Okay, so really Blog Action Day has come and gone, and I really wanted to participate. So, I am going to anyway with a post-dated entry. I’m sure my friends and family will indulge me because they all know that on October 15 I was in transit, moving my entire life, me, my partner, and my cat, from Oakland, California to Chicago. Let’s just say that the days preceding and just following that date were a little busy for me.
So, this year, Blog Action Day was about the environment. G and I are actively trying to live more sustainably, embracing habits of eating mostly organic, buying products locally grown and made, recycling, trying to walk more and drive less, and using environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Being in the midst of one of my biggest life changes, moving 2,000 miles to another city, I can say that some of these values were set aside, put on hold, if you will, and some might say chucked out the window because it is either inconvenient or expensive.
This move has put me in touch with just how privileged I am. Movers packed our stuff, loaded it onto a big truck, and as I write this, someone is driving our things across the country to our new home, and more movers will come to carry it all up three flights of stairs. Professional house cleaners came to scour our apartment once it was empty. The day before we left, Gillian and I went to have pedicures.
No matter what, moving is stressful. I was able to hire people to do a lot of the physical labor for me, and I still feel tired. I have done a good deal of heavy lifting to get us here, but nothing like Dan who could carry three heavy boxes at a time down our stairs and out to the truck. I am incredibly grateful, and I fully recognize my privilege.
And even so, I was not able to do everything in an environmentally friendly way because G and I could not afford it. We didn’t want to keep our hide-a-bed sofa, and when attempts to give it away were unsuccessful, we paid some haulers to take it away. The “environmentally friendly” haulers (as they marketed themselves) charged $50 more than the regular haulers that we hired. And they turned out to be a gay couple that we really liked who recycled all of their hauls in an environmentally sound way, anyway.
It’s interesting to me that the “green” hauling company feels that they can charge more for offering the same service that is marketed in a different way. The “green” house cleaners would have cost hundreds of dollars more than the cleaning ladies from our neighborhood, who I’m pretty sure don’t use environmentally friendly cleaning products.
I believe in the “green tax,” paying more for products that are made sustainably and that do not harm the environment. I will patronize local businesses over big chains to support the local economy instead of large corporations. I will pay more for organically grown produce. I have the ability to pay more, and because I want to do my part and be a good citizen, I will. But it is a privilege to be able to do so.
Living green should not be a luxury. It is a responsibility. If we’re going to live in a capitalist economy, and if the captains of industry are really interested in doing good for the environment, then they need to find a way to make green accessible to all. Some say that demand from the middle class will create green trends at all class levels.
While I’m suspicious of WalMart’s new “organic” line of food, I have to ask the question, isn’t this the way things should be going? Sure, WalMart is capitalizing on the whole green/organic movement, but this is also a company that caters to the working class with its low prices. Believe me, I’m no fan of WalMart, but isn’t this kind of marketing the right idea? Shouldn’t the green movement want to reach the working class in any way possible? Can’t the green movement find a way to capitalize on WalMart’s efforts to promote green living?
As we settle into our new home, G and I will clean the coils of our refrigerator with green cleaning products, replace old bulbs with CFL bulbs, educate ourselves about the green movement here in Chicago, support local businesses with sustainable practices, and otherwise continue to pay the green tax here. We will be mindful of the things we accumulate, acquiring things that will contribute to our quality of life, recycling and regifting things that we no longer need or use. We probably won’t shop at WalMart, but I won’t look down my nose at anyone who does. We probably will shop at Whole Foods, which won’t make me feel more virtuous.
I do whatever I can in my daily life to leave a lighter footprint, and I will continue to write and talk about ways that green living should be a responsibility for everyone, not a choice only for those who can afford it. This is the only way that living green will make a real difference.