Invite me to your party. I’ll be the one who heads straight into your kitchen, opens the cupboard, and takes out a glass to use instead of plastic. I’ll rummage through your drawers for reusable silverware. Or I’ll take out the little bamboo set I carry in my purse. Your guests will find me charming.
Bring me homemade Christmas cookies in a plastic bag, and I’ll dump them out into another container and thrust your bag back at you, making you swear to reuse it. You’ll thank me for pointing out your mistake.
Or leave me treats in a plastic Ziploc bag on my desk chair at work, and I’ll regift them to a co-worker instead of bringing them home. Maybe you’ll never find out unless you see the link to this post on Facebook.
Arrive at my parents’ house with an abundance of groceries to cook a holiday dinner, and watch how I thank you by taking pictures of all your plastic bags and containers and posting them on my blog.
Threaten to mail me a Christmas present, and listen to me go off in a scenario that might (purely hypothetically) go something like this:
Dad: I forgot to get to the post office to send you and your brother your gifts.
Me: Dad! Don’t send me anything!
Dad: Why? You want me to wait and give it to you when you come to visit?
Me: No! Don’t give me anything. Why? What did you get me? Is there plastic in it?
Dad: It’s books. But forget it.
Me: Anyway, I didn’t get anything for you.
Dad: Screw you. Don’t come visit.
Me: My visit IS your gift.
I’m fun. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with me? But seriously, there’s a balance, you know? A balance between being a dick about things wrapped in plastic, to paraphrase Colin Beavan in the No Impact Movie, and a kind person who appreciates the efforts people make to connect and share. There’s the me that is hesitant to hurt my friends’ feelings and then there’s the me that thinks, “Come on people. I’ve been doing this for over three years. I really, really, really don’t want your freakin’ plastic!”
It’s Christmas Eve. I wish I had a nicer post to write. I just got back from a friend’s party, and it was great. She had all reusables and cloth bandana napkins and there was barely any plastic in sight. And yet, as always, I was on guard, just in case. How I sometimes wish for the old days when I could go to a party and just have mindless fun with my friends, not thinking or caring about our capital “I” Impact. How I wish I could be excited when my dad tells me he’s sending me a gift, or feel the thrill of sending him something without worrying about how it will be packaged.
Those mindless days are over. I can’t go back to not knowing about how my actions affect the planet. But WE are the planet. And what does it matter if I save a few plastic cups and alienate everyone I know? How does that help the planet in the long run? This is not a new topic. I’ve written about it before and will probably keep wrestling with the balance between environmental convictions and personal relationships for the rest of my life.
It’s a few days after the solstice. The days are short, and the lack of sunlight puts me in a brooding mood. Sometimes I wonder if I’d like Christmas better if it came in July instead of December. But then I remember that the whole point of Christmas is celebrating the birth of the light. We’re coming out of the darkness. I’m excited and freaked out by the plans and challenges coming up in 2011 and by how much more there is for me to learn and share. If I’m a pain in your butt, it’s nothing personal. Just the growing pains of a being who’s not yet fully formed. A work in progress… as are you. Right?