Saturday, April 30, 2011


I sometimes drink bottled water instead of tap.

I sometimes eat fast food.

I use a plastic throwaway straw once a week or so.

I occasionally buy bags of chips, or plastic-wrapped candies.

Once in a while, I toss something I could've recycled.

I've been known to lose litter & not retrieve it.

I've bought "cheaper" instead of "more eco."

I fly in airplanes long distance for fun.

I drove an oil-dripping muscle car.

I then drove an oil-dripping rust-bucket V8 pickup truck.

I then drove a 4-wheel-drive SUV.

I shun our local public transporation because it's inconvenient.

I sometimes judge people who pollute more than I do.

I sometimes judge people who pollute less than I do.

Now and then, what I crave most of all is an ice-cold Coke.

The past couple of years for me has been a slow wake-up. A chance to realize that there is such a thing as sustainable, sensitive living. That it matters -- that it's imperative. I realize now the level of damage that comes with some of the choices & options of modern life. Both to my generation and to the next. I see it, and pick it up, every week. Washed in, left behind. I admire the people who bend over backwards to put a full stop to it in their lives. I read their blogs, and nod in appreciation.

Still, I also recognize that my world is one of baby steps. I find a new way to consume less here. Waste less there. Reuse here, recycle there. I pick up more of what I see, which helps me see more to pick up.

But I've never been the one to make the grand gesture, the bold pledge, the cold-turkey quit. That, I leave to others.

I take pride in the choices I make now compared to a few years ago. But as I write on the ills of waste & thoughtlessness, I do so with a sense of my own limits. With the humility that, for all my talk and efforts, I too have been -- and continue to be -- part of a mainstream culture that most highly values the impulse of the moment over all else.


  1. Harry, it'd be great if everyone did "the grand gesture" but we can also look at it this way. If everyone just did a few baby steps (e.g., stopped buying and using so much plastic, stopped throwing cigarette butts out the window) and practiced them regularly, the world would be a WHOLE lot better off and it would make a bigger impact than a few people doing the grand gestures.

  2. Thanks Jen! That's kind of how I see it. What's that saying, "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good"?

  3. Ok... now I have a confession. I read this post yesterday right before I walked out of the house to go to the grocery store. AND... it did something to me!!

    We've been making changes slowly over the past 7-8 years... but-- as you know-- for the past 8 months, I've really taken on this whole process of trying to eliminate single use disposable plastics from our lives. Collecting our plastic waste for the entire year, puts me in this constant state of "ack... I don't want to buy that! It'll add to our tally. What will people say?? If I use that, am I a hypocrite??" And in all honesty, some things are easy to find a non-plastic alternative... some things are easy to live without... but there are some things... that from time to time are just nice to have. Soooo....

    while we were at the grocery store my kids asked for pretzels, chips and dip. We haven't bought them in 8 months... but I bought them yesterday! Here's my thought... we certainly don't have to live without... we can scale back the things we choose to buy. Like if we buy something once a week... maybe scale it back to once a month... and then it'll grow from there :)

    It's so important to look at the good things you ARE doing and not get sidetracked with the things you're not. Lasting change happens slowly... and no doubt you will find your own perfection in the imperfections of this world. (<--meaning: do what works for you. take inspiration from others. but don't judge or hold anyone... including yourself... up to false standards).

    So... thank you for confessing. It's exactly what I needed :)

    Oh... and I'm guessing that your plastic straw days are numbered now that you're going to have a glass straw!!!

  4. I like these group confessions! I'm so with you. The joy for me has been realizing that making real change doesn't have to feel like a heavy sacrifice. It's just a question of relooking at things. (Like straws, exactly! I'm so stoked to get my Glass Dharma one.) If I pushed it too hard, I think it'd just make me lose my love for the whole Flotsam Diaries thing. Which would be a real shame.

    Maybe we need to coin a new term: "sustainable sustainability"

    Now, I think I'm going to dive into a bag of chips myself. But will hold off on the Coke. :)

    And thx much for the note. It made me smile ear to ear.