Green Religion

There are few people as religiously zealous and puritanical as a leftist environmentalist. Going to school with them, influenced far more than I realized at the time, I still have a sense of sin with each deviation from the green “rules” I absorbed while I was in college and grad school ostensibly getting an education.

From the petty infractions—my preferring Dunkin Donuts’ durable and insulating styrofoam coffee cups that don’t leak or spill or chill to Starbucks’ feeble tho eco chic paper ones—to the larger like enjoying driving a large gas guzzling SUV. Or throwing away containers that I used to re-use repeatedly (tho vaguely disheartened by their cruddiness), or cleaning house now by throwing things away willy nilly instead of spending hours separating trash, taking this to the thrift store…the point is, I wince and find it hard to do such things without feeling guilty. Because they feel sinful..

As a Christian, I am naturally sympathetic to many so called “green” bits of advice. Was raised that God means us to be good stewards. Despite my natural extravagance on hobbies, my family tries to be frugal, and as traditional New Englanders we tend to automatically do all those things coopted by the greenies: use up, make do or do without, most of the time. Not to save Gaia, but to save money for our children’s education or family’s medical care and/or be able to give it away to church and those in need. I grow my own vegetables organically, yadda, yadda, yadda, but these things are means not an end. Tools.

A good piece in City Journal by Benjamin Plotinsky on messianism in totalitarianism and in the election of our current leader, and on how” the left’s radical zealotry increasingly resembles religious experience”

Including this on environmentalism gone wild (h/t Gerard):

Environmentalism does indeed tell its adherents “what to eat” (pesticide-free organic food, preferably grown nearby to cut down on trucking) and “how to travel” (by public transportation or, better yet, bicycle). But it also lays down rules on nearly every aspect of life in a consumer economy: how to wash your clothes (seldom); how to wash yourself (take a shower, not a bath, and use a low-flow showerhead); how to light your house (with fluorescent bulbs); how to choose your TV (look for the Energy Star logo!); how to go to the bathroom (with high-efficiency toilets and recycled paper); how to invest, clean, sleep, and dress (in environmentally friendly companies, with nontoxic chemicals, on sheets made of “sustainable fibers,” and in clothes made of the same); and even how to procreate (Greenpeace has issued a guide to “environmentally friendly sex”).

Just to be a little less cranky and second hand, here are some of the “green” rules I now disobey and why (I did, however, breastfeed all of my kids 24/7 for years, and washed cloth diapers at home and line dried them…so I have been known to be green)::

1) Setting my water thermostat lower. Stopped because the clothes don’t get clean in the wash, the dishes aren’t sterilized properly in the dishwasher.
2) Never spraying anything toxic in the garden: I draw the line at poison ivy and yellow jacket nests near human high-traffic areas. I have also seen a row of hemlock trees die, six rose bushes, numerous rhodendrons, plum, apricot, nectarine and cherry trees get sicker and sicker without sprays. My squash gets destroyed by borers. If I had to support myself and feed myself from my yard, I would starve as pests and diseases are real and destructive. I avoid chemicals to the extent possible, but will now practice IPM.
3) Using low energy lightbulbs: they make people look greenish and ruin indoor nighttime photos
4) Commuting to work by bike. I used to do this when I was young and single and didn’t have children to support and educate. These days my life is more valuable to others. ALso, it is completely unsafe bicycling around here.
5) Saving everything to reuse sometime (one only has so much space, and clutter is a fire hazard).
6) Buying large containers of things to reduce packaging. Packaging helps in portion control and preventing breakage and spoilage.
7) Composting all yard waste: weeds and their seeds and tubers, etc. cannot all be destroyed in a compost pile
8) Low flow toilets: do not flush properly.
9) Eating less animal protein and more complex carbs: animal protein improves mood and brain functioning, and you get less fat on it than on a starchy diet.
11) Feeding a large dog when there are starving kids in the world. The dog is my security system, therapist, pest repellent and best friend all in one. If I am happier because my dog loves me, I will spend less money on useless toys for myself.

That’s enough for now. How about you…

Now I’m going to go have a long, hot shower, with all the lights blazing in the house, and the heat on because it is 35 degrees out, and do anything else I can think of to thumb my nose at those who would tell me what to do and how to do it. Because I worship no one, and follow no rule of life except those laid down by a man whose initials are J.C.