and writing) a lot about values. I'm convinced that the key to living life successfully--well, one of the keys--is to be clear about your values, beliefs, and morals, and then follow through. When we think of being true to your values, we think of it in grand decisions: the soldier in wartime refusing to follow through on an order, or a police officer refusing to be a part of a corrupt sting. Or with food. If you're a vegan, you just refuse to eat anything with meat, dairy, eggs, or any other animal products. If you're a vegetarian, you don't eat meat. You don't compromise for a cupcake, or ice cream, the way Grimes did. But when you're trying to be "eco-friendly," it's much more complicated and subtle. Every single action you take has ramifications for the environment: what you eat, how you dispose of your waste, what transportation you use, what you buy and where you buy it from. Being environmentally friendly can be an all-consuming task, especially when weighed against other factors, like your budget, where you live and work, and who your friends are. Still, I've been feeling a little hypocritical lately. Sure, my brand of sustainability is inclusive and welcoming. I don't nag my friends or be rude to people in the name of the planet. I try to live by example and when the opportunity arises, nudge the people around me in the right direction. Maybe I'll choose a farm-to-table restaurant for dinner, or take my boyfriend on a zero-waste grocery shopping trip. That, however, means compromise. People are always accidentally roping me into being unsustainable. It's the straws and plastic cups at the bar, the gifts from conventional brands, the friend asking me to just stop in Madewell for a bit to look around. I compromise more often than not, shrugging and taking the plastic cup and throwing it in the trashcan provided, cooing over the conventional clothing, and finding myself buying a pair of Madewell boots, saying to myself, "They are so cute and exactly what I've been looking for--I'll wear them constantly." I always feel like a bit of a failure because of these compromises. I feel like when people are out with me, they must think, "... I thought she had a sustainable blog? So why is she running around with a cocktail with a plastic straw? In Madewell boots!" Maybe they aren't judging me, but I'm judging myself. So I decided to run an experiment for the New Year. My New Year's resolution will be for one month not to compromise on my values. At all. I will do whatever it takes to live my life 100% environmentally friendly. I'm aware that No Impact Man has done this before--and in NYC--but I'm not interested in being a radical, in turning off my electricity and refusing to take take the subway because it runs on electricity. I just want to see what happens when I say, "No thank you, that isn't in line with my values." I want to see how my life changes when I work harder and do more, or give up things I thought were necessary or normal. I want to see if people get offended, like I fear they will. I want to see if it actually does take up a lot more of my time, or money. I want to see if I learn some things about myself and about eco-friendly living once I force myself to think deeper about what I'm doing every day, and maybe form some new habits.Lately I've been thinking (
The Rules of the GameHere are my values:
- Waste: Do not bring into my home or send out of it disposable waste that will end up in the landfill. Always find the proper receptacle for waste, even when I'm out and about and don't have easy access to recycling, etc.
- Food: Always eat organic and/or local.
- Consumption: Do not buy anything unnecessary. Only buy items that are made sustainably and to last, from companies I respect.
- Resources: Limit my use of resources like water and electricity.
- Chemicals: Only use non-toxic products.
- Plastic: Avoid plastic wherever possible.
Where I amJust to understand where I am, during the last two days of the year, I wrote down every way in which I compromised:
- I put some stray hairs in my bathroom trash can.
- I get a tea bag out of a Teapigs box, which has a plastic bag liner.
- I pour myself some cereal out of a box with a plastic bag liner.
- I receive a package sent in a plastic padded envelope and throw the envelope away.
- I use and throwaway a paper towel.
- I throw away a used, disposable duster attachment.
- I buy conventional produce (with little stickers on them) from the nearest grocery store to my apartment.
- I have tea with a business contact at a conventional coffee shop. When I leave, I put my cup in the bus bin--I have no idea if they're going to compost it or just throw it away. My guess is the latter.
- I buy a gift for my Aunt--some earrings by a local designer--and I accept the tiny, glossy shopping bag the associate offers me. Even though I've never found a way to reuse those shopping bags.
- I stop to buy some organic pasta and soup. I realize that I have forgotten my reusable bag, so I let the clerk put it all in a plastic bag.
- My boyfriend pulls some ground hamburger out of a plastic ziploc bag, then asks me what to do with the plastic bag. I tell him to toss it.
- I blow my nose and throw the tissue away.
- I eat some Reese's peanut butter cups I got for Christmas. (I. Love. Reese's.)
- I use a lint roller with the throwaway sticky sheet.
- I scoop my cat's poop into a plastic bag and throw it away.
- I use RGB nail polish remover pads, which come in little packets that aren't recyclable in NYC.
- I have a bunch of friends over to pregame before the New Year's celebrations. We order conventional pizza for everyone. I drink the champagne I am given and ask no questions.
- I head out to a party near my apartment, where I drink three bottles of water over the course of the night.