From Time for Change-“Carbon Footprint-the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).”
From The Nature Conservancy-“The choices we make in our homes, our travel, the food we eat, and what we buy and throw away all influence our carbon footprint and can help ensure a stable climate for future generations.”
I opened a bag of salad greens yesterday and had three nearly simultaneous gloomy thoughts: 1. The lettuce probably isn’t nearly as clean as claimed. 2. If the germs in the lettuce don’t kill us the emissions from the plastic packaging probably will. 3. I’m a bad person for even buying lettuce in a bag…perhaps just for buying lettuce. Probably grown in Mexico by a man who beats little children.
I had a similar reaction Wednesday when I finally read the label on the new bra I had bought, and just pulled out of the washing machine: Made in El Salvador. I can’t win!
It seems lately that I am always ready to apologize for something. I’m too fat. I eat too much salt. I use herbicide. I use plastic bags. I drink bottled water. I eat salad from a bag. I buy foreign products. I drive a pickup. I run the air conditioner at night. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I’m sure there must be some reason for me to apologize for sitting here using the computer.
In the sixties I was proud of myself for not doing drugs.
In the seventies I was proud of myself for having a job and helping to support my family.
In the eighties I was proud of myself for raising intelligent, creative children.
In the nineties I was proud of myself for returning to college and getting my degree.
From 2000 until now, I’ve been proud of myself for being more financially responsible.
Now, halfway through 2010, I’m just proud to be alive. I’m proud to do the best I can to get through each day with faith and grace and dignity. If I also did everything that every friend, family member, neighbor, and nosy stranger asked me to do “to save the planet” I would not have time to breathe! First of all I would spend a LOT of my time just reading and researching, because chances are that even with all the required, approved labeling we do NOT know what is in most of the things we buy or where they are actually made, or how and by whom. Trust me; I’ve been in a few factories.
Example: Yes, I have three water bottles/cups that I refill and reuse. That does not automatically make them a better choice than commercially bottled water. I don’t know who made my water bottles or how the factory operates. They could be hiring illegal aliens, cheating on their taxes, and dumping waste into the local river for all I know. I can’t research each and every product that I buy to make sure that it has a positive impact on the world. Someone higher up the ladder has to do that.
I’m not saying that I’m not aware of the problems of the world, nor am I refusing to accept my responsibility as a global citizen to make intelligent decisions that will have a more positive impact on my environment. I try to do that each and every day. I try to be mindful of how my actions will impact others. I’m not saying that I’m doing whatever I please.
I AM saying that I can’t worry about everything. I can’t change all of my habits. I can’t adopt a totally new way of life. I have enough trouble adjusting in little baby steps.
I never said I wanted to give up paper grocery sacks and carry home these ridiculously flimsy plastic ones. No one even asked me for my opinion. Some factory just started making them and the stores started offering them and pretty soon all the paper sacks were gone and no one gave me a choice. Now a choice is back IF I want to buy and carry my own cloth bags. This means I would have to know how many I’m going to use, and I would have to carry them. I can’t possibly do that each and every time I go to the store. Besides, I do most of my shopping at WalMart and that means it isn’t all groceries, and it doesn’t all fit neatly into little cloth bags. And don’t try to make me feel guilty about it. We do reuse and recycle the plastic ones for at least four or five other purposes, but if they are a danger to landfills then you go give that speech to the manufacturers and stores who started this nonsense. It wasn’t me!