Thursday, October 18, 2007

Who Cares About Saving the Planet??

Well, I guess I do. But I feel very, very mixed about it.

I'm engaged in a few home repair projects. Some are short term, some are longer term. Some involve nasty stinky chemicals that are unnatural, bad for me and my family, and no doubt "bad for the environment." Some involve making choices about products to purchase, which can be better or worse for the environment. So I find myself asking, who cares? I guess I do.

I have air conditioners. They work fine. They're the though the window type. They're paid for. But yet, I am contemplating paying $600 to replace them (but not get rid of them, they'll go to the basement for storage) with ceiling fans. I find myself thinking that between the cost to buy the fans and the electricity I'll still be using, it won't make a difference. Sure, you say, every little bit helps.

We are about to repaint some rooms. I can use the extraordinarily expensive low VOC (volatile organic compounds), natural based paints that dry without horrible fumes, or pay still too much for the basic paint. We'll be hiring people to do the painting during time we will be out of our house on vacation, so the fumes may well be irrelevant.

I have nice lights. Not a single one of them can take the new CFL bulbs. They are all halogen, which are long lasting and still halfway decent for the environment (and take up much less room in landfills). Do I replace them to the tune of hundreds of dollars I don't have, or just feel guilty about it?

Just like most of us, I want the planet to be in good shape for my son to inherit it. I want to do my part for global warming. I have a share in a CSA (community sponsored agricultural project), and buy local at every opportunity. I have stopped buying water in plastic bottles and carry my own. I don't buy seltzer anymore in favor of my own, environmentally savvy Soda Club system (even better because it is an Israeli company I even have switched to using Method products at home. My son drinks organic milk, eats organic eggs, cheese and some veggies (given that the roster of things that he'll eat seems to shrink daily). I use as many natural products as I can. I even pay more for "green power" from my local power company (yes, I am that sucker).

I imagine that we all have similar conflicts. I want very much to be responsible: I want to protect my son with sun-sensitive skin from the depleting ozone layer, I want him not to be exposed to chemicals, and I want the world to be beautiful for him in his life like it was when I was a child. But yet it costs more and more every day to be environmentally responsible, and I don't have the cash. Part of me just wants to ignore it and wait for it to go away. But then I feel guilty, really guilty, when I have the chance to make a choice and I don't want to make one that could eventually contribute to the downfall of civilization.

Now that I've confessed all my sins to you, I'm going to plan out my trip to the local farmers' market tomorrow. And then I'll be getting in my gas guzzling non-hybrid car to drive out to the "country" to spend time with friends for Shabbat, where I'll make lots of garbage and won't be able to recycle it because they don't do that everywhere.

Ugh. This is impossible. I am sure that you, my dear reader, would say that I'm doing OK, doing the best I can. But where can we get the list of instructions for how real women are supposed to do this? Which choices are the best for our world, for our families? And how can we not go broke in the process?


Katy said...

We all just have to do the best we can with what we've got, right? Sounds like you're approaching the brave new green world with your eyes wide open - and that's better than most.

Maya said...

I'm glad you brought this up. It KILLS me, over the chagim, to be invited out and eat off all that paper and plastic. Guess what? biodegradable flatware!! Yes, it's more expensive, but it's reusable. Plus you can compost it because it's made of corn. (

For Pesach I've got clear glass dishes, which, at a dollar a pop, are cheaper and nicer than paper, easy and quick to clean. Available everywhere.