my idea. Prad was the one to insist that we go green with our car fleet – three total, not including the kids’ cars – What struck me most, was that I could have walked instead. All it would have taken, was for me to get up one half hour earlier. The power of habit is so strong, and the laziness too. There was an interesting article in the New York Times yesterday, about “Toyota Hybrid Makes a Statement, and That Sells”. In short, it says that more than half (yes, 57%) of the Prius buyers purchased their car because “it makes a statement about me”. Higher fuel economy and lower emissions came only as distant third and fifth (36% and 25%).

Read Full Post »

Filled with motherly love, I woke up this morning determined to dazzle Catherine with a breakfast extavaganza. Nothing spared. My green conscience, Prad that is, had not woken up yet, but I could hear his voice. Why are you making so much? She never has time to eat her breakfast. Why are you wasting? Still, I had to do it. One English muffin, both halves, toasted. A full cup of hot chocolate milk. An orange from our garden, cut up nicely. Goat cheese from France, it’s made near my grandmother’s village, so I can’t resist. Smoked salmon. Mixed berry jam, and butter. I was pleased with my efforts. It all looked nice on the table. Waiting for my daughter to show up and enjoy. Of course, she showed up at the last minute, pushing the two muffin halves and half of the orange onto a plate, for her to eat in the car. Upon my return, I felt guilty about the cup of chocolate milk, untouched, daring me at the center of the table. The thought brushed me, of drinking it, but then, I had used whole milk, and my strict diet won’t allow. The kitchen sink became the scene of yet another crime, the dumping of a whole cup of chocolate milk. Not good. I started thinking of the cows, eating the corn, and the corn crops depleting the earth, and of the slave labor used to harvest the sugar and the cocoa. Still, I found comfort in the organic orange from our garden. How much more green can you get?

Read Full Post »