Monday, October 27, 2008

Stale Coffee and the Choices we Make

Good morning. I woke up this morning to cold coffee. Somehow instead of the coffee maker starting it at 6am, it brewed many hours ago. Our machine shuts off its warmer after two hours so I have no idea when it was actually fresh. In my efforts not to waste food (or coffee beans and water in this case), I chose to pour myself a cup and stuck it in the microwave. Yuck.

But it kind of fits in with what I wanted to talk about this morning - choices. I've come to realize that being green, or taking care of this creation that I feel called to help to take care of - really involves a bunch of little choices every day. I can make huge, sweeping commitments to things like energy conservation, not wasting food, supporting local agriculture, line drying my laundry... but those commitments don't always translate well into the realities of my day to day life.

There are limitations - time constraints that don't always allow me to walk or ride my bike. Financial constraints that have me choosing cheap non-local pumpkins to carve instead of buying them for $9/piece from the farmer's market. Relationship constraints that have me not overriding my husband's choice to turn on the heat when I think we can all just put on one more sweater.

These choices aren't made without consideration, however. Take the pumpkins. I went to the farmer's market with a specific amount of money. I intended to buy food to eat and pumpkins to carve. But when I saw the price of the pumpkins, I needed to make a choice. Spend almost half of my money on pumpkins or spend most of my money on healthy, local foods for my family to eat and save a few bucks for some pumpkins at the cheap produce store. In the end, I chose to spend the money I had set aside for the farmer's market on food to eat. The farmers were still supported.

Now, I know there is another choice that could be made here. I could choose not to buy pumpkins at all. But, I promised my six year old we would carve pumpkins this year. We never got around to it last year, and he remembers how disappointed he was. So, now I've got the relationship limitations to think about. That doesn't sound too great - describing my six year old as a relationship limitation to being green, but it's the truth. But, while I believe that taking care of this earth is exceedingly important, I do not place my commitment to doing so over my commitment to my relationships. So, ya, I'm limited by those relationships, but I'm okay with it.

My children, my husband, my family, my friends - they cannot come second to my environmental mission or I'm working in vain. I think it's important to teach my children good environmental habits. We don't go to fast food restaurants at all anymore and telling them that we aren't going and explaining why we're not going will not harm my relationship with them. But promising to carve pumpkins and then breaking that promise to "save the world" would harm my relationship with my son.

See what I'm talking about with the choices? For each of us, those types of choices to put relationships or financial needs over our environmental commitment will be different. But it will need to be done from time to time, and we need to be okay with that. Make the right choice and then don't feel guilty, because it is the right choice. There is nothing to feel guilty about.

If you're nearby this afternoon stop by my house. We'll be carving cheap pumpkins. I'll heat you up a cup of stale coffee if you want.

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jmisgro said...

I know just what you mean. I was cooking dinner and got distracted and burned the onions, peppers and ground beef a little. OK, what to do? I did not have anymore peppers so if I threw it out into the compost and start again I would be missing the peppers. I would also be out a pound of meat. So I decided to finish the dish and we would just eat it anyway. It turned out fine. The crunchy meat was ok.
Sometimes you have to make choices and hope for the best. If everyone were trying to make "greener" choices we all would be better off!

Robin Shreeves said...

Crunchy meat would drive my nine year old insane, but I'd do the same as you did.

shihtzustaff said...

Of the green blogs I read yours is the most realistic. You illustrate how being green is not black and white and that there are decisions you make that may not be green but realistic. Thank you for the breath of fresh air.

Robin Shreeves said...

shihtzustaff - You're welcome