While we’re at it: a rant.

Though, to be fair, this is more blowing off steam, because Anni mentioned something in one of her videos the other day that really irked the hell outta me. Overall, it was a great vlog — I love the feel of these, of getting to feel like we’re visiting even if it’s one sided. And, it wasn’t anything that Anni did that got me all hot under the collar, but rather that someone decided to challenge her on something so very silly, like having paper towels on her counter.

It hit close to home because, briefly, for a bit, I was that judgy sort of pagan. Oh, do your religion and your spirituality however you feel called, but how could you used ‘disposable’ items so freely? How could you purchase things packaged in plastic? How could you eat such processed things? How could you, how could you, how could you?

The thing is, we’re pretty much set up to be this way. Our society is not set up to encourage reuse, to live a different way, etc., and while it’s all very well and good to focus on those sorts of changes, those who can do so are often coming from a place of privilege and/or wealth. I’ve lived in places where access to good groceries stores required a car. The ability to use cloth napkins and spill-rags rather than paper towels is dependent upon having reliable access to a washer and dryer, and using them means more water usage and laundry soap.

We use a ton of paper towels in our house, as we have a dog who has accidents (diuretics and a stubbornness about peeing outside if it’s dark or wet), and in Beth’s store, as curing incense and candle making requires them. We go through a lot of disposable pee pads. For a while, I was using towels instead, but that required laundry every day, and our water bill went sky high. I don’t buy organic, because instead I live in a house full of people on medication, and my insurance won’t cover my pets. We use a lot of trash bags. I don’t always get the best and most humanely handled meat (although, this above all else we strive for because it’s just better all around).

The sorts of changes our society needs to make, to be sustainable consumers, cannot be tackled by the individual, and it is utterly deplorable that anyone would expect — demand — that those  already struggling to get through their day add the burden of ‘greening’ their lives, to boot. Beth has a business that’s doing well enough that she doesn’t need another job. I’m working full time in retail for just over minimum wage, and I can’t afford to find another job (which will just be the same sort of job anyway) because I can’t afford for us to lose my health insurance — and we are *still* only living paycheck to paycheck. And compared to many people I know and love, we’re doing pretty fucking well.

You don’t know what people are facing. You don’t know that what they’re giving up to get through a day, you don’t know how their lives are barely tolerable, you don’t know that that one fucking cup of tea in a disposable cup is their one bright spot of the day, you don’t know that whether facing a sink full of dishes will be the last thing they can’t handle, that makes them convinced life isn’t worth living. You don’t know what brings them joy, and if you’re just policing their actions without offering any help or wanting to even know them as a person, you are only adding the problem. So fuck off.

I am tired of the tearing-down of people. Can we please, please focus on building up? Be the change you want to see in the world, and mind your damned business otherwise.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ve been on both sides of this. I used to be the one talking about how easy sustainability and greening is, but that was before my health dive-bombed. We use so many single use items anymore, simply due to limited space alone. Those glass containers are heavy, which we still use when they’re clean, but I cuss them every time I have to clean out the fridge (which is exhausting). We get those plastic bags at the grocery store, because we reuse them for things like cat litter.

    And organic farming isn’t necessarily better. They still use pesticides, some more damaging than others. We prefer to buy local when we can over organic, because we support the farmers locally instead of in another country simply for the organic label. The best organic produce rarely carries the organic stamp, because the process of getting certified organic is a lot of paperwork and means very little these days.

    When leading a sustainable/green lifestyle becomes a means with which to judge, it’s no longer sustainable to a community and alienates people who would otherwise be allies.

    1. Jolene Poseidonae says:

      The best organic produce rarely carries the organic stamp, because the process of getting certified organic is a lot of paperwork and means very little these days.<<

      So much, this.

      I'm not saying that we shouldn't be mindful — I'll never say that. But I am saying that sometimes being mindful means mindfully buying the standard cat litter because it's faster to scoop, and requires less clean up time and is less track-able through the house, and makes the cats sneeze less. Sometimes it's mindfully deciding that lugging reusable containers to the store to get bulk items isn't worth the time or energy to deal with, and that the plastic bags they provide will allow you to not have to recover for as long, from shopping.

      When leading a sustainable/green lifestyle becomes a means with which to judge, it’s no longer sustainable to a community and alienates people who would otherwise be allies.<<

      Way more articulate than I managed. Thank you.

  2. Widdershins says:

    Hell yes! … we choose our battles and do what we can. 🙂

  3. Lis says:

    Love this post. Thank you. ❤

  4. Soli says:

    Coming in a little later but adding that we do have a culture which tells us our little actions “add up,” but neglecting to mention the damage done by multinationals and governments. It’s sickening if you really think about it.

  5. Stevie Miller says:

    Wait, someone *seriously* gave another Pagan shit because there was a roll of paper towels visible in their video?

    This defies all comprehension. Even if we leave aside the debate of whether or not paper towels (possibly from recycled material) are worse for the environment than extra loads of laundry…even if we ignore the sanitary or health situations in which disposable products are necessary…even if we forget about the fact that not every spiritual path is “Earth centered” and therefore not everyone is religious about going green…there’s still some idea, in someone’s head, that yelling at somebody for something so trivial is the best way to make them accept new ways of thinking?

    Some days, the stupid, it really, really hurts.

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