Posted in Musings

Only An Environmentalist?

Another morning spent binge-watching YouTube led me to this post. I came across (or rather, was led/coerced by cyber giants to watch) one of those posts about zero waste generation. A woman explained how she had taken on the challenge and was currently in her 11th month with only a tiny jar of stickers and paper strands to show of her garbage footprint. You may find her blog A Dream Lived Greener here.

Something she mentioned in the video, about how she was trying to align her values with her actions, struck me. I’m someone who finds herself constantly at odds with myself for this very reason.

I grew up in a village in Kerala, surrounded by trees and plants, with one of my earliest after-school chores being watering all our potted plants every day. My father has a small tropical plant nursery that serves as a source of auxiliary income. My favourite childhood superhero was Captain Planet. So all in all, it’s not a wonder that I grew up to think of myself as an environmentalist. But sometimes I worry that what I am is nothing more than the most literal sense of that word – an environmentalist. I think about the environment. But do I do anything about it? Do I even attempt to?

Of course, I try to do my bit. I learnt how to make dustbin liners out of old newspapers and use those at home. I carry steel cutlery with me. I switched to menstrual cups. I stash carry bags in every purse and case so that I can refuse new ones offered by grocery stores and street vendors. I use Ecosia for browsing.

But sometimes I forget to make the liners. Or forget the cloth bag at home. Or accept the plastic straw when offered. And every time I do, I feel like a hypocrite, and guilty.

There are two main reasons why I end up feeling this way. One is obviously my own fault – I am not always ready for the commitment it takes to align myself with my values, like she mentions. And secondly it’s easy to go with the flow. It’s so, so difficult to do what you want to do when others, ranging from close friends to shop owners to the government, do not seem to give ANY thought to this. Feeling like the only person who seems to worry about littering and plastics can be quite depressing and demotivating. Especially when you know you tend to falter too, and hence lack the authority to advise others, maybe?

All I know is I’m not accustomed to the bemused glances I receive and I’m certainly too self-conscious to whip out steel straws when ordering fruit juices with friends. I do not want people thinking of me as the weird one.

But I suppose all I can do is stick to what I can, and perhaps increase it incrementally. Perhaps I get to inspire at least a few of my friends along the way. Perhaps at least some of them would stop laughing at me. Perhaps it would stop being a struggle at some point.

And perhaps some day, I would finally be the normal kind and the others would be the weird ones.


A wayward thinker hiding behind the facade of necessary courtesies

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