Progress: Impositions

Time is getting away from me these days- understandable, with illness, Inauguration, a visit from my Dad, a return to classes, and the gentleman friend’s birthday (today!) all this week.  I start every week with the most enthusiastic posting intentions, and get lost by Tuesdays.  I’m not hoping to make this daily all the time- I appreciate your attention, so I won’t waste your time when I really haven’t got much to say.  I just hope it evens out some day.

While there’s plenty going on in environment news, I’d like to ramble about something else today.  (If you’re interested in keeping up, the Wilkins ice shelf is collapsing in Antarctica due to Global Warming, Lisa Jackson’s appointment to the EPA is still raising legitimate concerns, and we’ve got hard data showing how much faster dirty air kills you).  But today it’s the monthly goal on my mind, and it’s leading to a larger question.  The uncluttering goal is going well, in so far as I’ve cleaned out my place and today I organized the gentleman friend’s closet for him, for his birthday.  I also found some nice sweaters or him at the Salvation Army, and I’m getting him a compost bucket so he can bring his foodscraps to my compost bin when he visits. What a great birthday for him, hunh?! He is very appreciative- he even seemed to like my suggestion that we spend some time tonight making a pile of his excavated clothing to donate.

That wasn’t all.  I am not so single-minded that I do not appreciate how underwhelming this birthday fun sounds.  There was computer hardware and music and dinner and a keg and Cheetos for his party.  Kegs are the ultimate reuseable drink containers, by the way, despite their frat connotations.  Check Total Wine for containers of good things- call them to check what’s in stock, it might be better than what’s listed.  I digress.

The GF supports me, and he makes an effort to reduce, recycle, and reuse.  But ultimately, this is my set of goals, and I know better than to assume they’re his.  While you can give a boyfriend a compost bucket, you can’t make him fill it.  After my initial rush of sustainable enthusiasms, I occasionally wonder if I’m pushing him too hard with my efforts.  He complains about the smell of my compost and the meatlessness of my cupboard, and my reluctance to use non-hippie toothpastes.  These are all understandable complaints.  

I don’t feel like I’m being held back because the GF’s not as pro-active environmentally, and that’s where we work.  I have asked him to post here on his view of this, so you might be getting a diatribe on compost buckets in small apartments from him soon.  

So, how do you balance your environmentalism with that of your friends and/or loved ones?  Do you do it all together, or does one of you take the lead?  Are there things you don’t do for the environment to keep your SO happy?  I am curious.

7 Responses to “Progress: Impositions”

  1. 1 BullMooser08 January 26, 2009 at 11:48 am

    It’s hard to balance my personal passion for environmentalism with others’ lack of enthusiasm. In the past I used to justify my sermonizing with all sorts of facts and figures, but since I think I came across as holier-than-thou or preachy, I just try to weave environmentalism in and out of the conversation without lavishing praise or heaping scorn upon those who make a conscious effort to green themselves and those who simply don’t care or reject the global warming idea altogether. By presenting (or hoping to) environmentalism as a normal part of adult life (and not simply confined to environmentalists), I hope that others will begin to feel internal pressure to conform to changing norms without external pressure. It’s a less confrontational way of promoting environmentalism, but I have absolutely no idea whether it is successful or not.

    On an unrelated note, do you know where I could acquire information about composting in an apartment building?

  2. 2 virescent January 28, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Mooser, do you find you change your approach to influencing people based on how close you are to them? For instance, I’m much more apt to bug the gentleman friend about things he could be recycling than my housemates, since I feel like I have more of an influence there.

  3. 3 virescent January 28, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Oh, and composting in apartments depends- if you have a balcony or some open-air space, you could build a regular bin or a worm bin and keep it outside. There are some indoor options- keep a bucket in the kitchen to dump in someone else’s compost pile, or try a NatureMill unit (I have one) that’s heated and speeds up composting so it doesn’t smell as funny. IMO, it smells enough still that one wouldn’t want to keep it inside, but it depends on what you put in there and how quickly you can get the process going, and how isolated you can keep the smell. Some people also put worm units inside, since they work more quickly than just piles. Just google vermiculture or vermicomposting.

  4. 4 Cameron January 29, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Blame it on S.A.D.!!! Motivation might come back with some warm sun and out door activity! If you are looking for more blog ideas, how about you tell me a better way to pre-recycle (is that the right term)! My house of 5 people goes through sooooo much recyling every week! It’s good that we are militant about recycling, but when you see the piles of stuff we produce a week, it makes me feel like we are just moving the waste problem to another level!!


    Clearly a slow day at work!

  5. 5 apteryx January 31, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Cameron, “pre-recycle” sometimes goes under the pseudonym “reduce”.

    Virescent, I don’t think this is a big deal. There are a number of ways I might look at it. (Please forgive my geek heritage, you know where I studied.)

    Think about the Law of Compromise: G(V|GF) + G(GF|V) = G(V) + G(GF), where G(f) is the Green Function. Total Greenness may be preserved if G(V) and G(GF) approach one another, as they would tend to do under the same roof.

    Calculus and the Law of Diminishing Returns can also come into play. I’m a 98% veggie. What’s in that 2%? Whale, among other things. I will eat almost anything if it’s the respectful thing to do. Eating more whale needn’t earn more respect, even though it may well lead to less greenness. So, compromising may have a disproportionally greater impact on quality of life than on quality of the environment.

    Ask why being “green” is important to you. To me, it’s a means to an end. So too are relationships. And, for me, it’s the same kind of end – just different people. Add to this, that the road to saving the world is best started by saving yourself and your closest. This is really the biggest one for me.

    There, some philosophical cud to chew on.

  6. 6 virescent February 3, 2009 at 3:45 am

    1) What does whale taste like? I’m imagining duck but saltier.

    2) I generally like the balance I’m striking, but I think my compromise function is more based on laziness than I’d like it to be. Picking at my decisions here helps keep me honest- so does bugging the GF to recycle, actually, can’t do it cheerfully if I forget to. The GF and I definitely have different points of compromise, and we usually reconcile them.

    Is there any way, with all of us having these different comfort zones, to get a clear picture of what environmental concern acts like? How successful have you been working with other people at different points? I find that, since I am far from perfect myself, a little encouragement and some general background is all I can give honestly. Then sometimes I brag about my garden. I feel like people- the GF, my parents, friends- are more comfortable and tend to go further when I praise what they have done on their own than when I mention stuff they could do.

    So the cud I’m chewing is how we can all have our things- mine might be wanting to fly to various far-off lands just for fun, oh the carbon, augh- and still be role models, or at least instigators for green behavior.

  7. 7 apteryx February 4, 2009 at 1:54 am

    I’ve only ever had duck cooked. The whale was not. Chewy and fatty, and dipped in pungent seal oil. Alas, that’s all I remember. ‘Twas a while back.

    Yeah, I like to fly too. My background state is pretty low impact, though, so I simply hope that things aren’t too bad. I don’t think role models need to be “perfect”. They need to be human.

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