Tempering the salt & spice

In this blog, I have always had a mix of tones. Some of the posts are what I would call salty or spicy. Recently, though, I have been reconsidering my approach. The fact is that most people care about the environment, and harsh words are not going to help.

A lot of our consumption is emotionally motivated, and that merits kindness and understanding rather than a judgmental tone. So I will probably be going back and, over time, tempering the salty posts as they occur to me.

In the meantime, if you encounter a post that feels harsh or otherwise unhelpful, you are always welcome to get in touch with me and I will provide you with a more user-friendly nugget of advice, assistance, and/or encouragement.

It’s a given that we all care about the environment here. And I am here to help. The fact is that it can be very very hard to make ethical choices in a hyper-consumerist industrial society.

It can also be hard to voluntarily choose to do without something, if you have the money to obtain that thing, and the thing is satisfying some deep emotional need. Having multiple houses; flying a lot — it’s easy for me to judge, but the fact is that circumstances in this society have played out in such a manner that, for example, people live a long distance away from their families. And if they have the money to fly across the continent to a brunch or a graduation ceremony, or to own multiple houses in multiple countries, they are not likely to forgo that unless they have a better way to meet the underlying emotional need. I’m here to help people (including myself) identify our root emotional needs, and find gentler and more sustainable ways to meet them.

And of course, there are physical needs too. For example, if I’m away from home and I need to drink some water or get something to eat, and the only options available are packaged and single-use plastic. Or, if I need to get from point A to point B, and the built environment and transportation infrastructure are hostile to pedestrians or anyone else not in a car.

If you’re like most of us, being berated isn’t going to help; we’re already beating ourselves up over it, and I suspect I’m not the only one who has at least on occasion skipped a meal or done without water rather than taking on single-use plastic.

But, if somebody points out that there’s a nearby shop that sells sandwiches wrapped in paper; or tells you that the minimart over there allows you to refill your own reusable cup, then that is going to help!

Same with transportation options. Maybe there’s a nicely tree-shaded street parallel to the pedestrian-hostile one I’m trying to walk on. Or maybe there is a trolley or bus route I didn’t know about.

(Note: When I say “people” here, I am referring to fellow eco-minded citizens. This blog, and my book, are not attempting to change the mind-sets and behaviors of people who are not concerned about biospheric collapse.)

As I’ve mentioned earlier, choosing a low-footprint life is a strictly voluntary task — no one can force it on you — and a lot of it involves internal “marketing” within ourselves. Behavioral economics!

PS. I truly have a deep abiding love for snarky humor. But I’ve realized it needs to be channeled in a way that is aligned with a higher purpose. Fortunately, in addition to being a sustainability educator, I am also a fiction writer (under a pseudonym). So I allow some of my fiction characters to be snarky. The only catch is that the characters have to evolve by the end of the story, and become more sensitive and empathetic.