I swear I recycle!!!

The other night Brendan and I had an odd interaction with the cashier at the grocery store.  I won’t go into all the detail of our conversation, but the guy made it pretty clear, through our conversation, that he thought we were conservative uncultured yuppies from the city.  WHAT!?  I tried to defend myself a bit when he questioned my request for a plastic bag, but there was little to say.  Yes, I use plastic bags for my garbage; that is why I asked you for one.  I realize they are made out of oil, yes.  What I wanted to say was… F U for saying anything to me right now.  You don’t know me. 

I was mad, but more than anything I was confused.  I spent the walk home from the grocery store trying to convince Brendan that I am indeed a liberal environmentally conscious consumer.  Brendan responded by agreeing (good boy), but mostly pointing out that not everyone can do everything right… and there is no way we are putting wet food waste in the paper bags! 

I was still thinking about it a few days later when I got coffee with my friend A.Jay.  We were talking about people we knew who were really genuine about who they were and what they cared about, and how refreshing that was because Berkeley is FULL of people that act like they care about everything and do everything possible for every problem… maybe it’s not quite that extreme, but you definitely get the vibe in Berkeley that you should be doing everything.  What, you don’t grow your own food?  You don’t buy everything from the farmer’s market?  You use laundry detergent with chemicals?  Your car uses gas?  and sometimes I’m like, whatever, I know you all drive cars, too…but sometimes it gets to me: I’m not perfect.  I could do better. 

It gets to me because I’m not perfect.  I do think that those are all worthy causes of my attention, time and resources, but I can’t be everything.  Do you have to be a perfect vegetarian to make a difference for the environment?  NO way.  Every time you choose not to buy conventional meat at the store you are voting with your dollars.  That vote counts.  Every. Single. Time.  And it isn’t undone when one day you need to buy something cheaper.  I’m not perfect. 

But I could do better, and I think it is important to have that in mind on a regular basis.  What could I do better to help people?  Right now at this point in my life and with the resources available to me now, the question I think I need to ask myself is: what do I care about right now?  Because I can’t fix everything, and I can’t help everyone, but I can do something.  It doesn’t have to be overwhelming and turn into an all-or-nothing situation.

I am really passionate about:

food justice (and the elimination of urban food deserts)

the slow food fast food movement and the potential it has to make healthy food more accessible and (eventually)cheaper

women’s mental health, especially eating disorder prevention for adolescent girls and health education for underserved youth 

This year I have been pretty selfish (IMO) and I took a lot of time to do yoga, train for a marathon, read magazines, and sleep.  That was perhaps in response to the year before when I coached girls on the run, trained for a marathon, took a full load of classes, and worked for a healthy fast food restaurant as a manager and intern for the owner… wow.  Big difference.  And I miss feeling like what I am doing is meaningful to me.  I want to post this as a little reminder so that I can get involved with things that matter to me when I settle into Boston.  

And THAT is a novel.  Sorry.

What makes your life feel meaningful?  What would you like to do to make more of a difference in society?   Wasn’t that cashier a douche? 


2 Comments on “I swear I recycle!!!”

  1. hilary says:

    seriously cashier boy? I can’t wait to hear about Boston 🙂

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