1. Denial – done that all my life about the environment
2. Anger – explained in yesterday’s post
3. Bargaining – I think I go through this every day, which is the reason why I’ve reached …
4. Depression – explained below
5. Acceptance – will it ever get to this? I hope not
There are mounting reports pouring out of every media outlet, ad nauseam, about the situation in the Gulf of Mexico. Just on Sunday morning, they found more plumes of oil underneath the water. Then yesterday, AP reports that BP is barely controlling the leak, finally managing to siphon some of the ooze onto a tanker. But engineers stated that oil may have already reached the “loop current” which will propel it into the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Keys. Obama wants to make sure that BP will pay for everything – the clean up and economic loss to the areas dues to the oil spill. But finger pointing has officially started, brazenly, along with fierce denials and accusations. According to Business Week, BP accuses Cameron’s faulty blowout preventer and also accuses Halliburton that built the cement wall around the pipe casing. Halliburton says it followed BP’s specification and it’s really the blowout preventer that failed. Cameron says it’s Halliburton’s fault. Meanwhile, the NY Times reports today that U.S. allowed BP and other oil companies to dig without proper permits. The amount of oil gushing out is worse than they thought and everyone is blaming everyone else. And if these bad news is not enough, a poll conducted by Public Policy revealed that ten percent of Americans think environmentalists sabotaged the oil rig and caused the explosion.
No. I’m not joking.
From being angry, now I feel an extreme sense of helplessness and I am in danger of just not caring because, I’m thinking, what’s the point? What would make this world so different just because I’m angry? I am so tired of hearing all the bad news. Like, when I read that my faithful, hard-working, crusader of all, Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the Safe Cosmetics Fragrance Report, and it revealed that there are, on the average, 29 chemicals in name-brand perfumes, of which are, 14 are “secret” (not on labels but found on testing), 10 are sensitizing (triggers allergic reactions), 4 are hormone disruptors (can disrupt natural hormones), and 12 are untested for safety (the government or industry), it didn’t even phase me. Bah~so what? If people want to pour toxic chemicals into their skin, literally, then, go ahead! Be self destructive. I don’t care anymore.
But then, my jaw literally dropped when I found out that there is petroleum in products that I was using that I wasn’t even aware of, like breath mints and gum!! Give me a break!! And you know the EWG-shoppers-guide that, again, EWG recently published? It turns out that I still can’t eat conventional strawberries or blueberries without ingesting pounds of pesticides!! Oh, and did you hear about how they think pesticides are being linked to ADHD? Ugh~!
What’s the point? I give up. Really. I first became mad, disgusted and emotional. But now I’m depressed. With all the wrong things surrounding me, I can’t see any good things. And big companies just do not care.
Then, it dawned on me.
I had a revelation, a rude awakening, if you will, that all these emotions are not caused by BP or Halliburton or Obama. Yeah, the industries are largely to blame. And most certainly, government is partially responsible too. But whom are they responding to ultimately? Me and you. Us. It’s the realization that we may have caused these disasters…that we are responsible for the demand of oil…that no matter what we try to do to reduce the demand, it’s not enough…. the fact that we still have the oil dependent lifestyle…the fact that there is this feeling of being sucked into a lifestyle that makes us depend on fossil fuel….like being addicted to something that we can’t quit, like cigarettes or crack. Once you tried it, you can’t stop. And that’s what’s depressing.
I struggle every day to reduce plastic consumption because I think it’s the right thing to do…because I read about it all the time….about persons like Beth Terry of “Fake Plastic Fish” who is on a crusade to reduce plastic in her life after seeing those pictures of albatross in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. She’s doing it to see if she can live without plastic. And her on-going lifestyle, I imagine, is very hard even for someone like her who lives in San Francisco where she can buy food in bulk, walk everywhere, has no kids, and has a very supportive husband who shares her quest. But she still comes across plastics in her life that she cannot avoid. Like dental floss. Like plastic buttons that sneak in when she buys new clothes. God forbid if she had to go to a hospital though. Would she refuse treatment because the syringe is made of plastic? An accidental activist, Colin Beavan, of No Impact Man, led a “no impact” life for a year, with a small young family in the middle of Manhattan because he can walk or bike everywhere and again, he can buy foods in bulk without packaging, most of the time. Then when the project stopped, his wife flew to see her family, they started drinking coffee again (actually, they started during the project despite the fact that coffee is not locally grown), and started using electricity again.
So you see, we cannot live without fossil fuel. We cannot create no waste. I certainly cannot grow our entire food supply in our tiny backyard for my carnivorous family of four. What do we do? What do I do?
As much as I try to be responsible by using reusable grocery bags, recycling plastics, and refusing to buy plastic and buy glass or stainless steel, but I feel like they will not make a diddly difference in the overall scheme of things. I know that’s a fatalistic and a cop out view. And yeah, you might say, and I said it a million times to myself as I recycle yet another plastic detergent bottle, “even ONE act will make a difference.” But it’s sometimes hard to think that when I buy from “green” companies like Seventh Generation and Method but their packaging is still using a ton of plastic. How about those celebrity green gurus who jet around the world to give speeches and attend summits on environmental conferences and appearances? They are using up so much fossil fuel in the process. I abhor one guy in particular who lives in Pa. but has lunches in NYC and tweets about it. He talks about an interview he has with a raw foodie in LA, then, brags about a lunch he has with a producer in NYC the next day. Give me a break!!
I’m tired. May be I have green fatigue. I am getting discouraged. I am questioning green bloggers, like myself, who professes to know everything about being green. There. I said it. What do we know, really, when we can’t even make a difference in getting companies to stop manufacturing plastic grocery bags after all these years of saying it over and over again how bad that is. Or to stop companies to manufacture plastic bottle water. Or to stop people from buying cheap plastic crap from China. How about this one? I have a SUV that we leased three years ago, before I began this green journey. I needed to shuttle two active teenagers with big sporting gears and I had no choice. But now that the lease is ending and my son is off to college, we don’t need as big of a car so we are looking into buying a smaller one. Do you think this is an easy decision to make when I still have to take money, energy efficiency, and functionality issues into consideration? Oh, how about sending my son down to North Carolina for college? That’s far enough that I’d have to put him on a plane once in awhile. Should I feel guilty about that? Sending him to a college closer to home so as not to create a huge carbon footprint is not exactly a smart educational decision so why am I thinking about the carbon footprint when clearly, it’s the only choice for him?
This guilt, this feeling of being “addicted” to oil, and this feeling of hopelessness are troublesome. This phase might pass. I just might be a little over-stimulated by all these preventable disasters, coupled with weather related disasters like tornadoes, volcanoes, and earthquakes we had this year. Or it could be hormones. Who knows. But I may need some decompression therapy, real soon.
Hope your ‘take’ on all this is better than mine. I’m usually the one dishing out information. But it took me awhile to write this post as I couldn’t put my finger on why I was feeling so down.
What do you think about my fatigue? What do you do when you feel helpless and get hit with green fatigue? I would really love some help on this one because deep down, I know my fighting spirit will prevail but I’m just tired these days.
Oh, on that note…