When my husband came home and handed me a copy of No Impact Man, he said to me, “I think this is right up your alley.” My husband is a smart man.
Within three days, I had read the entire book, dog-earing at least 40 pages. I started calling people, lending out the book, just to share my crazy-fierce enthusiasm that I have for what I read, what I learned. If nothing else, it was glorious confirmation that I wasn’t the only person left in the world who cared. That you don’t have to go barefoot, stop shaving, and hug a tree every day to care about the environment. That being “green” is more than recycling. To me, it was all about personal accountability, no matter what the facts you choose to believe, your political platform, or your religious background. The impression I was left with, while reading No Impact Man, was that of one regular guy caring enough about the world in which he lives, the world he envisions for his baby girl, mattering enough to him that he try to do everything in his power to try to make his world a different, yet better place. Honestly, it made me feel like crap for every can or bottle I tossed out, thinking, “Just one more bottle isn’t going to make or break the environment.” Sheesh. What a schmuck I was.
Without getting on my soap box (for which I am renowned), I tried to put to words the sense of accountability I had when I read this book. Tried to rally the troops, tried to put a bug in the ear of folks who I felt would “get it.” Again. Schmuck city.
As a general rule, people don’t want to believe in themselves that they are part of any problem. It takes way more courage to ask someone not to throw away (or even buy) cases of plastic water bottles than to ask them to invest in some reusable jars. Turns out, my courage had limits. Also it turned out that I wasn’t even close to being the eco-friendly person I thought I was. Heck, it turned out that it wasn’t even about the stupid plastic bottle. It was about ME. What was I doing to make things better? I had to stop worrying about everyone else and start to concentrate on #1 (which works out so much better in the long-run, let me tell you what.)
Refocusing my energy back to myself, I started doing a few things. I stopped buying new whenever possible (and learned to do without, too), became friends with and visited local farmers, began recycling – even if it meant we left cans in the alley for the homeless to collect, recycle, and make a few bucks, started hemming, darning, patching, and sewing my linens and clothes, and even went so far as to make a commitment with GreenSpot, Columbus’s own place for learning about all things “green” and to strive to doing as much as you can, in your own home or business, with respect to the environment.
Some things are hard to give up, however, but that’s for another week. Until then, finish reading No Impact Man or, if you’ve already read it, lend your copy to a friend. Maybe it will spark a conversation. Just remember: it’s not about the other guy’s shortfalls. It’s about understanding and accepting our own personal level of accountability – what you’re ready and able to do toward making our world one in which you want to live. Don’t argue the semantics because it just doesn’t matter. Everyone knows that the way things are going now in the world can’t last forever. Picture what you want and ask yourself: what can I do to make it happen?
P.S. It has been my experience that sitting on my rear will get me to the answer about as fast as blaming everyone else for the problem. Action gets results!