I couldn’t help myself

Recently I saw this video- http://www.storyofstuff.com/  It’s nothing that I didn’t know before, but it’s still revealed some new truth for me- new ways of looking at things. I highly recommend you take the 20 minutes to watch it. I really felt like it was a concise and honest way to look at the issue.

It got me thinking a lot about how reasonable the case for sustainability is. I know lots of people who say things like “oh, I’ll try to be green and recycle and stuff, but it’s crazy to think that we can really abandon this whole way of life.” Seriously though, if we aren’t living sustainably, then how are we to SUSTAIN? Who’s really fooling themselves here? I mean really, how much more work are we looking at if we DON’T completely revamp things. We just plain can’t continue living this way if we are to survive as a species.

It is difficult, surely. Not that long ago I made that resolution to not eat meat when I go out (because I can’t tell where it came from and I don’t want to support the commercial meat industry, I want to encourage the use of sustainably and humanely raised livestock, etc.). This proved to be difficult for me. I found myself thinking about how much I really loved a certain dish- like I can’t imagine not having meat Bi Bim Bop from this place downtown again, or there’s this amazing burger at this little place up the street that I can’t give up, or what about all the awesome ethnic foods that I adore that I am afraid I won’t be able to accurately recreate in my kitchen… and GAH I can’t do it! So I wimped out for a bit. I gave in. I started *mostly* sticking to this resolution. I made excuses. Why? Because I wanted things. I wanted to enjoy myself, feel comfortable in the moment…
I am wiping the slate clean, however, and starting over with this. I NEED to do these things that I am convicted about. I have that pang in my conscience for a reason, ya know? I need to be ruthless and consistent. I have a beautiful daughter that I don’t want to have to deal with the destruction of the planet. I want her to live in a place that is peaceful and good and clean. I want her to understand that, in the words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.”
I have made a lot of changes in my life to try to live more ethically. I grow my own food in the summer, I belong to a CSA, I buy pastured meat from local farms, I use “green” cleaning products, I recycle, I carpool, I conserve energy in my home, I buy used things… it’s not really like I’m slacking here. But, then again, I’d like to say I’m doing the best I can, but I’m not. There’s more that I can do and I know it. I give in to temptation all the time. Like, what the hell am I doing buying a pair of pants that was made by children in Mexico who got paid next to nothing just so I could have them for 14 bucks?
The thing is, I am not ignorant about many of these things. I would rather be deprived than ignorant. And really, I’d still have everything I need to make me happy even without the pants or the burger or whatever. Hell, probably happier. Could I really be free from the bonds of mass consumption and popular culture? Could I tell myself what is real and valued rather than being told? What do I really value in my life? My family, my friends, my values, my education, my… pants?
This is hard for me to look at honestly. I feel like I did when I quit smoking. “You mean, no more cigarettes? Ever? Uh… well I mean, I’m only smoking 3/4 of a pack a day and it might be cool to wait to quit until New Years and I have all these cigarettes left and if I’m gonna cheat then I might as well just be a smoker and… forever?” I had to do it one day at a time. Sometimes 5 minutes at a time. And I’m better for it. I’m healthier, I’m happier, I’m free of the bonds of that addiction. I had to quit. So, when I look at having to quit a whole lifestyle, well, I think I may have to take the same approach.

To quote my dear sister (who prompted this entry): “Many people would say and think, well, It’s just once in awhile, it’s just a burger, it’s just a pair of pants. It’s ok if you really want it THIS TIME. And to that I would counter with: If we know that our clothing is made on the backs of women and children living in poverty, with poor labor conditions, dyed and “distressed” with minerals taken from a blown up mountain that used to be a holy place to an indigenous group, with cotton grown in a field sprayed with half a dozen toxic chemicals that seep into the ground water and then make their way into the drinking water of Joe Schmoe and his kids living downriver, well…IS IT just a pair of pants? Or am I essentially complicit in slave labor, perpetuating poverty and poisoning poor children? “

EDIT: I’m not sure why but this entry was a little butchered and I lost the last part of this “rant”. I’m unfortunately unable to remember exactly what I put, nor do I have the energy to rewrite it. Ah well. You get the point.

