27 October, 2008

Accidentally Green

A lot of people use a lot of things as a measure of personal superiority. Being "greener than thou" is definitely one of these measures.

What you see here are (click on image above for full view) my current estimated personal environmental footprint and (click on image below for full view) my footprint at this time, one year ago. Now, instinct may lead to congratulations for cutting my eco-impact by over two thirds. Hell, in some circles it'd make me eligible for Green Living Poster Child. But that would be a lie. You see, I have become accidentally green.

Until January 2008, as many know, I shared a condo outside Washington, D.C., commuted two hours round-trip every day, drove out to the country nearly every weekend for hikes or markets, used central air and heat, grew no food, bought clothes, shoes, books, and other household items as I liked, and, due to involvement in a trans-world relationship, I undertook over 60 hours of jet travel.

Since the big move to Oz, things have definitely changed. We have a house that's roughly the same size as my old condo, I have no car, I go very few places at all, most produce and meat in stores is locally produced and there are small fruit & veg shops on nearly every corner. We buy next to nothing, recycling is readily available and well utilized, we're growing probably 70% of our produce (though we won't harvest for a few more months), and we have zero plans for major travel for at least another year.

Still want to give a pat on the back? Okay, sure. Give a hug, even. But then ask why. Why is my lifestyle so very different now? Was there a conscious choice involved?


I have no car because the one we bought died and we haven't the dough to replace it. I love driving! I could hardly imagine giving that up willingly. I'd nearly kill to have central air and heat once more, though I would be happy to power those with a solar array, but all this house has are three window units and a gas heater, so that's what we use. We go nowhere and buy nothing due to that same lack of cash and my current position as housewife-extraordinaire instead of bad-ass office-jockey. And, well, Australia just has better recycling programs than my old neighborhood. True, we did decide to grow our veggie patch, but had I the space in my old condo I'd have gardened there too. Though, all things equalled, we would dine out a fair bit more than we do (never) now, if the cash flow were prime.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling above the electricity-guzzling, water-wasting, carbon-spewing masses...ask yourself, how much of your Green is accidental? How much of their footprint is beyond their control?

Be green. Better still, be kind.


RazorFamilyFarms.com said...

This is excellent, Kelly!

I love how you point out the differences between Washington's recycling programs and Oz. Recycling is not readily available in most of America. We are so behind other countries in that (and in a long list of other areas).


Kelly the City Mouse said...

It's sadly true. Recycling, green-rubbish pickup, and separate trash pick-up are the norm here. Many "greener" things are normal here, HOWEVER! Australia is the highest per-capita polluter in the world. It just winds up looking good because there are only 20 million people for the whole continent. So it's all relative.