On Sunday I took S & N to the coffee shop except that I didn't buy myself a cup of tea because I'd forgotten my travel mug at home. I think I could have asked for a mug instead of a paper cup but when you're traveling with five year old twins you can't always guarantee that you won't have to leave in a hurry.
I wonder if there's a scientific name for green guilt, or how many people suffer from this phenomenon. How many people are denying themselves a cup of tea because they left their stainless steel travel mug at home, or encouraging check out clerks to stuff their purchases into their pocket books and then emptying it all onto the floor of the cars because they forgot their reusable bags?
Or - to take it a step further, how many people are almost unable to shop at department stores because of the almost crippling certainty that the product they need already exists and that they could buy it used rather than new if they just looked a little harder.
Who wouldn't buy a Cub Scout handbook for their eight year old without first trying to find one on Freecycle. Who can scarcely comprehend purchasing new clothes? Who thrifted a $2 electric hand beater, bought a $25 bike off Craig's list, and got a vintage pencil sharpener on Freecycle?
Green guilt is the nagging feeling that you really ought to make everything from scratch because that's the only way to avoid a plastic bag around your bread or BPA in the tin can lining of your stewed tomatoes.
I don't think I've gone completely over the line yet but when you start having a hard time living your life because you're thinking about how your every move might effect the environment, it's not just green guilt, it's paralyzing green guilt. It keeps you from buying something you need. It's the equivalent of the Catholic guilt described recently on This American Life where people were constantly confessing sins that weren't actually sins, or worse, people where unable to live normal lives because they were sure that everything they did or were about to do could be construed as a sin.
song: Shame on You • artist: Indigo Girls