The first quarter of this year-long challenge was defined by a pervading sense of fear and anxiety about whether or not I could actually pull it off. As more and more people kept asking me things like, “How are you going to think of 365 things?”, “Have you planned this out?” and “Are you OK?”, I got more and more panicky.
Now that I’m a third of the way in, I’d say the fear has subsided and been replaced with weariness. It’s not that I feel secure about succeeding in this, because there is a serious chance I won’t, but there are so many days when the last thing I want to be doing is sitting in front of my computer wondering what my 124th green change will be. My mother tells me that I smell, my hair looks like crap and I’ll never get a boyfriend. I’m not really concerned because she’s already spent years trying to coax me out of ill-fitting jeans and into pretty dresses to no avail. But I have to admit, some of these changes are making me more stressed and irritable and the gaggle of zits on my forehead, which have somehow attained permanent-resident status, don’t help.
Interestingly, the no-fridge thing hasn’t been nearly as big a problem as I thought it would (although when I stopped by my parents’ house recently to raid their tool kit, I suddenly found myself raiding their fridge instead, gorging on their tub of cold, cold yogurt as my lactase enzyme danced with joy). It’s often the little things that bug me, like remembering to save used water for my plants, asking every cashier if they have to print out a receipt, and if they do, whether or not they can recycle it. Or there are the times when I do something stupid like refill my bottle of laundry detergent before a shopping trip with my sister, which in that case meant I had to carry it around with me into every store (on the bright side, it was a great conversation starter).
It’s these niggly things that are truly getting to me. Everyone was shocked to hear that I actually sold my car, but to be honest, I love being able to bike to work in the morning and get some sun and exercise, or take the subway and read my book, instead of sitting in traffic on the highway getting road rage and listening to inane talk radio. Even hand-washing my dishes has been an easy, relaxing experience.
This is what I’m realizing is important: We should all be taking baby steps towards greener living, but sometimes it’s the biggest things that are the easiest to give up. I’d rather toss out a few receipts and not have a car than recycle them all and drive everywhere; I’d rather drink an Australian shiraz and keep my fridge unplugged than restrict myself to Ontario plonk and have cold food. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. We’re brought up to place great value in things like cars, fridges and dishwashers, yet these really aren’t as necessary as they seem.
I’m late for my second meeting with Bruce in the lumber department at Home Depot (keep reading next week to see what that’s all about), so that’s it for the recap. I hope it wasn’t too depressing — I promise my mood will be a lighter shade of green once I’m on vacation!