Um, actually, he WON’T be having the Chilean sea bass, THANKS (Day 328)…

ian at moma

This is one of my bestest friends, Ian. He works in policy for the provincial government’s e-health program, likes ironic meditation and isn’t too bad in the kitchen. We’ve known each other for 15 years, so there’s no need for politesse when we hang out together — it’s all bluntness, all the time.

Some of you may remember my recent jaunt to New York — well, Ian came with me on that trip, and it was probably the first time he’s seen my green lifestyle up close. He made fun of my myrrh-based mouthwash, put up with my grumbling about how ugly bangs get without proper blow drying and indulged in my fanatical shopping sprees at every local design store in Brooklyn (I, in turn, put up with him checking his luggage).

Anyway, while we were in Greenwich, we went to this amazing restaurant called Sushi Samba. There was so much to choose from on the menu and we were on a roll — every bite was followed by simultaneous looks at one another of, “Oh my god, are you tasting what I’m tasting? Because I’m tasting something between heaven and ambrosia.”

But in the midst of our ordering frenzy, I heard the waiter suggest the Chilean sea bass, then heard Ian agree to this, and just couldn’t let it happen. I interrupted, explained why this was not cool (it’s practically endangered, to say the least), and he agreed to order something else.

Yes, we were eating lots of other fish, and I didn’t have my SeaChoice list of which ones were good, bad or mediocre in terms of sustainability, but for whatever reason I got my back up about the sea bass (technically called a Patagonia toothfish, which sounds far less appetizing, no?).

This is something that happens a lot in my life now: People around me do something bad for the environment, and I have to decide whether to point it out or let it slide. Part of me doesn’t want to impose my judgment on others, but another part wants to create a gentle ripple effect and spread my newfound green knowledge. I mean, on the one hand, speaking out for Mother Nature is an integral part of being an environmentalist, but on the other hand, self-righteous hippies are annoying.

Ian said afterwards that he thought I handled the situation appropriately — I didn’t create a fuss, I didn’t lecture him about anything else he was ordering, I simply stated my case for why a certain dish on the menu upset me, let him make the final decision and that was that.

In the long run, I think such things will have to be determined on a case-by-case basis. If the person next to me drops a Styrofoam container of leftover factory-farm meat on the sidewalk, you bet I’m going to say something. But if someone standing in front of me at the coffee shop doesn’t have a reusable thermos like I do, I might not.

However, that’s the long run. For now, I’m letting everyone know about all the things I’ve learned doing this challenge. Getting other people to be green in ways I can’t was one change, but this is about didactics — teaching, sharing and initiating dialogue whenever possible, whether it’s with a friend at a sushi restaurant or a colleague at the cafeteria.

15 Responses to Um, actually, he WON’T be having the Chilean sea bass, THANKS (Day 328)…

  1. Isle Dance says:

    It’s great fun to make decisions for myself while sharing why something’s important to me. I try to follow it up with questions, in case the other person has some insight on the issue. Love that interaction opportunity!

  2. emily says:

    Confession: I witnessed major eco-nasty behavior recently and said nothing. I was in Melbourne for an academic conference, staying in a college dorm with other academics. They had a big sign in the (communal) bathroom about water conservation–parts of Australia being in a major draught. But twice I saw an older male professor let the water run: once while shaving, and once while brushing his teeth. I was burning to say something but felt like a mouse, screaming at a monster about to eat me (I’m a lowly grad student). The first time around, I fled in perplexity. The second time, I looked at the faucet, glared at him, looked at the faucet, glared… till he got the hint and turned it off.

    I’m kicking myself. Bad girl, bad…

  3. pat farquharson says:

    MMmmm, there are none more strident than the newly converted. Be careful. Be gentle. ‘isle dance’ has it right.

  4. lauren says:

    What to you all think about smokers dropping their cigarette butts in the street? It drives me absolutely crazy, and I have come so close recently to saying something to people. Like pointing out 2 metres a way there is a perfectly good bin they could use. Often this happens at the bus stop, and they throw it down in front of me, and it continues to burn and blow smoke into my face. I considered throwing down a bigger piece of rubbish trying to see if someone would tell me off, and then pointing out that the smoker shouldn’t be allowed to do it either, and then picking up his cigarette with my piece of rubbish, and depositing it in the bin. I’ve also considered putting up a poster at my bus stop asking people to consider their actions. I’m living in Italy at the moment, and don’t remember what it’s like in an English speaking country. Is it as bad in Canada? I actually sneakily pick up cigarette butts with spare bits of paper from my bag, when no ones looking. My boyfriend would be mortified if he found out!