March 11th:

    came over to visit and brought Vera these cute little stuffed animals (which Maya has been putting up a fight for) and this crocus plant. It’s beautiful, and today it has 3 of these purple blooms on it. I can plant them outside in the spring.

March 12th:
I’m keeping busy, and man is it good for me. Yesterday I went out for lunch with my sister and Tuula, and our friend Beth and her baby Johnny. She moved across the state and I haven’t seen her in a long time. It was great to hang out with her, but equally as great to be out all moms and babies and loveliness… Vera didn’t really make much of an appearance, she slept the whole time, but Tuula and Johnny were so cute together! I love that they are all at such different stages. Tuula is almost 1, Johnny is 6 months, Vera 1 month. Next time she comes it’ll be great to see how they’ve all changed further.
I went home and read for a bit, then Jeff’s sister Sarah came over and hung out for a while with her daughter (Marissa, 21 months). I love that I get along so well with his family. She’s really a friend, and it was great that she just called and wanted to visit without Jeff- just us and our daughters. Then we got more visits from a couple of other friends who hadn’t met Vera yet. Then I went for a walk with the dog because the weather is that amazing about-to-be-spring weather, where it’s crisp and snowy but it smells really good and indescribable…
By the end of the night I was glad to be alone with my family. We watched The Wonder Years and ate eggplant parmesan… It was a really nice day.

March 13th:
She smells good and indescribable, just like spring.

Bonus picture:
Cousin Marissa holding Vera. Marissa LOVES the baby and was very upset when she couldn’t hold her anymore.

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (6)

  1. norwaygranny

    That photo of the crocus is gorgeous – What kind of camera do you use?

    The babies are gorgeous too.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Thanks! I’m glad you like them. 🙂

      My camera is nothing fancy- it’s just a small digital thing:
      http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPL4/CPL4A.HTM

      Reply
  2. pithy_epigrams

    Ah! Sometimes I feel SO overwhelmed. I want to always live my life in a way I feel is ethical, but it seems like there is so much to do. So much to change! How do you balance it all???

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      That’s how I always felt too- and I suppose it’s always a ‘do the best you can’ kind of thing- but I’m starting to think that we just have to dive in and forget about being overwhelmed. I mean, yes, it’s overwhelming, but that’s where the one day at a time comes in. I think maybe we just can’t balance it- we have to try our hardest. Obviously we can’t do it all, but we can do what we see and what we have power over in our own lives. Basically what it’s coming down to for me is that I know for a fact that the day is coming where we can no longer live this way, and I know it won’t be pretty. I don’t want to see that day knowing that I could’ve done more, shared more, been more active in trying to fight this. I think when that day comes we won’t be thinking about how we gave up some things and it was all about balance… we’ll be thinking “dammit, I had so much more power than I thought I did!” Besides, we’re only easing our transition really…

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    the crocus is beautiful and very-pie is just to cute!

    so where are you going to buy pants? is it ok to buy pants made in china or mexico if they are used or does that also perpetuate the bad cycle? i’m just wondering..

    i’m happy to see you sticking so strongly to your convictions!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yep, I’m gonna just have to buy them used. I buy most of my clothes used anyway- but pants are one of those things that I always got new because it’s so hard to find a good fit/style that I want without all the options in a new store. Anyway, I think it doesn’t eliminate the bad cycle (to buy those clothes used), but it puts what would be waste to good use, and it also keeps me from contributing to the demand for new stuff.
      I suppose ideally I’d like to buy all US made organic clothing- but unfortunately the socks made like that are like 10 bucks a pair, and we just can’t afford it. Hopefully it’ll become mainstream enough to lower the costs so we can afford it. I’m more ok with brands like American Apparel, and I’d be willing to support that kind of an effort.

      Reply

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