Ecocentricity Blog: Pride vs. Guilt
The way I see it, my wife and I have two options. The first one is to feel proud of ourselves for doing a good thing. Alternatively, we can feel guilty for having taken so long to do it. We’re going with the first option.
Curious what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, we’ll get there. For a moment though, just consider how this dichotomy between pride and guilt can be applied to a range of environmental practices.Plenty of people have become vegetarian or vegan because of the lighter environmental footprint associated with that diet. Should they feel proud of the decision or guilty for not making it sooner? What about those folks who have started recycling at home? Or those who keep reusable grocery bags in their cars? Or those who actually remember to bring those reusable grocery bags into the store with them? How about those people who have installed solar panels on their rooftop? Or those who now drive an electric vehicle? Some folks opt to bike to work and forego an automobile entirely. How should they feel? Some people pull every weed by hand instead of spraying chemicals on their yard. Others carry bamboo utensils with them at all times so that they don’t have to use disposable plastic ones. I have some friends who have developed the habit of saying “no straw” when ordering a drink at a restaurant because they don’t want a plastic straw automatically stuck in their glass. Perhaps you’ve started shopping at your local farmers market weekly. Maybe you’ve replaced your incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs. You might have started paying a bit extra for the organic strawberries instead of the regular ones. How should you feel? To all of these questions, I answer, “feel proud!” No one makes us choose to be better stewards of the environment. We own that decision, and whenever it is made, it is a good thing. I’m in the business of celebrating good, not using it to make people feel guilty. So, is the decision that my wife and I made contained in that laundry list above? Nope (though I am proud to claim some of those environmental practices). Our decision was to begin composting at home. We bought a large, dual-chamber tumbler for our backyard, conveniently placed near our back steps. Every other day or so, we bring a container down from the kitchen that we’ve filled up with food scraps. We add in cardboard, paper towels and shredded paper to keep the nutrient balance stable (I’m still getting a feel for what that balance point is), and then we spin the container around. It’s been amazing to watch nature do her thing in our composter. Bacteria, those tiny life forms, are perfectly happy in that home, chomping away at our scraps and leftovers. Our waste is their food, and they repay our patience and dedication with beautiful, black soil. Not only are we proud to be composting, it’s been more enjoyable than I imagined. How about you? Are there any environmental practices you recently adopted? Any that you’re thinking about trying out? I’d love to see them in the comments. Regardless, for all that you do to help our planet, I hope you feel immense pride in yourself!