Sunday, September 16, 2007

How Green Was My Conscience

So we bought a car last week. Between an air compressor that went kaflooey and a variety of hoses that were gnawed apart by small woodland creatures, our trusty sedan had just exceeded our age-to-upkeep-expense ratio. (Okay, it's not an exact number; it's more a general sense of how much money we wanted to sink into maintaining an elderly vehicle.)

The new car is a hybrid. For a while I thought pretty highly of ourselves for purchasing a car that minimizes our carbon footprint. I envisioned a halo shining above us as we tooled down the road, spewing fewer emissions than all those SUVs towering over us.

Now, however, I am inclined to think that the purchase is mere ego-stroking. Considering all the resources that went into producing the car, does it really matter all that much that it causes less pollution to drive? In the battle against global warming, it feels as if my buying a hybrid car is the equivalent of hanging a "We Support Our Environment" banner outside my house.

It makes me wonder if all my attempts to be green are also merely chump change. I try to do my part, but the efforts seem paltry: using cloth bags at the grocery store (when I can remember to bring them), cloth napkins instead of paper ones, "green" cleaning products, fluorescent light bulbs, Sigg water bottles .... All good things, yes, but if I were committed to the cause, shouldn't I push for true sacrifice, for action that actually might hurt a bit? Like not using the air conditioner in the summer, and keeping the house at a cool temperature throughout the winter. Like not buying so much damn stuff all the time. Like choosing local produce and less packaged food.

Oh, I have terrific reasons for not doing all those things: You know, I get so HOT in the summer, and why should I be HOT? And my God I hate winter enough as it is, should I freeze my way through it as well? And we NEED all this stuff, honest. Fresh local veggies? Great, except I don't even LIKE vegetables.

Can you say "lame"? I knew you could.

I'm hoping that I can turn this self-loathing into something slightly more productive than a whiny blog post. I'm hoping that it will motivate me to do more, buy less, that sort of thing.

And in the meantime, those chipmunks had better stay far away from that environmentally friendly new engine.