I’ve been an environmentalist since I was seven. I wrote the government asking what they were doing to stop acid rain. They sent me some brochures I couldn’t understand and a button that said, “STOP ACID RAIN”. I think the button hooked me. Ever since then, I’ve been an advocate for the environment.
As a teenager, I re-used my brown paper lunch bag. Something felt so wrong about throwing away a crisp new bag each day. There was no recycling in schools back then, so I felt bad about the pop cans that I tossed. A friend and I went door to door to canvas for waste paper so that we could aggregate it and take it to one of the very few recycling facilities. In the late 80s, environmentalism was all the rage. I embraced the green wagon, but was sad when it faded away as just another trend, it’s only impression being some trees planted on Earth Day.
For awhile, I stopped caring as the apathy of others disheartened me. Rather ironic. One day, it dawned on me that if I didn’t care, no one else would care. So, I re-embraced my greenness. I carried reusable bags when it was completely unacceptable and actually was not allowed to leave a store without taking a bag for “security reasons”. In university, I volunteered for the school’s recycling program and hauled blue bins of smelly recyclables across the campus. I even washed my milk bags for reuse.
After I graduated, I set up an apartment premier-pharmacy.com worm composter, commuted by public transit, bicycle and walking for 12 years, shopped for organic food at dingy granola health food stores (no Whole Foods back then), gave up photography (too many nasty chemicals), worked at World Wildlife Fund for 1/2 my previous salary, ate mostly vegan meals, used hand-me-down furniture, washed dishes by hand (turning the tap on only to rinse) and donated to environmental charities.
In the past few years, I’ve softened my stance so as not to live like a pauper. However, most of my old habits are still in place. My previous landlady remarked that I lived “very modestly.” Now, it’s all about the organic rubber mattress, the Community Supported Agriculture (shopping locally and in season), setting the AC for 80 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping a watering can in the bathroom to capture the water when you turn on the tap to take a shower, etc.
My point is that when you think you’ve gone green, there is always more you can do. However, a sustainable life doesn’t mean you have to live like you’re destitute. Where’s the enjoyment in that? And, not too many people are going to want to join you. That’s where the true green power is–in numbers.
So it seems fitting that now is the time to look at my cat and see how his life can be greener. If you have a pet, I invite you to join me in discovering how you can reduce your pet’s carbon footprint.