Can I ever go back?

Walking around the fair today, I was repeatedly reminded of my eco-conscience.

I drank bottled water and wished I had thought to bring my reusable stainless steel bottle.  I didn’t want to use the plastic, but it was hot and I was thirsty.  Plus I’m still trying to skip HFCS (that’s another story), so I didn’t want to get a soda in a paper cup.  I was happy at least that recycling was easy.

I spotted all the litter on the ground and wanted to pick it up (but of course I didn’t).  I wondered how much litter and trash would be generated by the end of the fair and where it would go.

I watched the tractor pull and thought about carbon emissions.  I thought about how much energy went into pulling that sled of weights back and forth.  But I was still proud of my brother for pulling about 8,000lbs with his tractor.

I pondered, while skipping the line to the ladies’ room and heading to the portapotty, which is better for the environment? The portapotty uses less water but more chemicals, so I couldn’t decide which was better, but there wasn’t a line there.  I worried about creating a super-bug as I used the hand sanitizer, but didn’t want to skip it either.

I browsed through dresses at a vendor’s tent and commented that they’re probably made in sweatshops.  How else could they be so cheap?

I watched the horse pull and felt bad for the jumpy horses, getting yelled at and slapped on the butt.  My dad has always said that competitive pulling is cruel to the horses and I would tend to agree, but I still like to watch for a little while and check out the pretty animals.

I saw a lot of parents smoking around their kids and wondered what they were thinking.  It’s not BPA people, it’s not debatable or new science.  Cigarettes kill.

I looked at agricultural exhibits, animals, food preservation, crafts, photography, and the baking competition.  This glimpse of a simpler way of life was juxtaposed with the midway’s spinning rides and shouting carnies.  I wish the midway wasn’t there, but felt a sadness knowing that most people wouldn’t go if there weren’t rides and cheap prizes to win.

When I got home, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could ever go back.  Go back to the way things used to be, when I could enjoy an event without the stream of eco-consciousness running through the back of my mind.  Although I didn’t make all of the best eco-choices while I was there, I was keenly aware of what I was choosing to do: throw out paper plates and napkins, recycle water bottles, and take breaths of second-hand smoke simply because I couldn’t get away from it. 

I realize of course that I can never go back.  I can never un-learn what I know about the environment and how my everyday actions impact the earth.  With that knowledge comes a responsibility to act, to make good choices.  And I feel like I do make good choices most of the time, but I need to accept that I can’t choose the best option all of the time and I can’t be so hard on myself, or on others.


Filed under Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living

13 responses to “Can I ever go back?

  1. No, you can’t really ever go back. I’ll occasionally nibble on a banana or buy some freshly ground peanut butter. But knowing I can eat locally and be happy and healthy, while helping the environment and my local economy at the same time, those splurges are few are far between. Besides, this life just feels right, doesn’t it? Even when it does take a bit more effort… 🙂

  2. So true! There is no going back. Our eyes are open and we can not close them. It’s kind of like that guy in the Matrix – the bad guy who, after he’d been helping the good side for a while, sold out the good guys for a chance to go back to the life of ignorance. Ignorance really is bliss. But it’s no way to live.

  3. That is one of the best posts about the vulnerability of knowledge and action I have read. Naivety is bliss.

    I would argue you could go back. Each new bottle of water would slowly erode your guilt, each puff of unfiltered smoke would further cloud your memory.

  4. I don’t think you can go back. I have had the same experience – seeing things that I used to take for granted with new eyes. For example, today we went to a fall fair at our local college. The power company was there, encouraging people to save the earth and use less power. And to reward the children they were giving out inflatable bam bam sticks.

    The package claims that they’re bio-degradable, but still. How can handing out free plastic (or PLA) toys be good for the planet?

    It’s my hope that more people start seeing through these eyes, and then maybe we can create some real change.

  5. Its hard now, because I want everyone to see the things that I see. I want to shake everyone and tell them to wake up and see what they’re doing. Instead I plod along doing what I can to be eco conscious. I just hope that one of these days I won’t be the odd one and more people will stop.

    We were going to go to the Big E this week, maybe I’ll rethink that. Trash everywhere and I’m not sure I can even bring my own water bottles in.

  6. WOW. You just put into words the feelings that have been in my head for a few years now. Very well written, thank you.

    Could I republish this post, with all proper linkage back here, on my blog?

  7. Ali

    I struggle with many of the same thought every day, but have never articulated them as well as you have. BTW, I have enjoyed looking through your blog tonight, I came here via Jimmy Cracked Corn’s report of this post.

  8. I feel this way often at public events. Good and sucks at the same time.

  9. Thanks for writing this. I enjoyed the fair this year because it was the first time my parents, my younger sister (with her daughter), and I went as a family. I got picked on the whole day because I wasn’t sure which thing was the “best” thing to eat. I worried about the animals. I went through the smaller of the two varied industries buildings and kept wondering who would buy all this crap, but people were. Glad I’m not the only one who freaked out at the fair this year 😉

  10. Samantha Richardson

    i feel the same way. daily. well-said. 🙂

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