It’s Not Easy Being Green

by on Aug.27, 2008, under environment, family, politics

As I sit here watching Bill Clinton and John Kerry talking about the problems of today and the direction we need to go moving forward, certain elements strike a chord.  Most of them relate to green – namely the environment and the economy – and they both relate to struggles I see in my own life.  As they speak about our role as a nation in steering the world towards a more Earth-friendly lifestyle, I think about my own efforts to be conscious of my ecological footprint.  Ans as they speak about the downturn in jobs and wages in our nation during Bush’s reign, I can’t help but think of my own past and present struggles.

Currently, I have a job that I like more than any I’ve had before and I make more money than I’ve ever earned before (which helps me enjoy my job as well).  And yet I still find myself living paycheck to paycheck and seeing my health benefits get more expensive and less effective.  I can’t say that I’m struggling with money, but it would be nice to feel like I was getting ahead rather than just keeping pace (and hoping I’m not falling behind).

My wife is currently a full-time stay-at-home mom to our 2 kids.  This was a conscious choice as (a) our kids are a lot happier in these younger pre-school years not being in daycare all day and (b) even if she did work, it would cost all of her salary to keep the kids in daycare.  So her working would only earn us lost time together as a family.  And now she is considering getting a job anyway so that we can be more financially comfortable, but that will likely mean a part-time job during hours that I can be home with the kids (nights and weekends) which means it will likely be a low-paying retail job.

I really do want to be more eco-friendly in my lifestyle, but to do so is not cheap (and as illustrated above, I’m not really in a position to opt for friendly over frugal).  I WANT to eat more organic foods.  I WANT to produce less waste (as in garbage).  I WANT to purchase goods that use less packaging and more recyclable materials.  I TRY to use less water, less electricity, less plastic and chemicals.  But the next steps seem to be the ones that will cost me more.  It is hard to justify buying organic juice when the grocery store has a buy-one-get-one-free sale on Juicy Juice.  It is hard to justify driving 2 to 3 times as far to go to a Whole Foods market and pay 50% more for the same amount of food when gas is around $3.50 a gallon (I HAVE been trying to coast more to save on gas – it actually works when driving manual).  It is hard to say it is worth being green if it means possibly going into the red.

I am not overly worried – I will soldier on and I am optimistic that I will find the balance.  But I hope that the declarations that I hear on my TV are not hollow.  I know there are people in this country who are worse off than I and they need these promises to bare fruit.  They need the economic stimulus that a $300 tax rebate ain’t delivering.  They need the growth of industry and the moderation of big business that is currently lacking more than I do.  But if those things come, I plan to use whatever windfall I may reap of it to achieve the greenness that currently seems so elusive.

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