Today my boss and I ended up doing a little research project, trying to find information about, among other things, the ecological footprint of buildings. It was one of those incredible fun yet frustrating research projects because I end up finding all manner of sites chock full of information that have very little to do with the project at hand, but still are interesting enough I get distracted reading them.
Naturally, when searching for things on environment and ecological footprints, we both ended up finding variations on a theme – quizzes we could take to find out what our own ecological footprints were. And naturally, since these type of sites do tend to be a little weighted, we were told we're just big wasteful Americans and if everyone lived like we did we'd need nearly four planets to support our wasteful little habits.
It's not that I don't realize that I'm not living as environmentally conservative and considerate as I probably could, but it does frustrate me that things like this tend to skew results without taking into account a lot of important topics. But even knowing this, doing this kind of research, especially after taking the environmental footprint quiz, really gets to me after a while. It fills me with guilt for all the things I could be doing but am not. It makes me want to rebuild our house to make use of the natural breezes for ventilation, and solar panels for energy. It makes me want to turn our entire backyard into a garden where we can grow our own vegetables, which I will then can in little glass jars tied with sisal string, and line them up on little shelves in my laundry room so in the middle of winter there they are, just waiting to be eaten. And it makes me feel horribly guilty for not trying to get to work some other way than by car, even though it would take me twice as long and cost twice as much.
But then I come to my senses and remember that I really hate gardening and I really don't think I could stand to live in this part of California without air conditioning, and despite my best intentions there is no practical way for me to get to work except by car. So instead of going overboard and become an ecomaniac, I instead resolve to adjust the air conditioner controls to higher temperatures, and try to remember to always recycle every scrap of paper and cardboard and every plastic or glass or tin container we use, and maybe eat meat a few less times a week. And I remind myself that as soon as we pay off our current car loan I'm trading in my car for a hybrid. And maybe someday my office will move to a place that is closer to a bus line, and maybe once I start on my very tiny little garden I will discover a heretofore unrealized love of bugs and dirt and weeding, and maybe the guy who installs solar panels will finally call us to schedule an evaluation of our roof like he said he would when we signed up for it weeks ago, and maybe that's all I can reliably count on for now.