It’s easy to be green…isn’t it?

Despite what a certain frog once said, today it’s not very hard to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle.  Walmart sells organic food, LED lightbulbs are shelved with incandescent ones at hardware stores, and it’s as easy to find a recycling bin as it is to find a trash can in some areas.  Actually, almost everything you need probably comes in an “eco-friendly” or “green” version.  A quick search on Amazon for “eco-friendly” generated over 200,000 different items.

But wait, is it really that simple?  Is all it takes to make a difference in the world to go out and buy one of these “eco” products?  Maybe not.  Common sense tells us that everything we buy comes in a package of some sort.  That’s wasted material right there.  “But wait!”  you say.  “I recycle!  And I use re-usable bags when I shop at the grocery store!  I AM making a difference!”

At least, that’s what we’ve been told it will take to save the world.  Just look at the childhood classic The Lorax.

The premise is pretty simple.  You can watch the clip there (there’s a link to the second part) but the idea is this:  Once-ler develops a new product, a “th-need” from the tufts of the Truffula tree.  Everybody wants a th-need.  Demand for the Once-ler’s product goes up, so he increases production.  The Lorax, the guardian of the trees, tries to warn him that he’s killing the Earth, but the Once-ler doesn’t listen.  This continues until there are no Truffula trees left, everything is dirty and polluted, and the Once-ler is out of business.  In the end, he entrusts the last Truffla seed to a young boy, telling him to take care of it, help it grow, and restore everything to how it was.

I LOVED The Lorax when I was growing up.  Heck, I still love it as a semi-hippie.  But is that really the lesson we want to be teaching?

Michael Maniates writes extensively on this topic.  His paper Individualization: Plant a Tree, Buy a Bike, Save the World? looks at these issues in-depth, focusing on The Lorax as a case study for how our society views environmentalism.  Basically, his point is: people want to individualize the problem of environmental damage and repair, so they like to focus on things that they can do as individuals (like planting a tree or riding a bike) and avoid working to solve these problems as a society.  Maniates argues, though, that we need to use societal means to solving this problem.  He advocates working for government and community reform.  It’s sort of like Captain Planet (yes, I am reliving my childhood as I write this).  The kids need to work together to summon Captain Planet so they can save the world, and they can’t do it by themselves, or even with two or three of them.  They needed everybody to be able to save the day.

Maniates isn’t trying to say you shouldn’t do those individual things.  Neither am I.  I recycle, walk almost everywhere I go, take reusable grocery bags with me shopping, and turn the lights off when I leave my room.  These are all great things to do.  But the point is, without changes on a large-scale, even if everybody was doing these individual things, environmental damage would still happen.

There are several ways to influence the direction the government takes.  Although it sometimes seems like Congress is only dealing with whatever issue is in the news that week, in truth, there are discussions about almost everything on the agenda every day.  One of the best ways to be heard is to write to your Congressmen (or women) and tell them what you think.  Here you can find out who your representative in the House, as well as how to contact them, and you can do the same thing for the Senate here.  Both the House and Senate websites also have places you can find out what’s going to be voted on in the next week or so, which is usually a good time to write in about specific issues or concerns you might have.

You can also get involved on a state or local level, by talking to your local representatives.  This could be a little harder to find, but you can often forge a personal relationship with the person you’re talking to, and as they are responsible for a smaller area, change can sometimes happen faster.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that the environment isn’t going to get better without you, but the problems are too big for one person to solve.  (Unless it’s Captain Planet).


Is Feminism Dead?

I recently came across this article and it left me feeling troubled.  The article is, in short, the response of an escort-turned-blogger to the numerous envious e-mails she gets from young women.  It fed my curiosity, enough that I clicked on the link over to the author’s blog, Nightmare Brunette.  (WARNING: The writing is often wonderful and heart-wrenching, but is at times moderately to very explicit).

What’s interesting is that Charlotte’s (a pen-name) account of the call girl life doesn’t sound at all like what I would generally imagine.  I’ve probably seen too many TV specials about girls forced into sex slavery, or drug addicts who have to sell their bodies so they can afford their vices.  Neither does it remind me of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, where she’s rescued and lives the fairy tale happily ever after life.  It appears, as is often the case, that Hollywood and the media in general have taken a very broad spectrum of experiences and lumped them all into one of two polarized caricatures.

