Sunday, January 22, 2012

Superior, Judgmental me.

I work with a woman who has the smallest carbon footprint of anyone I have ever met. Probably smaller than most of our country, aside from those that are able to live out of the way and provide their own electricity and such. I wish I had the dedication to be that kind of person.

This woman does not have a cell phone. She buys only local, organic products. She makes her own soap. She is one of the only people I have ever met that is a TRUE Vegan. She uses no animal products. None. Even her make up. I asked.

She drives an electric car. She lives in the city and shops only at places she can walk to. She is a yoga teacher. 

This woman is obnoxiously Vegan. But, in a good way. In a way that I admire. So often people say they are Vegan but wear leather. Or use soap with animal products. Or make up. Or shampoo. It is truly a lifestyle that requires a lot of work to change to. And I admire the work she has put in.

In her previous life, she was a drug addict and an alcoholic. She got clean and she overhauled her life. It is honorable.

People like this humble me. I try so hard to live a lifestyle that I feel is right and good and responsible. I don't buy process foods, with very few exceptions. Pasta being one of them. I just don't have the energy to make pasta every time I need it. Bread is another for similar reasons.

We take grocery bags to the store. We shop locally when possible. Organic when we can afford it. 

We both refuse to work for "the man" and work for locally owned and run businesses. 

We want to move downtown, where we both work, and eliminate one car. I would love to ride my bike to work. I would also love to own a bike. Baby steps.

It never feels like enough. When I meet people like this woman, I just feel like a sham. Like a Vegan who wears leather. And I understand that doing what I can is something. It is a start. But it is frustrating that it is so expensive to do, what I believe to be, the right thing. It costs gas to drive to local butchers, because there are none in the city. It costs gas to drive to local grocery stores, because, again, there are none in the city. Farmers markets are awesome if you can afford them. Mostly, we can't. Anyone who thinks they are cheaper is wrong. Unless, once again, you load up the car and head to the country.

She doesn't have a cell phone. Or cable television. I doubt she even owns a television, to be honest. 

I own a cell phone. I have cable. I watch more television than I am willing to admit here. I can't afford an electric car. I can't afford to live in the city, where I can walk or ride a bike everywhere. I can't afford to buy reusable zip lock bags (totally just discovered these existed.) I can't afford to replace our windows which are about the equivalent to duct taped plastic at this point.

Doing what I can is enough because it has to be. I am choosing a lifestyle where there are only so many sacrifices I am willing to make. Which, essentially, is what's wrong with this country, right? We are selfish. We are spoiled. We are not willing to do without for the sake of the overall good of this world. 

I went to Sam's Club today to stock up on the wasteful American things I am not willing to go without. Paper towels (although we use cloth napkins. What? How awesome am I?), toilet paper, simple green, tissues, zip lock baggies, etc. So, I am walking through the store in my usual daze, paying zero attention to the people around me. And I see this couple with a brand new baby. They are arguing about fruit juice and I find myself judging them because the brand they choose is essentially just sugar water. I glanced at their cart. Chips, soda, cereal, frozen, processed food. It was literally all empty calories. There was nothing at all of nutritional value. We went through the checkout together and walked out together. They got into a Ford F150. For the sake of my argument, I looked up the gas mileage. 13/mpg.

I see things like that all the time. A part of me feels bad for them, because they probably don't know. Or can't afford any different. We've all had weeks where all we could afford was Ramen Noodles. But, mostly, they probably don't care. That food tastes good. It is easy to make. And that makes me a little angry. And there are reasons to own a pick up. Certainly. I don't know their situation.

This puts me somewhere in the middle, I suppose. I am not the perfect Vegan (nor would I ever be Vegan, but you know what I mean) nor am I oblivious to the repercussions of the choices I make. As I sit with my laptop on my lap, my iPhone inches away from me, my flat screen TV on and my kindle a few feet away, I realize I am just as bad. I am just as wasteful. And I really don't have any room to judge anyone.  But, I know I will. I know I will look at the people with nothing but processed food and soda in their cart, and I will feel sorry for them. 

I know I have no right to. I know that I am not superior to anyone because we all make our choices for a reason. But, I just can't help feel a little bit better about myself as I explain to the cashier that, no, in fact Kale is not the same thing as Spinach. And, yes, ma'am, all I am buying is produce, eggs, and milk.

3 comments:

Josey said...

The carbon footprint is a difficult thing for sure.

Maybe someone buying processed, cheap food doesn't have much money, and in turn don't have tv, cell phones, kindles, and the like...so in a way their carbon footprint is as small as yours, just in a different way?

It's hard to be green. We try too, but I know we fail in a multitude of ways.

Mrs. Case said...

My husband drives an F150. Ha! :)

We buy nutritional food, though. And my kid eats only organic (can't afford it for the rest of us where we live. You'd think "organic" was a dirty word in my town. No, seriously.)

Mrs. Case said...

My husband drives an F150. Ha! :)

We buy nutritional food, though. And my kid eats only organic (can't afford it for the rest of us where we live. You'd think "organic" was a dirty word in my town. No, seriously.)