  5. Matt says:

    I can clearly picture Ian calmly mulling over your sea bass warning, pausing to reflect, then ordering something else. Classic.

    Anyway, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but eating in a sushi restaurant at all probably isn’t such a hot idea. While I love, love raw slabs of fatty tuna, sea bass and other underwater delights, I can’t help but feel a touch guilty when I’m supporting an industry that’s single handedly wiping out the bluefin, among many other species.

    Ah, but who am I to comment…

  6. Hellcat13 says:

    I share the Sigg bottle love to everyone I meet who even glances at it…and buy them for friends and family to force my no-plastic-water-bottles stand on others.

    I was at an Editors’ Association of Canada conference yesterday and was discouraged at the plastic bottles on offer. The hotel offered pitchers of ice water and glasses on the table, but about 75% of the participants grabbed the bottled water instead. I made a quiet point of refilling my Sigg from the pitcher on the table – but this is a good one, Thistle. It’s hard to be brave enough to take a stand, sometimes (as others above attest to).

  7. Hellcat13 says:

    PS – LOVE Ian’s glasses. Props.

  8. arduous says:

    Like you said it’s a fine line, that I honestly never know if I’m on the right side of. I try not to talk too much about it because who wants to hang out with Judgey McJudgerpants, but it’s hard because I’m inclined to talk about what I myself am doing, and even if you don’t even say anything about other people’s actions, they can become defensive. So I’m just trying to be careful and make sure I’m on the cool and un-judgey side of the line.

  9. gettinggreen says:

    BAHAHAHA, Judgey McJudgermpants!! Too much. I love it.

    Hellcat, I’m totally with you on the Sigg bottle — so many people comment on mine (maybe ’cause it’s bright red or something?) and I love the chance to go on about how water tastes so much better in stainless steel than a Nalgene. Then I usually slip in a friendly comment about how I just CAN’T handle water in plastic bottles and it’s such a rip-off anyway.

    And Matt, I tried to order as much veggie sushi as possible… though I think I got some crab in there. I’m trying to cut back on the tuna, though, for sure. Hey wait — aren’t you all about the foie gras, anyway? Yeesh!

  10. Carreen says:

    Hellcat13 – When you go to those conferences, here’s what I do when they offer bottled water… I will always make a comment on the conference survey.

    I’ve been on both sides of educational conferences – planning and attending – many times. They actually do look at the results of those surveys that they ask you to fill out and are looking for EASY ways to change their conferences for the better.

    Most conferences are held at hotels and the group hosting the conference is pretty much forced to use the hotel catering for the food/drink. The hotels charge OUTRAGEOUS prices for catering. (I remember one conference where Orange Juice was at a rate of $20/gallon.) So, if I had ever had the suggestion that people would rather have pitchers of cold, iced tap water rather than outrageously priced individual bottles of water we would be all over that!!!

    So, make the comment and talk to a few other like minded individuals, maybe they’ll put it on their surveys too. It can make a difference.

  11. Hellcat13 says:

    Thanks Carreen – awesome advice! It’s a two-parter, so I’ll be sure to do that at our second session in February.

  12. Clare says:

    Ooh. Is he single?

    Okay, I’m not–but I couldn’t resist! (I think it’s the glasses…)

    I’m pretty bad with explaining my green actions and convincing other people to take their own. I hate confrontation and arguments, and get really flustered. And then I feel guilty that I’m not doing more to convince others. Sigh…

  13. Matt says:

    Yes, there is guilt there too (a bit) but last time I checked geese and ducks weren’t endangered.. 🙂

    I tried to quit, I really did. But I caved hard. Until France bans the shit in public places I’ll be eating it whenever possible.

    On that note, you should see the clusters of Parisians pulling on their cloppes in the cold these days. The cigarette ban is actually working very well.. obligatory site relevance: less butts to clog up those landfills.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    thought this was perfect…i too battle with the whole should i say something or not complex….especially in the moments when i’m back home in rural areas….saying something is a little more acceptable in the city….

  15. Chippert says:

    Would this then put you into the category of people who feel the need to tell YOU all the green things THEY are doing? Does the Thistle want a pat on the back and a gold star?

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