So far…well, not so good

November 8, 2007 at 4:22 am Leave a comment

Hey guys,

We haven’t been introduced. I’m Olga. I signed up to be no-impact this week. And I’m failing miserably.

Let me back up a little bit. The beginning of the week, for me, was Colin Beavan’s talk last Sunday afternoon. I don’t really know what I was expecting, and I don’t really know what I was thinking signing up for such a commitment and then thinking it would just happen all on its own.

The disappointing–kind of shocking–part was that it didn’t. Hasn’t. Colin’s talk, which I guess I just expected to be inspiring and empowering by default, wasn’t, to me. We covered so many issues–the soon-to-be-depleted oceans, the landfills that don’t allow biodegradable waste to biodegrade, the deplorable statistics of food waste, the disastrous effects of methane, the unavoidable damage to the environment even when purchasing wind power…you can see it was a little overwhelming. When faced with such a barrage of crises, all happening simultaneously, globally, and apparently inevitably, what can one person’s actions possibly do?

Of course, this is a topic that Colin addressed as well: changing individual habits was one of the three steps that he talked about, along with changing political and economic actions (right? I might be mixing stuff up here). Nonetheless, I left the meeting depressed, stressed out, and feeling completely helpless in the face of the world’s impending ecological breakdown.

Before I move on to greener pastures (yes, pun intended, and I’m sorry), there’s another thing I want to mention, and it’s maybe a catalyst, maybe a hindrance to “going green”: guilt. As Colin mentioned, it is an indication that we already know we’re doing something we shouldn’t be when we feel guilty about the disposable coffee cups, the unrecycled soda bottle, the television and computer and air conditioner all on at once. Over the past few days, this guilt has made it difficult for me to focus on what’s important–lowering my impact–by barging in on every thought even remotely related to the environment and my part in it. Instead of addressing the issue straight-on, it’s easier to shove it to the edge of my conscience until I’m better equipped to deal with it.

But–and here’s the immediate, important, difficult issue–when will that be? Will I (we) ever be fully ready to take responsibility for our environmental impact? And not just mental responsibility–acknowledging the extent of the problem–but actual, active responsibility? I don’t think that can happen through thinking. The bottom line (and this is for my own benefit as much as anyone’s) is that action is necessary. Talking about it is the icing.

So this week so far, for me, has been baby steps (like, infant). I brought my own coffee cup with me this morning. I took the stairs. I turned off our air conditioner (in winter, I know–because the building keeps the temperature so high that it’s stifling in our room) and opened a window. It’s nothing monumental (see: Adam’s trash logging, for example). I still feel guilty. I’m still making an impact. I don’t even really know how hard I’m trying–whether my guilt-induced impact reduction has been intentional or simply incidental. But I can tell you now that I want to be better at this, and it’s obviously not happening on its own.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll be back–you guys are inspiring.

Olga ( or


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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