I try to keep things relatively positive when I put things on the internet. This is in part because my life is pretty good by all accounts and doesn’t warrant too much complaining, but also because there is already enough negativity in cyberspace as it is. It occurred to me recently, though, that this isn’t just true of the internet, but increasingly of life in general, especially here in America. Our lives are full of garbage. Actually, I might even go so far as to say that life is garbage.
Now, before anyone flames me and tells me I can leave if I don’t like it, I should clarify a couple things. First among these is that I try not to worry about what I can’t control. Americans in 2017 might be a loud, willfully ignorant bunch, incapable of much empathy for people with view that differ from their own, but I can’t change that. I can be kind and open-minded in my corner of existence, but I won’t concern myself with attitudes I can’t change myself. Secondly, even if you eliminate these kinds of things–social problems I can’t control, that is–from the American landscape, America is still garbage. Without people–good or bad, doesn’t matter–our once beautiful country is a giant pile of the same trash that’s been sold to use as the American Dream:
Giant trucks and SUVs that get driven five miles roundtrip per day just to make you feel like a big man. Millions of square feet of closet space devoted to the hottest clothes from each season, worn but a few times because you had to buy new ones to stay fresh and trendy. Giant houses full to the brim with stuff that will never be able to fill the emptiness of a misguided heart. Oh, and don’t forget all the storage units that contain all the stuff that couldn’t fit in the houses. That’s a lot of garbage without even getting to landfills and all the random crap in there that will take much longer than we have left here to decompose. I used to watch Wall-E and hope we would never get to the point illustrated in that movie, but when I look around I wonder if we’re not already well on our way there!
I guess if anyone easily offended is reading this, they might still be thinking, if you don’t like it, leave. (Or, maybe, you can’t take my truck away!) But I don’t want to leave. I love being close to my family and friends, I have great neighbors, and I really enjoy my job, which is within easy biking distance. Perhaps it’s selfish and somewhat less than pragmatic, but I’d love for the space around me–my house, my neighborhood, my city–to reflect the full beauty it has the potential to possess. If I could I’d fashion a place with nothing extraneous or of poor quality just cluttering our lives. Instead of burying ourselves in the millions of disposable cups we use every day, people would sit down for a leisurely cup of coffee or tea with friends or a good book. Rather than wading through the new clothes bought every season, they’d buy a few, really well-made things that really suited them and would last a lifetime.
It’s a pipe-dream, I know. I can’t make any of that happen, which puts it snugly in the category of Things I Cannot Change and, by extension, Things I Will Not Worry About. Instead I’ll just have to focus my energy on my own slice of life, starting with my house, my cubicle and my car–the three places I find myself most often. I’ve been hoping to make this kind of change in my life for so long that I even made my 2017 New Year Resolution accordingly:
I resolve to reduce and, where possible, eliminate from my life any items that harm the environment and detract from the beauty of the space around me, whether through unsound construction or careless consumption.
(Yes, I know it’s a bit wordy, but it’s the most official resolution I’ve ever been able to muster!)
I hope to keep myself accountable by writing about my progress (or possible lack of progress) week by week. Step 1 for 2017 was to eliminate my use of disposable cups, a sure problem for anyone who occasionally buys a coffee from a major chain. While I try to limit my spending in coffee and tea in general (my love of a good home-made beverage is already pretty well-documented), I still do buy a few coffees at work every week. Sometimes the call to caffeine just can’t be ignored, but when it strikes, I’ll be answering it with my favorite purple mug and brilliant emerald tumbler. Just to be safe, I gave this lifestyle change a test run through the last two weeks of 2016 and found the change in effort pretty manageable, even the part where I had to clean out my mug within the hour to keep coffee from sticking to it or staining it. And aside from the relief going reusable gives my conscience, it’s even nicer to have coffee this way for aesthetic reasons. Why drink from a paper & plastic soppy cup when you can drink from a well-made vessel that actually keeps your coffee warm? The change is enough to make one feel like a real adult.
Anyway, that’s enough eco-hippy lecturing from me 🙂 Have a great week, stay beautiful, and post your comments below!