Home > Uncategorized > Feeling Down? This Won’t Help.

Feeling Down? This Won’t Help.

2010/06/30

I’ve been self-diagnosed with what I’m calling “End of the World Syndrome” (EWS). No, not that mandatory growing despair one feels when they’ve just finished school, have to find a job, pick another tiny apartment to lease, and a new set of goals to develop, but an unavoidable hopelessness that the world has become a sinking inflatable life raft that any amount of personal bailing out will not save.

As I grow and mature (and manage my own finances) I am becoming increasingly aware of the impact my actions and purchases have on my immediate and extended environment. I do my best to buy local, organic produce at farmer’s markets. I’m actively making an effort to buy recycled and used clothing. I am spending my summer scouring garage sales and back alleys for house wares. Even my nerdy-ness needs are being met by only buying used and pre-owned videogames. All my light bulbs are compact fluorescents. I only use green-certified cleaning products, and my soap, shampoo, and conditioner are essentially clumps of grass in bottles. It may sound like I’m bragging here, but I see these as inconsequential baby steps in a walk I fear may be longer than I’ll ever be able to walk: I still don’t grow my own food, I take long, hot showers, eat imported goods, buy lead-filled things from Dollarama, and have a stack of Styrofoam plates left over from a dinner party a few months ago. I’ve lately begun to feel guilty for owning ziplock bags and using paper towels.

The prime symptom of EWS is that it one’s efforts can never feel like enough. I have come to some firm conclusions in this regards: 1) Even if I stop purchasing anything and somehow manage to have literally zero or a positive impact of the environment, the world is going to end. 2) I do not possibly have the power to convince everyone on the planet to stop everything and just go frolic with the fawns or whatever regional fauna that they live near to. What with things happening around the world like oil spills, how do the happy-type greenies stay hopeful? Did I miss the vaccination for EWS when they were getting distributed?

The other force working against me is the fact that I’m not entirely convinced by the environmentalist critiques and solutions offered that I’ve come in contact with. Recently I considered joining Le Frigo Vert, an anarchist, organic, fair trade, student-run co-op here in Montreal as a way of alleviating EWS. Unfortunately, unless I want to subsist entirely on grains and beans and the occasional sprouted bean, it was not the place for me. Am I just being a privileged brat? The excellent short documentary, The Story of Stuff (www.thestoryofstuff.com) by Annie Leonard, confirmed my opinions on consumerism (including my own), lists several possibilities for change and argues we need to radically change how we produce and consume goods. I wholehearted agree, but her enthusiasm and positivity still cannot convince me that such a change is possible. Leonard groups people into two categories: those who are positive and hopeful about total environmental change and those who want to continue to exploit our world. Heck, even the oh-so-subtle film Avatar suggests we all fall into the same types. But what about those of us who look at the uphill fight as a Sisyphean endeavour?

Perhaps it’s just a case of me being too all or nothing about the whole thing, which is entirely possible. It’s not going to stop me from continuing to be as green as I know how, and learning new ways to do so, and I’ll keep looking for something to cure my bad case of the EWS, but at this rate I’m more likely to find a little cabin in the middle of the woods and live by eating the turnips I’ll (hopefully) find there.

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Categories: Uncategorized
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