I was thinking about how I (kind of) live this way, or try to, and cause myself no end of stress making moral decisions that sometimes I can fulfill and other times I cannot. Often these are "political decisions", but they have a large ethical or moral component. I make these decisions many times each day, because I believe that all of my decisions - small to large - impact on the world and others in it and therefore have an effect on those around me and on the planet. I remember when my husband's cousin moved from the US back to Canada with her US born/raised husband - how he said that he had never met people as principled as us - he said he had no idea that some people actually thought about how to live, and then tried to live by their principles. It was flattering, but we were surprised because we thought a lot of people (at least those well educated with good jobs and time to contemplate their lives) would be worrying about living according to their principles - Of course, that was twenty years ago and now we know that most people do not.
Most people, I believe, do not think about anything but their own immediate need, even though I also believe (possibly without corroborating evidence) that people are basically co-operative, social animals and do understand what is good for the pack/tribe/city/province/country , is also good for them. They don't vote that way, but I thought that was a result of the influence through education, media etc of monopoly capitalism.
So why I am tormented by driving a car (I live 30 minutes out of town and there is no bus service) to work every day - never mind that it is a condition of my employment that I have a car and bring it to work and that the employer pays the maintenance costs of my vehicle. I moved to NS and moved to this house . . . I fell in love with the view and being in the country and only when gas went to $1.50/litre did I really start to get it. I try not to idle but in winter found myself doing it on occasion while waiting in the car (lined up in traffic, or waiting for someone on the street). I didn't mean to set up my life this way, but I am stuck with it at least for the immediate future - although moving back "to town" is on the horizon.
I try not to eat meat, because it is not sustainable, but find myself doing it because it is too easy and fast - and the veg options are often boring (not that they need to be - but at work for instance there are many soup and sandwich lunches - the "veg" option will be a slice of processed cheese and a thin slice of tomato and maybe -if you are lucky - some lettuce.) or non-existent. When I am depressed it is meat that I crave - a bacon and tomato sandwich or lamb chops with greek salad. . . I believe it would be better to have none but I don't do most of the cooking. The other day I had a class where we served vegetarian lasagna and 5 people out of 20 went out for lunch without even trying it, because it was vegetarian! I try not to eat a lot of fish because they are not sustainable - NS farmed mussels, clams and oysters - all OK. Lobster seems to be a debate, though I am still eating it a couple of times a year (esp. this year, because this year it was a moral imperative to buy lobster to help the fishermen!) and it is Local. I do carry the fish list with me - but hey its not like you can ask at the counter in Sobey's - "Is that haddock dragged or long lined?" I mean you can ask, but they haven't a clue. I keep asking and insisting that I will buy fish when they do know but every single time I have the feeling that I am the only one who has ever asked. (At Pete's Fruitique fish counter - they know!)
I don't buy newspapers anymore but read them online saving a little paper - but then yesterday Kevin did buy the Globe and Mail because an American flag with a hammer and sickle on the front cover was more than he could resist. We use reusable (not plastic) bags, and try to keep our plastic and disposables (like paper towel and foil) at a minimum - but if you are also working hard and often and long on issues, time to traipse all over the city trying to find unwrapped food is tough, so most of our shopping is done at big grocery stores where our only option is avoidance of the worst things. Most fruit and veg are still unwrapped although it is amazing how often the cashiers want to wrap that romaine in plastic before putting it in my non-plastic bag!
I have been lucky in that I have had opportunity for most (but not all) of my adult life to work at jobs that were related to issues I cared about. But even there I found myself being unpopular or even being asked to leave jobs (twice) because my politics and moral judgements were unpopular. (too left wing!) i have worked in commission sales and consulting though. . . making even more difficult decisions about who and what I was supporting and the social value of contracts and their possible outcomes.
We never made any "investments" even when we had money (well OK we have 3-4,000 in mutual funds that were back end loaded so we had to keep them ) invested in some year when I suddenly panicked about retirement until I realized there was nothing I could do - I am just going to be poor.
I am tormented about food - I would love to do the 100 mile diet but esp in Nova Scotia pretty difficult without devoting yourself to it almost full time (time I do not have) but we do buy Local first, then organic, sometimes taking distance alone into account. (Quick - no googling allowed - try buying tomatos in NS. . . which is closer Florida or an Ontario greenhouse?)
