I've been meaning to address this for over a month---in fact, ever since greg commented that I should be riding my bike, not riding in my car to an indoor spin-bike workout---and am finally getting to it. tardily. but some things are difficult to think through and incorporate (take into the body), and this is one of them.
recently I read a book title cradle to cradle, by a chemist-and-architect writing duo. the proposals laid forth in this book regard re-envisioning the way we do . . . well . . . just about everything. how we design machines and consumer goods and packaging, how we live, how we travel, how we design our lives. the book challenges the way we think about what we do, and it significantly challenges the status quo.
the authors suggest that we stop going along with "the way things have always been done," and re-think things from the ground up. from the cradle . . . creating items---homes---businesses---methods---that are well-designed enough that when we're 'done' with them they can be reformed into something else . . . returning to the cradle again.
this means instead of just designing a plastic bottle that can be recycled into something less, we design a plastic bottle that will decompose back into the soil, releasing seeds that will grow into a plant. or that we design manufacturing processes that instead of creating byproducts that are biohazards, create byproducts that benefit the environment.
it takes a wide open mind, it takes removal of all the walls and boxes within which we often think and live.
the authors suggest it's possible.
and by tackling these projects, ideas, goods, methods, systems, we can create a place where what we do/eat/recycle/throw away/make is actually good and of benefit to the environment, instead of what we now have, which is a place where we who try to be good are really only being less bad.
it's not a good feeling to know that you are being only a better version of bad.
we are incredibly wasteful as a society, and I try to be an efficient, thoughtful consumer: I arrange errands in groups so to minimize my driving, I recycle as many things as our city offers bins for, I am constantly turning unneeded lights off in my home, I try to water my lawn as little as necessary and consider water needs when choosing new plants, I always take reusable bags to the grocery store. I sometimes ride my bike for errands where I don't have to carry much. I collect fruit and vegetable peelings for compost. I don't like purchasing goods which are over-packaged, but I find it hard to completely avoid. and I am making such a teeny tiny dent in our consumption-based society that it probably doesn't even matter.
I am less bad than I could be.
as a society I'd like us to be less wasteful and more appreciative of what we have. I'd like to use less gas and create less pollution. I'd like a smaller carbon footprint. and I am by no means alone.
for those of us who feel caught in this giant system and unable to do much about it, we might just have to suffer through those feelings for a while longer, until more powerful people are willing to get on board and make a few changes. until then, I suppose I'll keep doing my little things while continuing to consider better ways to operate.
and I'll try to feel better about simply being a better version of bad.