I’m greener than you syndrome

One of the big problems I’m having with “No Impact week“ is that it feels kind of competitive:  many bloggers seems to be saying “I’m greener than you.”  I want to do my part, but I don’t want to become like the woman who came to a dinner party at our home and went through our kitchen garbage to look for items that “should” be recycled.

I think it’s easy to get obsessed with individual actions and not participate in the bigger issue.  It’s kind of like addressing the feral cat problem by simply neutering one’s cats and keeping them indoors.  Yes, that means you’re a responsible pet owner, but it doesn’t do anything to curb the wild cat reproduction, the overcrowded animal shelters, and the people who don’t spay or neuter or vaccinate.  So, the problem escalates, while the “good” cat owner feels superior and looks down on the neighbor who appears uncaring.  The issue will only be addressed fully when people come together to work on solutions and support each other on community-wide initiatives.

I think this experiment has been instructive in some regards, as far as making me aware of my consumption.  But I have to admit I kind of resent feeling guilty about buying olives or blueberries when there are millions of people in the world enjoying them freely.  Maybe ignorance is bliss and awareness is hell.

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3 thoughts on “I’m greener than you syndrome

  1. I feel the same way! It’s been a fun week so far–enlightening and all–but I don’t want to be made to feel guilty because I was “less green” about a choice I made. I recently blogged about this too.

  2. Well said! I dislike that competitive aspect of this, too! I find it hard to avoid sounding sickeningly self-righteous when documenting this sort of thing. I read my own posts and hate myself, but I don’t have the computer time & mental energy to insert compensatory self-deprecating language into my posts, and I fear that would just come off as disingenuous, anyway. I completely agree that the fundamental problems are only going to be effectively addressed when we work together on the large things; I can spend all the time I want avoiding plastic and turning the lights off, but I think we need individual action/choice and larger systemic change, together.

  3. I think you’ve articulated this issue very well. Most people I know, from those who occasionally recycle a plastic water bottle to super green heroes, grew into their practices with baby steps. I have myself, and I presently fall somewhere between the two. I thought twice about posting my video about less impact not being about deprivation because I was sure that someone would view it and find fault with something that could be greener. But I put it out there- not allowing perfection to get in the way of progress. That being said, I think one reason it’s harder to be magnanimous about green issues is that we all share the planet- so personal actions affect us all. This week has helped me personally to tidy up some habits where I had become careless, and to develop some good habits. Thank you for your candor and for sharing.

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