I think the world would be better if we didn't keep buying stuff and especially "new stuff" all the time though my own alienation has never been sated by shopping anyway (except maybe shopping for food.) It is easy to shop at thrift shops for my grandchildren, but as I am over "average" size there is little to nothing that would fit me in the thrift store, although I have been lucky on occasion - again if I had more time to browse I might be lucky more often - but I only have time to run in and out - for the most part I am just wearing clothes that are 10 years plus old. . . except a couple of years ago I had to buy some summer stuff as everything I had was too heavy.
For most of my life I have not had the money or the time to travel. I have worked since I was 16 but always seemed to have a lot to do and not much money. Until recently I never ran up a big credit card debt (did move and live on a paid down mortgage though - so now at 56 have little equity left) Now that there is more life in the past than in the future, I decided - screw it I want to travel - and now we have credit card debt - though we have been to India and Cuba. But, now that I have made the decision that it is time to see the world before I get too old or sick or poor (I don't have much of a pension to look forward to) it is not very moral to fly. Flying creates a ton of GHG's - so I know I should not do it for "fun". . . but I want to, and I am not sure that I am willing to stop. On top of that I live in Nova Scotia but my aging mother lives in Toronto as does one son and my sister. My other brother lives in Montreal with his wife, and my son is moving there in the fall. So family is spread across Canada and because we get so little vacation in this country it is impossible to visit without flying. Should I just stay home and perhaps try and make do with calling? It will not make my mother feel that I love her and care about her and will upset the rest of my family that I appear "not to care" , so I guess I will keep flying and feeling guilty about it.
I don't shop at Walmart - ever - and don't understand how people can. They are the front runners in a chain of exploitation that goes round the world - I mean I shop at Zellers and most of their stuff also comes from Chinese factories but somehow they are not the player in maximizing profits and reducing costs - especially the cost of human capital that Walmart does. . . but it seems to really rub people the wrong way that I boycott Walmart, (they really flip about my Chapters boycott!) and if I actually don't make any enemies over it, I sure don't make friends, while everyone is feeling that I am criticizing them for their choices. And, I guess I am. . .
I live in a house that is not as clean as some, because I don't use a swiffer or other disposable "stuff" and I don't use a lot of powerful cleaners - lots of vinegar, baking soda and environmental cleaners. No bleach in the washing machine (I have NEVER used bleach) no fabric softener, but we use a commercial detergent because Kevin seems to react to the "environmental" ones. We think about a lot of these things because we have a well and a septic system - we are responsible for our own water system, whether it is clean and safe, and have to worry about how much effluent we are pumping into the septic system and worry about whether it is functioning properly and how often(if ever) it needs to be pumped out. This makes you aware of the environmental impact of your water use - we also have a low flow well - so we do not have unlimited water. So no one in this house lets the water run unnecessarily though we have not run out of water for a couple of years (used to run out the first year we were in the house, 'til we got to used to water not being limitless - but there is plenty. )
We live on the coast, on an inlet that is partly salt marsh. I have no idea what I should be doing to stop the shoreline from eroding if anything, and I wonder about the beaches near me and what I should be doing to protect them - I don't think that anything I am doing is making the erosion worse but I don't know much about it.
I thought I wanted to live here, out of town, on the ocean, near (but not on) the big surf - I love the ocean but to afford to live here I need a job that pays a lot - and I have one - a good paying, exciting, interesting job, but it leaves no time to enjoy the ocean, the house, the trails - really almost none and then if you want to use your vacation time to see a bit of the world (feeling guilty about the flying) then why am I living here? So I moved to NS to be in nature, to be near the ocean and to be more contemplative - and all I have done is make for a lot of travel time, distance from family and reduced income (although I still make a decent living) and so I am thinking about selling the house, moving into town, maybe renting an apartment instead of buying another house, and going back to City living but in this province. That makes me wonder if I should be thinking about moving back to Toronto . . . oh me. . . so those are my thoughts for the morning - just felt compelled to share - and now I am off to take the grand kids to see Monsters vs Aliens. . . hope we have a good time. I will feel guilty about eating expensive popcorn, driving two cars too far, eating crap and being too fat. . . but I cannot do anymore.