Thursday, May 24, 2007

Reconciling Discouragement With Hope

For some reason, it has been really hard for me to write about sustainability since we got back from Southern California a couple of weeks ago. I guess it was just so disheartening being in the land of 12-lane freeways and drive-thru everything, my little happy bubble got popped for awhile. It's easy, when you live where I do, to believe that most people are interested in and striving for sustainability, that people really do think about the consequences of their actions, that change is starting to happen. And perhaps it is, still. I know things have to start at the grassroots level, and I know that every little bit helps and as those little bits join together, real change can happen.

The irony, of course, is not lost on me. We went to Southern California to do the whole Disney thing. The kids love it, I love it, my mom has just retired and hasn't been to Disneyland since I was ten, so she has really been looking forward to going there with the kids. And we totally had a blast. It's almost blasphemy around here to admit that you like Disneyland, but despite the fact that it is a wholly commercialized mecca, I still check my sense of reality at the gate every single time and have a great time. So we were there to soak up the total commercial experience, I don't know why it would be so shocking to encounter everything that goes with that.

I guess it's strange to think how far outside the mainstream norm your everyday life is. We went by a McDonald's one day for lack of time and opportunity to find a different restaurant. Got a meal to go and went down to the beach to eat. I was just shocked when we were done by how much garbage there was left over. Big plastic clamshells from the salads and napkins and boxes and plastic forks and all. And of course not even any recycling to put it in to mitigate even a fraction of it. Taking that big bag of stuff and throwing it in a trashcan felt so awful. It was about as much garbage as our family generates in a week - seriously! And then thinking of that multiplied by all the fast food meals sold in an hour in this country, well, I felt like crying.

So right now I'm trying not to feel hopeless, trying to get back into that happy bubble and do what I know I need to do: change the things I can, work towards bringing change to the world around me, walk on the path I want to be walking on.


Christy said...

That is the world I live in everyday which is why I'm so discouraged and depressed by the future of our country. I don't live in an area where anyone is at all interested in sustainability. It is just consume, consume around here. I'm really looking forward to moving somewhere where others may be interested in sustainability.

Wendy said...

I had my wake-up call recently, too. Tourist season here in southern coastal Maine started this weekend, and we happened to go down the beach. From water to dune grass, the beach was littered with trash. It was so depressing. I realized that there aren't as many people intersted in leaving the consumer lifestyle as I had thought as I sit here in my happy little bubble visiting with my like-minded friends and the people I've met in the blogosphere.

Danielle said...

Funny, this sounds so much like part of my post upon returning from Disney World.

It really is culture shock to go out and experience the profligacy and decadence. Of course I could always do more, but so much of what we're doing has become second nature that I don't even think about it anymore. It just doesn't register until I go out in the world and it all comes rushing back.

Alexis said...

Hi Robin, I just wanted to applaud you for your journey. Most of us Americans (born before Generation Y) were not raised with a world view of sustainability, permaculture, organics, etc. Just as you are unschooling your children (more applause), you are unlearning a lifetime of habits. We all are. Change is a process. Keep at it, and be encouraged.