Thursday, 2 April 2009

Oh the memories: Part 3 - Eco Warrior? Moi?

Remember this little introduction?

"So, why have I set up a blog? I enjoy writing about things that are important to me as well as those that may be of interest to others. Also for me, Zero Waste Week is not about the week itself, but the effort over the next seven weeks to really try and reduce the amount of waste created by my family and stick to it thereafter. Therefore this will act as a very useful diary of our progress. Despite my enthusiasm, you won't find any holier than thou attitude on this blog. There are so many people out there who are much holier than me, which is why I am just your Mrs Average (well almost)."

That statement is an extract from my second blog post, where I introduced myself right at the very start of this blog, completely incognito as Almost Mrs Average.

Yep. That's me.

And 15 months later. It's still all true.

I'm still pretty much average. Honest.

However in the months and the year that has followed, I've been labelled green, been called an eco-warrior and - probably the most memorable of them all - I've been referred to live on the radio as a bunny-loving tree-hugger.

And even more recently someone said to me"you're just one of them".

What was that all about?

Stereotypes eh!

Don't you just love 'em!

We know where we are with stereotypes don't we?

Or do we?

You see behind the blog and the fun that The Rubbish Diet has brought with its bizarre zero waste challenge, the issue of being categorised and put in a box has been at the forefront of my mind all along the way.

And it's certainly no accident that my nom de plume has been Almost Mrs Average right from the very start.

You see, I'd never considered myself to be green just simply a kind, considerate and traditional old girl who just wants to protect and nurture my family - but with a prior penchant for high consumerist living.

And before I started this blog, the idea of being green always represented either a political party or - and please don't shout at me - folk dressed in tie-died clothing detached from "normal" society and living in yurts whilst on a break from demonstrations.

I know, I know. I feel ashamed to admit it myself. Especially thinking back to a time in December when I broke down in tears as I emerged from the shower one morning. I'd been pondering the climate change conference at which I'd spoken the previous day and the strong messages from the environmental speakers were pressing hard on my mind.

As I towel-dried my hair I began to sob, almost uncontrollably.

And then the words came, pouring out from my tear ridden scrunched-up face, in a way which meant there was no going back.

"I think I'm turning green," I cried to Mr A, then lay on the bed all motionless, overwhelmed by the emotion that had disabled my physical being.

"There there" he said quite calmly "It'll do us good to have our very own eco-warrior in the house."

And that was that. Even my husband thought I was an eco-warrior.

Then when I retold the story, my best friend gave me a hug.

"Well it's about time you admitted it," she said in a manner that implied she'd known all along.

But an "eco-warrior"?


Blimmin' 'eck. What a responsibility eh. Do people really think that of me?

But stop for a moment and let's just slow this thing down. Especially as this looks like just another round of stereotyping in action, when the truth is I'm just a regular housewife who set up a blog about a zero waste week and who was amazed at how easy it was for an average family to reduce and take control over the amount of rubbish that is thrown away. And having discovered the urgency of the environmental message associated with rubbish, I've simply felt inspired to tell the tale.

So am I truly green?

If so how green am I?

Light green or dark?

And what are my credentials? I still sometimes drive my car while my bike is hidden in the garage because of convenience and lack of time - not to mention the bloody big hill. There are also days that I get caught out, when I have no intention of going shopping but end up buying something out of the blue and have to walk away with an odd plastic bag. It's a rare occasion but it happens because that's life.

Then I have to question whether that one particular action wipes out all my previous good work.

So perhaps it's not stereotypes and personal assumptions that make me fearful of my conversion to a greener path. Maybe it's actually the fear of my inability to achieve the holy green grail.

They used to say that cleanliness is next to godliness but today it appears to be green not clean that proffers the moral high ground.

Being green eh! Who would have guessed that something with such honorable intentions could cause so much angst. And am I the only one who has such issues?

I really don't think so. I know people who are most definitely prejudiced against absolutely anything with an eco-friendly tag and are all too happy to rebel against any green suggestions that are thrown in their direction, yet left to their own devices they naturally make sustainable choices just through being sensible.

Perhaps such actions are driven by guilt, uncertainty, misunderstanding or even downright ignorance or defiance. Who knows. It might even be down to the fear of being labelled green.

I'm no psychologist, so I daren't hazard a guess on such matters and I detest the idea of patronising others or indeed judging other people's circumstances so I won't go there either.

But what I do know is that it's time to grow up and come to terms with ditching the stereotype that represents the green image.

It's no longer about politics, ideologies and treehugging. The green landscape is changing and is gradually being occupied by ordinary average people who have their role to play alongside the scientists, environmentalists and activists whom have forged ahead to get this far and have done an admirable job in pushing the agenda .

Amongst the new kids on the block some may be concerned about climate change and the environment and others worried about poverty for themselves or for others, while the rest follow their survival instinct based on the understanding that to protect themselves and their future generations they need to respect the earth's resources and live more wisely.

But the one thing that all these people have in common is acknowledgement that transition has to take place somehow as well as the recognition that everyone can play their part no matter how small.

I think I've played my part and if my adventures with my bin have made me green, so be it.

And if by telling my story and helping others makes me an eco-warrior, I accept that too.

Indeed I am now proud to accept such labels for what my contribution is worth.

But I still insist that I am just an average mother, enjoying an average lifestyle, in an average family home.

And guess what! Most of the people who I have come across on this journey are pretty average too.

