Triumph of the Weeds


In The Beginning
September 19, 2008, 8:40 pm
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My parents are Baby Boomers, but, as far as I know, they were never “granola crunchy hippie” types. They did, however, incorporate several practices into their lifestyle that are today seen as “green.” My parents always emphasized frugality and living below one’s means. Part of that frugality manifested as energy consciousness; when I was little, I remember the constant scolding whenever I left a room with the lights on, left the door to the house open when the heat or AC was on, left the water running when I wasn’t using it, or wanted the heat turned up in the winter (my parents kept the house at 55 on winter nights). We always bought the cars with the best mileage possible and, when I learned to drive, my parents taught me what are known today as hypermiling techniques. We shopped at thrift stores and garage sales, particularly when I was very little. We always reused and re-purposed (and recycled, when that came in vogue) old possessions, and then tried to donate them if we couldn’t. My mom shopped at farm stands and bought fresh off the boat seafood when ever she could; she avoided highly processed foods and used herbs and sometimes vegetables from her kitchen garden. For the most part, however, we had the same habits, shopped in the same stores, used the same products, and made the same choices as the majority of other middle class families in America. We never questioned these choices which were rarely based on environmental values; even our emphasis on frugality was more about saving money than conserving resources.

Striking out on my own, I, by and large, adopted that same lifestyle. I was actually a bit worse, because I rejected several of the green practices that my parents did teach me. I hate cooking and shopping so I opted for packaged meals rather making my own and I spent as little time as I could thinking about the items that I bought. I left the lights on and the water running occasionally for convenience and kept the heat at a more hospitable temperature in the winter. Of course, I was concerned about the laundry list of problems I had learned about in school like global warming, overpopulation, resource depletion, waste accumulation, extinctions and habitat degradation, and poverty and hunger in the Third World. But, as I said above, I hate cooking and shopping. I had little interest in gardening. My grandmother taught me to knit, but I resisted learning too much about handicrafts, seeing them as an attempt to pigeon hole me in the traditionally girlly domestic sphere. I never learned much about building things or other traditionally masculine crafts either. All in all, I was so involved in my studies, work, and various hobbies to have much time for anything else. While I was concerned about the environmental crisis that the world faces and felt an underlying discontentment with the live I was living, I had no inclination, nor the knowledge or skills to do anything about it.

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[…] In The Beginning […]

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