Is this fantasy what causes young women to envy Charlotte?  Certainly, they don’t want to be sex slaves or destitute, infected drug addicts.  So, they must want the happily ever after experience.  Charlotte, disagrees, saying that it’s the pressure that society places on women to be pretty and slim and sexually attractive to earn their place, and that in being an escort, you are gaining confirmation that those things are true.  Reading it right after this older story about how girls, starting at a very young age, are playing up the “Girls Gone Wild” cliche of the drunken slut, paints a very disturbing picture.

First off, do girls really think this?  That a man, in saying he will pay you to sleep with him, is validating your existence as a woman?  That’s ridiculous.  In saying he will pay you, he’s saying he’s DESPERATE.  Sure, if he’s paying a lot of money, he’s going to want somebody better looking, but really?  It’s not that he finds you the most stunning, lust-worthy woman ever, and that’s why he has to pay you to sleep with him, it’s that YOU’RE AVAILABLE provided he pays a fee.  That’s not to say that I don’t think there are people who could find sex work enjoyable and rewarding.  But I think people are confused about what’s being implied when a man (or women) hires an escort.

Here’s an example.  If a man came up to me and told me he thought I was beautiful, sexy, whatever, and that he would pay money to sleep with me, if he could (let’s assume in a non-creepy manner) that’s one thing.  He’s simply saying that if he could, he would want me.  Let’s contrast that with the man who actually tries to buy sex from me.  The first guy is assuming my sexual activities aren’t on the market, it can’t be bought, it’s worth more than money.  The second guy thinks that if he gives me enough money, he can buy me.  Which scenario do you think would make you feel better about yourself?

But girls aren’t realizing this, instead, they’re getting more plastic surgery than ever before, developing more eating disorders, and consuming more alcohol.  That’s right, the number of girls who binge drink now surpasses the number of guys.  Tell me, where does that lead to happily ever after?

That brings back the question of where did feminism go?  What happened to the right to be valued for more than your face and body or abilities to have children and put dinner on the table?  Why is it that while girls are graduating from college than boys, that we still feel the need to sell our bodies to them?  Clearly, a woman no longer needs a man to support her.  Yet here we are.

Starting today, I challenge you to think about how people see you, and then ignore it.  What are you proud of that you’re accomplished?  What do you like most about yourself?  Figure that out, and rock it.  You’ll be happy.

you are the one that you want

image from SummerPierre

 


New Year, New Beginnings…

I know, I know, another cliche New Years post is probably not the best way to start off a brand new blog.  But recently, I’ve been feeling trapped in routine and monotony, despite the exciting things that have been going on in my life.  I’ve been struggling with confidence and loneliness recently, two things that I am determined to change this year.

My issues with confidence are complex, as I’m sure most are.  I know I’m an awesome, gorgeous person, exceptional in many areas.  But knowing in the abstract and feeling in the moment are completely different things.  I think the bulk of this problem stems from the constant push to compete, whether in school, music, or socially.  Some of these things have a clearly defined criteria for being “best,” but others are more subjective.  For instance, how do you determine which of two people is prettier?  Overall, you can’t really, because everybody is going to have a different opinion.  In things like this, it’s important to realize that just because other people are beautiful doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful.

The loneliness problem is all jumbled up in my head.  I have tons of good friends who I love to do things with, but sometimes I need alone time, which at the end leaves me feeling lonely.  I like to be surrounded by people, not quite the center of attention, but almost.  This past semester was really difficult as a number of people really close to me were far away.  Some of them will be much closer this coming semester, but they won’t be there forever, and it’s important to separate the need to physically interact with people and to communicate with people, the latter being much more important.

That’s all well and good, but why the need to post it on the internet, which is already filled with similar posts?  In hopes that taking time to do something purely for my own enjoyment will work to make me happy.  That creating something that other people might look to for advice or inspiration will go far in terms of addressing lingering confidence issues.  That being in contact with the entire world via the internet (although the entire world will probably never stumble on my little corner of the internet, it’s still there for anybody to see) will help me form connections.  And that by really looking at the problems that exist in my life, instead of burying them under something less challenging in the back of my mind, will help me better fix them.

Much love,

Allie Grace ❤


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