Friday, May 8, 2009

New Format: Confessions of a Consumer

Photo by Loving Earth (whose photos I LOVE, btw) on Flickr using Creative Commons.

While I've happily switched many of my regular habits and favorite brands in favor of more "green" ones, I find that there are still some things I'm reluctant to change, and I'll readily admit that there are some others I doubt I will ever change. This internal battle sometimes makes me cringe with pangs of green guilt. There are degrees of change - greenwashing (not at all green) , green "light" (only marginally green), and like a cave woman (which I imagine would be the ultimate "green" lifestyle), and I'd say that on an average day I'm living at about "green medium", smack-dab in the middle. I often fantasize about BIG changes - installing low-flow, combination sink/toilets, installing solar panels and light tubes in the roof - but without the financial means to also make big changes comfortable and manageable, many of the bigger changes just aren't feasible. I won't stop dreaming, but sometimes I have to remind myself that it's okay to make change in stages, and to hold onto a few guilty pleasures.

Choosing the degree of eco-change to incorporate into our individual lives is a personal decision, one that is affected by economic, sociocultural, familial, interpersonal, psychological, experiential, geographic and other constraints and personal preferences. In short, it's subjective. There are a handful of changes we can make to conclusively effect greater change, but to my knowledge no one has come up with a formula that works for everyone, in every circumstance, to lighten our carbon footprints on the planet. I believe that the most important change we can make as individuals is to be conscious about our choices - to think about what impact we have with each choice and proceed in accordance with our own unique consciences.

All that stream of consciousness is just a philosophical way to introduce the next new post format on Great Green Blogs: Consumer Confessions. In my confessions, I'll 'fess up to the green efforts I'm particularly falling short on, or old habits I have reverted to. These posts will serve in part as satya (truth) and swadhyaya (self-study, or self-reflection). I invite you to share your own confessions in the comments section. Come on, it'll be cathartic! :)

What habits or products are you most reluctant to change?


Today's Consumer Confession: I love my lipstick.

I turn off and unplug appliances when they're not in use, I turn off the tap while I'm brushing my teeth, and I've turned down the thermostat to what feels uncomfortably cold to me in the winter months, but I cannot (yet) give up my favorite lipstick. I realize that my one tube of lipstick per year (it may not last quite that long, but it sure is close) isn't going to save the planet, but I also realize that it's only vanity that keeps me from tossing it. The thing is, it's the most neutral, light color I've been able to find, and it works for day or night, dressy or casual circumstances, regardless of what color I wear. I don't own a cabinet full of lipsticks, so this is pretty much the one I wear every day. (I own a few "special occasion" lipsticks - one red and one slightly more pink.)

In the simplicity category, this lipstick wins. I could easily wear only this one for the foreseeable future. Further, when the lipstick gets down to the tube I use a lip brush to continue to use all the product until there really is none left. I've worked it out to a fine science. ;)

On the other hand, I'm not entirely comfortable with the company or the ingredients, and I know there are options out there that fall more in line with my values.

In my defense, I really have tried to find a lipstick for daily wear that I can wear proudly. I found one that I'm thrilled with (and will review in a future post), but it just isn't my trusty favorite. I haven't given up the search, but for the moment, this is one of my remaining guilty pleasures.

In case you're wondering which lipstick I'm so ga-ga for, it's Different Lipstick in Tenderheart by Clinique.