Thursday, September 30, 2010

Green and other guilts

This NY Times article on green guilt is ridiculous.  This is what I hate about the environmentalist movement--if you're not doing everything absolutely perfectly, you should beat yourself up about all of your shortcomings.  You live in an unfinished geodesic dome, building tiny houses, but you feel guilty because you use plywood to keep costs down?  You want to put in a composting toilet to save water, but you have a swimming pool in  the back yard of your second home?  Shouldn't you also be feeling guilty about maintaining two residences?

There is one guy in the article who strikes me as sane.  He said, "If you wake up in the morning and your biggest concern is trash cans or what kind of window sprays you're using, you are having it good. There are people who wake up and their biggest concern is getting fed."  There are a lot bigger issues in this world than what type of light bulb I use.  (I like GE's  Reveal, incidentally, for the beautiful quality of light and lack of continual blinking and mercury.)

Frankly, I'm not a big fan of guilt in general.  I think most guilt is externally produced; there are all these things we are told we should do--use cloth diapers, be skinny, buy CFL light bulbs, never use TV as a babysitter, eat organic, etc.--and so we feel bad, even if our circumstances (or values) necessitate something else.  I suppose it might occasionally motivate people, but mostly we just sit around feeling bad.  Whether it's using disposable diapers, not sending thank you cards, eating that extra handful of M&Ms, guilt is not a productive emotion if you don't change your behavior.  If you're going to keep doing whatever it is that makes you feel guilty, you might as well accept your decision, stop feeling guilty, and go do something productive.  So if you ever feel guilty about something "they" say you should or shouldn't be doing, remember that I give you permission to not feel guilty.


  1. One of my biggest mantras is moderation in all things. Balance it out. Yes, we should be green but let's not get retarded about it to the exclusion of all else. Patience and pace yourself.

  2. Ug, the guilt. The guilt!! Every time I put something in the trash as opposed tot he recycling bin, I feel like I'm getting punched in the gut by a tree. Stupid trees.

  3. Ha! They don't have recycling pickup for condos, apparently, even though the houses right by us have bins. So everything goes in the garbage! I sometimes feel kind of bad about the soda cans, but not enough to save them and take them to the recycling center. I had bought sorting bins, thinking I'd take my own stuff to recycle...but we use them for laundry baskets now.


Be nice.