Posted on | November 16, 2009 |
Am I Dwight?
Sure, this video is a gross exaggeration, but, like every scenario on The Office, it’s got some roots in the truth. As an “environmentalist” and someone who publicly encourages others to clean up their acts and turn to a greener lifestyle, I try to do as much as I can to actually walk the walk too. I say “try” because there are definitely things I still do (eating meat, taking cabs) that give me that cringeworthy “what if someone sees me doing this?” feeling, but now I actually feel like that’s a good thing because it helps keep me on track with the person I want to be. If you represent yourself as someone who lives an eco-conscious lifestyle, here are a few things that you’ll want to make sure you’re doing - or not doing - as much as humanly possible if you don’t want to be called a hypocrite (a.k.a. a self-greenwasher) along how well I am actually sticking to each of these practices myself.
1. Turn off and unplug your computer at night
As a blogger, I rely heavily on my computer in order to get my work done. And when I say “heavily” I mean no computer=no blogging and no blogging=no livelihood. Being a blogger that writes about environmental issues puts me in kind of a weird position - I’m actually using tons and tons of energy everyday on my computer while trying to persuade people to use less power. Well, living in the age that we live in, there’s no way we’re going to be able to give up our beloved machines, but there is something that every green blogger has no excuse NOT to do: power down your computer at night or when you’re not using it and pull the plug out of the socket. It may seem like a serious annoyance to do every evening but whenever I think about cheating and not doing it, I think about how I would act if the readers who look at my articles everyday were in the room with me. Needless to say, it gets done.
2. Take the subway or bus whenever humanly possible
This is a tough one and one that a bunch of so-called environmentalists in the city (including yours truly) are guilty of not doing. Don’t get me wrong - during the hours of 7am to 11pm, I wouldn’t be found in a cab unless I was with a group of others who wanted to take one (making the trip relatively eco-friendly because we’re all sharing the emissions) or I was carrying something heavier than my own body a distance of more than 10 blocks. No, my guiltiest moments don’t occur until after 11pm when, after attending an event or having a few drinks with friends, the thought of taking an hour+ ride on a deserted subway just doesn’t seem feasible to me. So yes, I will take a cab home when those shameful occasions arise but I am vowing to either not stay out so late, or make sure I have at least one friend to cab it home with. So far, I have failed on both accounts 8 out of 10 times in the last 2 months. Yeah - definitely gotta work on that one…
3. Using your own container when you buy coffee, drinks or food outside
This is one that is pretty tough to adhere to but I think I’m doing a decent job. The most difficult part is getting over the stigma of looking like a weird person. I’ve had to refuse napkins and takeout boxes (I can carry a panini in my hand, thanks very much) 2 or 3 times before clerks can comprehend that I really, really don’t want them. When I’m caught out and about without my own reusable food container, I have to just politely turn down the offers of friends who insist on buying me something. “I don’t want to waste a cup” just doesn’t seem like the “cool” thing to say. And I’ve humiliated myself more than a handful of times trying to carry cupcakes home without a box. You know what though? All worth it.
4. Unplug your chargers
This one is a no-brainer but it’s crazy how many people just can’t be bothered to do it. I pretty much annoy everyone in my family about this, but it’s a dead giveaway sign of an eco-hypocrite, so I’m pretty vigilant about it.
5. Keep your big-box store, non-eco purchases to a minimum
Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely adore shopping and fashion. I think it all started with turning a certain age, getting a real job, and finally being able to afford cool stuff for myself. But writing about environmentally-conscious design and preaching about how we need to support eco-friendly fashion and commerce, I really couldn’t keep up my unsustainable shopping habits. Well sort of. I still buy things that I love, but I buy less and from designers that I believe in for their sustainable ethos. I also shop at thrift shops which is pretty much guilt free and a heck of a lot cheaper. In the past year and a half, I’ve only relapsed 3 or 4 times (buying stockings at Target or a dress at Loehmann’s) and while the sustainable and socially conscious pieces I’ve purchased have been generally more expensive than something at H&M might be, I’ve saved a ton of money!