I have environment fatigue. I am reading this book for a virtual book club (the only type I seem capable of doing these days), and it's all about how much water and gasoline or whatever it takes to produce all of our crap and ship it to us here in America, where we sit peeling grapes and sipping champagne while the rest of the world starves to death.
And I go to the grocery store, and I look around, and all the produce came from a million miles away. Which is BAD, right? Except a million miles away is where oranges are in season.
Here's the thing: the million-mile-away produce tastes like hell, anyway. In fact, most food tastes like hell -- it's so over-salted or bred to look pretty instead of taste good -- and has enough high-fructose corn syrup in it to make us all gain weight without upping calories. But the farmers markets aren't open yet and nothing is in season yet and quite frankly? I don't have an extra $200/month for co-op farming or the time it takes to drive out there and hoe a row or whatever. I grew up with farmers in Iowa and am probably going to get cancer from the field run-off. You can't win. Let's not romanticize it. You either spray the food with dangerous shit or it gets eaten by bugs or killed by weeds. There are no unicorns in farming.
Where am I going with this? (other than ranting, yes, yes, I'm doing that)
I'm tired of hearing about how we all suck.
TIRED OF IT.
Tired of hearing about how our wasteful consumerism brought the housing market blow-up upon us. Tired of hearing how we shouldn't all have access to health care because our country is so far in debt. Tired of hearing how Americans and our blood lust for Happy Meal toys is polluting rivers in China. Tired of worrying about cadmium in the kids' jewelry and BPA in the food containers and forgetting my fucking canvas bags at the grocery store and feeling like shit all the way home with the plastic bags that I use to line my garbage containers so I don't have to buy, um, plastic garbage bags to protect my trash cans from body-fluid-soaked tissues and the like. Because if they got all stained then I would have to fucking replace them.
I'm sick of plastic, too, but until Wal-Mart starts carrying wooden Easter eggs, I don't know what to tell you.
I know you can seek out wood Easter eggs. I'm sure they're charming and can be found on Etsy. But to ship them to me ... there goes all that gasoline and whatever that we're not supposed to be using. To drive to that farmers' market, you have to get in your car. So world, stop telling everyone we're doing it wrong.
We're just trying to live.
Yes, Americans suck in a variety of ways. We love reality television. We worship celebrities. We desire cup-holders for a walk down the street. We have the audacity to want what our parents had -- houses to raise our kids in and inexpensive fruits and vegetables to feed said children.
But do we really suck so much? Is everything really all our fault?
Is it our fault it's prohibitively expensive to make clothes now and really cheap to buy them?
Is it our fault everything we buy falls apart really, really fast, and it's nearly impossible to find someone nearby to resole shoes or repair a vacuum?
Is it our fault our computers get outdated in three to five years and then we have to pay someone quite a bit to "recycle" them or be faced with either storing them forever or trying to convince some other schmuck to take them off our hands?
Is it our fault that most communities charge extra to recycle but will take the trash for a low, low price?
The problem is that conservation and capitalism don't really mesh. I for one am sick to death of everything falling apart so fast but feeling so guilty about throwing anything away. I want better choices, for which I am prepared to save my pennies in order to afford those higher-quality goods. And then, I don't want them to fall apart. Or if they do, I want the company to send some guy out to fix them. Or I want a repair shop that will fix my shit for less than it would cost to replace it, which is the exact opposite of repair shops now who charge more than half the retail price of the product in order to make it work again. I want to buy a piece of furniture once in my lifetime instead of living with a bunch of crappy paperboard in various states of disrepair. I want some fucking quality. Which doesn't jibe so well with an economy that is fueled by consumers constantly purchasing new things and throwing away the old things.
I'm not really a hard-core conservationist. Sometimes being told over and over again that I need to compost makes me want to throw away an aluminum can in rebellion.
I'm not really a socialist; I'm just observing what sort of behavior capitalism brings out in people over a couple hundred years.
Really what I am is a person trying to provide my child with a comfortable life and food that won't kill her and clothes that fit her growing body, and I am tired of being chastised by books and Discovery television specials and magazine articles for not having the energy to do anything buy pick the mass-produced box of mac & cheese off the shelf at the grocery store down the street at the end of a 65-hour workweek. I'm sorry, world. But I'm a grape-peeling, champagne-drinking American, and I'm working my ass off to give my kid the same life I had growing up with a stay-at-home mom who sewed clothes because that was cheaper and she owned a sewing machine and had more than 45 minutes a day in which to cram all her housework.
We wouldn't need so many conveniences if we just had more time. We crappy Americans work more hours than any other industrialized nation. What could change if we didn't insist on quarterly exponential growth?