The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

The Downside of Loving the Environment June 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alden @ 9:46 pm

We all know that love = awesomeness. It brings great happiness into your life. And that includes love for the earth, yo. (Cheesy? Yes. True. YES.)

I find my life is so much more fulfilling when I have an all-encompassing mantra to guide my actions. Loving the earth leads me away from stupid purchases, because whenever I’m tempted to buy something stupid, I think “Where did this thing come from?  And where will the trash end up?”  Loving the earth brought me to biking. It dragged me away from junk food and soda and toward more water and wholesome meals. I firmly believe that the more we go with nature’s flow, the happier we are. In fact, I would probably be a lot healthier if my sleep patterns followed daylight. Alas, that won’t be happening. But my point stands: loving the earth means loving yourself, which leads to more happiness!

Ok, so I went on a tangent there. But the point of this post is that will all the benefits I’ve accrued from loving the earth, there are some serious pitfalls. I experienced on of those pitfalls this morning.

Last night a friend pointed me to this heartbreaking slideshow of animals covered in oil sludge. I clicked through the photos, and I wanted to cry. I took that feeling with me to bed, and this morning when I set out on a run, I couldn’t shake it.

It was a beautiful day, still cool, with the sun slowly peeking out from behind the skyscrapers. I could smell the brackish water of the Hudson, which reminds me of home. But even though I had endorphins pumping through my body, I couldn’t shake the worry in my head.

I thought about the oil spill, which hit Florida today, and wondered how far would it go. With oil gushing out by the tens of thousands of gallons, possibly until Christmas, just how long will it take before I see my beautiful Chesapeake Bay glisten with a sinister rainbow sheen, and all the hard work of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is undone by tarballs?

I remember an illustrated children’s book from when I was little. In it, a little boy is bored with sorting the recycling, so he refuses. He is treated to a nightmare sequence showing the rainforest buried up to its canopy in trash. “This is the consequence if you don’t give a hoot about our planet,” was the implication.

I don’t remember if in that nightmare sequence the reader was treated to oil-covered beaches as far as the eye can see. But it would certainly fit. I mean, isn’t this the worse case scenario? Isn’t this just about as bad as it gets?

I kept pounding the pavement, propelling myself forward past other joggers and dog owners and nannies, thinking about how STUPID it was. How insanely dumb. How full of hubris we are. I thought about the guy from last weekend who belittled the reactions of people who are seeing the filth wash on shore. He didn’t really bother me much at the time, but I wanted to find him and shake him and say “NOW are you convinced you stupid a-hole? I hate you and all you stand for.”  In short, I let anger take me over.

I got angry at the cars whizzing by on the West Side Highway. Why can’t they take the train?

I got angry at the middle-aged suit on the subway with a plastic water bottle in his pocket. I stared him down, thinking, why can’t he get a reusable water bottle?

I got angry in the guy in the fancy Mercedes going to work, and then I got mad at all the people who think they are too good for the subway or the train, who have tons of money and think the good life includes clogging up our streets with honking yellow monsters.

I got angry at the convenience stores and their rows upon rows of stupid crap that no one needs.

I got angry at whoever came up with those stupid plastic bracelets shaped like animals that are soooo in right now, and the marketer that convinced every single middle schooler in the United States that they HAVE to buy like, a bajillion of them because, oh my God, if I don’t have one than I’m a huge loser.

When I sat down at my vanity after my shower, and looked at my group of organic lotions, deodorant, perfumes, and makeup pots, I got angry at the manufacturers who package everything in plastic. And then I got angry at myself for buying into it all and letting myself be convinced that I needed all this stuff to not only be happy, but to survive day to day.

At least when you love a person, and they get mistreated, you can give them a hug and a kiss and comfort them. Sometimes you can even march up to their tormenter and confront them. But I can’t do that with the earth. Hugging a tree won’t make it better. And I can’t live my life being angry at everyone, or worse, marching up to every person on the street and snatching their water bottle away, lecturing the guy trying to wave down a taxi, or glaring at every person with a Dunkin’ Donut bag in hand. (All of which I considered doing this morning.)

I don’t have a solution to this problem. Help me out here, please. What do you do in these moments of blind fury, when you want to punch every third person on the street for contributing to this stupid mess we got in? What do you think about or focus on to calm yourself down and give yourself hope?

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2 Responses to “The Downside of Loving the Environment”

  1. littlehousesouthernprairie Says:

    Thank you for this post! I have been feeling the exact same way and just don’t know what to do. using tote bags instead of plastic just feels so small and meek when looking at those pictures.

  2. Corey Says:

    I’m a pretty agnostic dude but I always loved the serenity prayer,

    God, grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    There are certain things beyond our control, we cannot change the past. But if we are committed to something in life then we can take actions consistent with that commitment, in your case helping the environment and promoting a healthy and joyous lifestyle. Then you can gauge the effectiveness of the actions you took and continue doing what you’re doing or try something else.

    -Life Coach Corey


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