Your home is killing the planet and mine isn’t: Let’s talk about eco-machismo

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Little Bunnies

My name is Cat, and I’m a vegetarian. I stopped eating meat after I got blitzed at my senior-year BFA show in college, discussed a tidbit from The Omnivore’s Dilemma with a friend, and then and there declared my intent to stop eating meat. I then, very emphatically, told the entire party that I AM BECOMING A VEGETARIAN.

When I woke up the next morning I remembered the declaration. I didn’t want to be “that person” — the one who makes drunken declarations I never live up to. Besides, my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I had been living together for several years and he’d been veg since age 13. That made the plunge seem easy, so I took it.

I can’t speak for my husband, but I’m veg because I believe that it lowers my impact on the planet. I try to make decisions about what I eat, what we buy, and the chemicals and products we use in our home with the intent that we are trying to make the limited resources our world has go a little bit farther for every person. And I don’t usually talk about it much, as other offbeat eaters (NOT meat-eaters!) often like to debate where I draw my consumption line. So sue me: I eat gelatin!

In the Offbeat community, there are so many people making thought-out, well-reasoned decisions about how they might live their lives differently than the rest of the world. Couples getting ring tattoos. Parents sleep training baby. Creating a non-black goth bedroom. That’s what I LOVE about the Offbeat Empire — everyone, Offbeat Lites included, seems to be firm subscribers to the idea that “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Adhering to this tenant makes the world so much more colorful.

Unfortunately, this can also lead to a load of judgement: as seen in DIYer than thou attitudes or the one-lowsmanship (judging people because you were able to spend less than them) sometimes found on Offbeat Bride. Ariel and I were talking about “eco machismo” — the propensity of people to try to strong-arm others’ stories with a “greener than thou” approach. In the end, as Ariel once said:

It’s all forms of status-seeking and seriously: that’s just fine. We all status seek — the issue is laying off the judgment of people who are seeking a status different than yours.

We all draw our own lines within the spectrum of eco-consciousness, and every bit helps. So even if you are “only” using a green cleaner and make no other changes — bravo!

On Offbeat Home, I anticipate that we’ll have some eco-machismo disagreements: your organic fertilizer is not vegan! When you turn off the computer you’re just adding wear and tear, and which is worse: Using electricity or buying a whole new computer? Aluminum siding was an irresponsible choice. A bunny dies every time you don’t compost a banana peel! HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT!?

We’ll try our best to foster discussions focused on celebrating the efforts that each of us make to create sustainable homes. We’re all on the same side here, and everyone has their own journey and their own priorities.

Comments on Your home is killing the planet and mine isn’t: Let’s talk about eco-machismo

  1. I am terrified by global warming and pollution and the current state of biodiversity in general on the planet. This led me to take actions in my life (recently becoming a vegetarian, trying to buy mostly organic and local products, trying to rcycle most things, trying not to use my husband’s car when I can walk or take the bus, etc.). I don’t think I am judmental, I sure hope I am not. Because all these efforts I am doing aim at soothing my own anxieties.
    If other people live differently, it means they don’t have my anxieties, good for them! I still hope they recycle, but that is not mine to control.
    I still like to hang out with people that care for the environment because they don’t think my concerns are silly and I learn a lot from them.

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