A Thanksgiving Thought: Why I Stopped Obsessing About Being Green

A Thanksgiving Thought: Why I Stopped Obsessing About Being Green

Cambria Bold
Nov 23, 2011

This past July I wrote a post about getting off the 'screaming green' soapbox - negotiating that line between a healthy sense of obligation and an unhealthy sense of entitlement. I'm thinking about this again, because if there ever was a built-in soapbox for green enthusiasts, then Thanksgiving—with its bringing together of far-flung family members for a day of feasting and scheduled family time— is rife with unwelcome opportunities for an eco education.

Is this you? Instead of seeing a table full of bounty and a time to be reflective and thankful, you see a turkey (inhumane!), sweet potatoes and cranberries (not organic!), green beans and pumpkin pie (full of BPA!), and discarded leftovers (not composted!). Let me offer some advice: you're missing out if you obsess about living green all the time, or if you continually obsess about other people NOT living green.

I continue to make efforts to live a responsible, conscious life, but I am far from perfect. (Whatever "perfect" green living means. I don't know. Do you?) And what's more, I've discovered things that used to be important, well, aren't—at least not when they squelch everyone's merry mood or consume you to such a degree that you're incapable of enjoying the moment.

One reader in a comment on the soapbox post said it this way:

Things are what they are. If I were to fully commit every minute of my time and every ounce of my energy to being as "green" or "eco-conscious" as possible, I (personally) would not be able to enjoy this beautiful, amazing life nearly as much as I am thankfully able to right now. BUT, just because I may not measure up to someone else's standard of environmental perfection, doesn't mean I should give up entirely! Baby steps! We're all on a journey. Some of us have heavier backpacks, so we might move more slowly than others. Some of us might be heading in the opposite direction - some of us aren't even moving right now... Each of these baby steps I've taken has enriched my life, and not taken away from it, because I made the changes when I was ready for them and wanted to make them, instead of forcing them on myself because somebody somewhere said they were "right."

In other words, sometimes you just need to shut up. (And I say that with all due respect.)

So, tomorrow when you sit down to eat a meal that took hours to prepare, when you look around at friends and family (some of whom traveled long hours to get there), when you feel the urge to offer a lifestyle adjustment or environmental lesson, take pause... and instead raise your glass, be thankful, and just let go.

(Image: Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan)

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