This year, I began thinking about New Year’s resolutions early. The idea popped into my head about a month ago — green resolutions. I excitedly began thinking of all the really challenging things I feel I should do as someone who cares about the environment, but that either require planning, dedication, staunch routine-altering, learning new skills, or some impetus to get me started. The New Year seemed like the perfect such impetus. Although, the “learning new skills” point I’ve been getting an early start on so I’ll be ready on January first.
Last year, well, last February, I declared 2012 the year of “Getting My Hands Dirty.” Through quitting my office job and wwoofing, starting a fall garden and beginning the process of self-employment (more to come on that front), I consider the venture a success. While I want to continue my process of “getting dirty,” I also want to stretch to new goals for growth. I don’t yet know what my theme for this year will be, but I have a couple ideas: “Make Art Everyday” or “Passion Comes First.” I’ve really enjoyed having the time this year to get back in touch with my creative side. Making things and creating gives me such inner pleasure and completely busts stress; it “gets me out of my head,” if you will. As the end of the year approaches, I’ll continue brainstorming my new theme for next year.
As for green resolutions, the first one I thought up became a topic of debate in my house: 1. Buy less (no?) plastic. I kept eagerly mentioning it to my boyfriend, Tim, priding myself on what a great resolution I’d thought up. Then one evening, he said to me plainly that he didn’t want to inconvenience himself with avoiding plastic and that there were bigger fish to fry. I immediately became very defensive. How could he say buying plastic didn’t matter?! It’s filling our oceans, it’s causing endocrine disruption and cancer in our bodies, it kills tons of animals who mistakenly swallow or get caught in it, it’s not really recyclable beyond a time or two… my mind whirled. As we spoke back and forth a few quick times, trying to bring our points home, we realized finally that we weren’t really in disagreement. In my jump to the defensive, I had missed the point of his comment: That while it’s imperative to reduce our impact in our personal lives, we shouldn’t get caught up in the minutiae of reduction and forget about the actions that make a bigger difference, a distraction I commonly find myself wrapped up in. I can see why this occurs: We have control over our personal lives, purchases, ways of disposal and allocation of time. Our own practices are the most obvious place to begin. The idea that it isn’t enough is unsettling.
Tim’s wake up call reminded me of a book I read over the summer, which affected me deeply: What We Leave Behind by Derrick Jensen and Arik McBay. (There is a book review in the works!) The authors drive home the point that we need to conduct actions which make a bigger impact (or, more accurately, reduce civilization’s destruction of the planet to a greater degree) than the tiny practices our personal lives. According to the book, municipal waste accounts for only three percent of humans’ trash; the other ninety-seven percent can be attributed to industry. To my great frustration, the authors never really give a neat and tidy list of what measures we, mere civilians, can take. They mention direct action and using one’s talents to reach others, and other similarly ethereal ideas. I surmised that the answer I sought wasn’t that simple; I would have to think and research and brainstorm about it. I asked Tim what kinds of things he thought were worthy of our dedication, things that counted as “big.” He mentioned our garden, but beyond that we were sort of stumped. I continue to ponder this quandary daily as I consider my direction in life and my green resolutions… What else can I do that matters more? Do you have any ideas or suggestions for green resolutions? Here is my tentative list, which admittedly is mostly personal reduction and self-reliance-type things. I hope by the official New Year to have at least a few “big” items:
1. Buy less (no?) plastic.
2. Become involved in Citizens Climate Lobby. (I think I consider this a “big” thing.)
3. Learn to make soap “the hard way.”
Thanks for any suggestions you volunteer, and I’d love to hear about green resolutions of your own!