So for all the nay-sayers and deniers who call me "one of them" and "a bunny loving tree hugger" the truth of the matter is I am still like you as are most of my friends - even my dark green ones. The only difference is that these days I choose to create less rubbish and buy less crap. And the best bit is it feels really good. I no longer suffer the guilt that I should be doing something for the environment because I actually know that in my own way I've made a significant change, which when I look back I recognise it was a very gradual and relatively easy step to embrace. And I'm glad of the help and the friendships that I discovered along the way.

But I still don't feel holier than thou and I certainly won't be found preaching. Goodness no. That would be against my principles.

My enthusiasm is what it is, just plain and simple enthusiasm, based on the knowledge and respect that what has worked for my family might not necessarily work for others. The Rubbish Diet and its zero waste challenge is not for everyone.

But I will always add just one small but cheeky addendum and that'll never know unless you try.

So if you haven't done already, why don't you give it a go.

And if you don't like the colour green, why don't you just stuff the bloody stereotype! After all that's so last century.

Just pick your favourite colour, the one that makes you feel most comfortable and wear that instead.

Now having got all that off my chest, the only thing left is to raise a glass and offer a toast to all those who are doing their bit for transition as well as the folk who want to have a go themselves, including those who don't know where to start.

And now with that out of the way, I'm off to celebrate the good times that the last 15 months have brought.

Yes - indeed I'm off to hug a tree!

Oh my word - my apologies. I forgot April Fool's Day is over.

Anyway, why shouldn't I.

However the truth is I'm actually off to cook dinner and finish the bottle of Chablis I opened yesterday.

And if I'm not suffering from a hangover in the morrow, I might just come back and let you know what I've been up to and the excitement that lies ahead in the almost average life of Almost Mrs Average and all her good friends.

Let the adventures continue I say, particularly if it involves rubbish. And on that very subject...anyone remember this little cartoon?............ Look at that nice slim bin. Oh stuff the Chablis - where's that champagne?

The Rubbish Diet, by the fabulous illustrator Ray Smith.
If you've been inspired to slim your bin, please feel free to share on your blog.



John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

I am constantly asked about my opinions of green issues by antis.

My view is that Zero Waste is not a fringe group effort but a mainstream trend for everybody, worldwide. That is why it has such great potential.

Ecover is a good example. They are green but also have features which are Zero Waste (refillable systems). The point is Ecover can become mainstream because of its connection to Zero Waste. I hope this happens.


You're right John and for it to take hold with the average consumer like me, there has to be a starting point with motivation. For me it was having too much rubbish to deal with and wanting to do something about it. For others it is for reasons of thrift or for a passion for the environment. But it doesn't matter what the reason is, the fact is there's a huge market out there for like-minded companies to help and like Ecover's refillable systems it will be positive change. :-D

Karin said...

Well, Karen, you aren't pale green, but you aren't the darkest green, either. I don't think you have a composting loo, and probably not a wood-burning stove, which seems a must have for some greens. I hasten to add, we don't have either, nor have plans to acquire them, although I wouldn't be totally against a wood-burning stove.

However, with your chicken keeping and plans to grow veg, you are definitely becoming a darker shade of green, or turquoise, or whatever colour you find most environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Keep up the good work. I've been too busy to blog this last week, but I've been busy in the garden recently and hope to post some pictures up over Easter if I don't manage it before.

Tracey Smith said...

Hey dear girl,

What a deep and meaningful post ce soir!

So much said, so much between the lines too.

Just stay like the arrow and stuff the onlookers...!

Sending all my love my chum with an ethical conscience....

TS x x

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

As we both know, 'being green' is simply having a concern for this wonderful world and for what our children and grand children will inherit from our generation.

You certainly have that concern.

I was called a 'Bleeding hearted tree hugging environmentalist' once, quite a compliment!


LOL - Hi turquoise has to be one of my favourite colours :-D
Can't wait to see more photos of your garden. Will pop over to your blog and have a nosey when the Easter hols have whizzed by. I know what you mean about being busy...I'd hoped to get another blog post up today but it was our headteacher's leaving assembly, so I've been caught up with all of that. Quite an emotional day all in all. Anyway - thanks for understanding this old bird, looks like more people have understood me that I ever understood myself. Am so glad I eventually caught up :-D

Hi Tracey - LOL you are a great chum and I'd just like to properly thank you for being a leading light in the right direction. Excuse my moments of madness, but I've got a feeling that I've taken the right fork in the road. :-D

LOL Peter - "Bleeding hearted tree hugging environmentalist" - that's beautiful. Thanks for all your wise words and for helping me along the way and for summing up in a nutshell what really makes me tick. I wish I could have done it as succinctly myself and sooner rather than later would have helped too LOL :-D

Folks I promise I'll be back very soon with the update that I'd planned. I'm afraid today's events as a governor of our local school have kept me very busy indeed. Thanks as ever for looking in an keeping me company. Mrs A x

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

In the words of Kermit the Frog "It's not easy being green". I think green is the best colour to be Mrs A - it goes with everything. Whatever you do stay true to yourself - it's the only way and anyway I think you are doing a fabulous job. A x


Thanks Anne - just dropped in from a busy start to the Easter Hols and saw your message. And you're right. Green does go with everything. Especially pink :-D

And as for staying true to yourself. I couldn't agree more. And I feel so happier for doing so.

P.S. Hope your computer gets sorted out soon.

Right, better go and pick up those lovely boys from their quick playdate and go and get on with the play :-D xxx

Andy said...

Whatever colour you like keep up the good work!

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