Thursday, April 06, 2006

You’re Too Poor and Ugly to Live Green

She’s on the cover, he’s on page twenty-six with his hands in the garden. They have two pure-bred Afghans named Ahab and Ishmael. They feed "the boys" one pound of raw, organically-raised beef every Sunday. Their home and backyard are perpetually in renovation – a little bit greener each time – most recently on a Budhist theme. Two SUVs are parked in the garage and for this they are embarrassed; they have a Prius on backorder. Their compost bins were custom built by an artist who needed the money. God’s compost bins, fit for clippings from the Elysian Fields. They had their lawn replaced with drought-resistant native plants. They have nine garden plots. The fennel leaves and carrots are almost ready. If they don’t grow their ingredients, they buy them from the farmer’s market. Keep the change, she says to the local farmer, dropping a twenty for a basket of squash. They eat chocolate made from cacao grown on a cooperative farm in Guatemala. Their dining table was fashioned from salvaged wood. They replaced their year-old bed with an Amish mattress made from tree-tapped rubber. They wear hemp shoes sewn by Portuguese unionists. They buy soaps made without petroleum-based perfumes, toothpaste without lauryl sulfates, and deodorant without aluminum chlorhydrate. They are white. He’s forty-nine and she’s been in her late twenties for fifteen years. They do not have children. The earth is their child. They live within two miles of a Whole Foods. They have tickets to the Oxfam famine banquet next Saturday. They donate to the Wilderness Preservation fund and cook portabello mushrooms while camping outside of Joshua Tree. When they visit the Galapogos islands, they do not step off the path. It’s a delicate ecosystem, he says. He’s a lawyer who specializes in corporate bankruptcy and she’s a green interior designer. Her signature move is to place an abstract, organic cotton couch in the middle of antiques – ottomans, chests of drawers, and floral rugs. They put their savings in Socially Responsible Investing mutual funds.

And you! Let’s just say you’re not quite poor enough to get food stamps. Whenever someone mentions Whole Foods, you smirk and say, “Whole Paycheck.” You would wear Blackspot Shoes, but they’re twice as expensive as your regular sneakers and your feet are extra wide. You’d like to garden and compost, but you live in an apartment that doesn’t have a backyard. If you put a plastic compost bin in the parking lot, your neighbors would complain about the smell even if it doesn’t smell. They would claim that there are more cockroaches since you moved in. You sleep on your grandmother’s old bed. The only thing that’s green about your mattress is that it caves in like a river valley when you lay down. You have about as much chance of living a green lifestyle as you do of becoming a Baywatch star. Come to think of it, the woman on the cover of that issue of Organic Style sort of looks like a Baywatch star. If you tried to live green, you’d look like some kind of worthless hippie. Not to mention you have a colicky baby and you’re a single mom. No, you have two babies and both you and your partner work full time at desk jobs. That’s not it, you have three boys – ages two, three, and five – who just might shake the house off its foundation before bedtime. It takes about all you’ve got to heat up some Hamburger Helper and open a can of fruit cocktail for dinner. Anyhow, you were raised on preservatives and you turned out fine…mostly. Face it. You’re too damn poor, ugly, and busy to live green.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Cutting me to the bone, I have been in a state of self loathing over my inaction towards using cloth diapers, this was the shove I needed. Modern life is such that anyone can feel overwhelmed, there are so many leaches on your time. Being a consumer alone is a lot of work, multiple phone bills, frequent flyer miles, discount cards, club memberships, I have not even mentioned those brave soles that seek out coupons. I find it hard to believe that there are not viable relatively painless steps that we can all make. I feel that a greater good would be achieved by reaching to the enviormentally unconcious masses. I live on a street where there is no curbside recycling available and I do not know of anyone else on my street that takes the four mile journey to the recycling station. Yes this comment was posted in 2006 in the USA. There are weapons of mass inaction all over rural America. It will not cost $2-3 trillion to rid the world of these weapons. Point being we need to force the big and the small changes and there will be a cost for everyone.

Robin said...

This post reminded me of this site. Link =

Lost said...

Thank you
I feel less guilty when I don't have to be compared with people like these,

p.s don't you just love when people who are rich enough to believe interior design could be an important issue to people like me preach about how they are better then us-normal folk and what is wrong with buying furniture donated to charities ect...rather then expensive anitiques

Lou said...

Hear, hear!

peacecindia said...

I was recycling when recycling wasn't cool--at least it wasn't cool to me.

>>Recycled antiques on garbage night from the curb.