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Our eco-efforts examined 2 - eco regrets

The last post was about the SKTL Board's big badges of honor in support of the environment. I apologize that this post won't be all sunshine and rainbows, but instead will be more like heat domes and forest fires.

A cup of coffee with a heart in the foam
Credit: Coffee Love by javaturtle

Thanks to how interconnected the world has become, it's pretty much impossible to avoid averse effects on Mother Earth when buying goods. Think about how that cute mug in your cupboard got there. Whether or not you bought it from the store in some kind of packaging, it was once part of a pallet, boxed up and wrapped in non-recycled plastic, glug-glug-putt-putting its way across the Pacific on a ship. This is of course after the ceramics were mined and processed, belching plumes of smoke into the air while doing so. Businesses far above our heads have long ago decided this is the way to do things cheaply, and it's impractical to start making our own goods.

If you're reading this and have borrowed a tool instead of buying it, opted to grow your own vegetables or attended one of our Repair Cafes (the next of which is Saturday, 10/9) to extend the life of something useful, you're already making positive choices and shrinking your participation in this complex modern supply chain. Nevertheless, we thought it was a good idea for SKTL to take stock of our Eco Guilts and Regrets.


the tip of an airplane wing

Adelia B. - My eco-guilt is travel. Flying in jet fuel consuming airplanes and being on old, large boats. I can hear the two diesel burning 3608 cats purring away under me as I type this. I was just taking the ship through the locks and could clearly see the black smoke I created coming out of the smoke stack. In order to see some of the prettiest/coolest places on earth, we need to burn some fossil fuel to get there.

A tiny cardboard box inside of a larger shipping box with packing

Jeanette J. - My two main eco-guilts are air travel and individual packaging. My sister lives in Hawaii and my brother lives in the opposite direction, so it pains me a little every time I fly because of the carbon footprint. Since I have little children, I sometimes purchase proportioned snack items. The packaging is very wasteful, but it is convenient, portioned for them, and it reduced food waste by food staying fresh and not spilling. At least this is how I rationalize it…

Amye B-D. - I prefer longer, hot showers, but worry about what how long it takes for things like cleaners and shampoo to break down after they go down the drain. On a similar note about water, I have recently cut back on almond products, as they are grown with an obscene amount of water. It's estimated that a single almond calls for 1.1 gallons of water, while a strawberry is 0.4 gal and a tomato is 3.3.

A used keurig cup with a punctured top

Mark S. - I drove my car around for the last 1.5 years with a misfiring engine cylinder, which means I was burning extra chemicals every time I drove, in addition to some leaks. Also, I work at a large employer and with COVID and avoidance of germs, we use a huge amount of disposable masks, bottled water, and K-cups for coffee.

A single bell pepper in plastic-wrapped tray
Credit: Really? by Beaulawrence

Amanda M. - My most selfish and wasteful habit right now is a subscription to Hello Fresh, a meal prep service. Feeding a family of 5 every night is exhausting, and frankly we still don’t feel safe to eat at a restaurant. Plus the lockdown really made us sick of local takeout and eating the same things that we normally cook. So Hello Fresh lets us try new recipes, choose kid friendly and dietary friendly meals, and they send you all of the ingredients to make it happen! The problem is the packaging. Spices, sour cream, stock concentrate and other elements come in individual serving sizes and only on occasion in recyclable glass or paper containers. I do my best to include the plastic in my plastic film and bag recycle when I drop off at the grocery store, but some recipes generate more waste than others. The positives of this are removing a level of stress and planning from my day and reducing our food waste by only getting exactly what is needed for each recipe. I will add that we usually only subscribe when there is a deal making our families meals less than takeout at $25-45 a night for a family of 5, so $4-9 per plate. So it saves our family from unhealthy takeout options or convenient fast food.

A single chimney belching smoke

Kathryn D. - I have maybe more anxiety than guilt, about when I start thinking, "All the big corporations and overseas unregulated manufacturing are the ones doing the real polluting - how is me taking my plastic bags back to the store really going to help the big picture? Especially when I hear that a lot of our recycling efforts are ending up as trash anyway." I also think, "Why is there all this effort to get all the individuals to stop using straws when I'm seeing legislation that allows manufacturers leniency in polluting?" So, you know, existential dread and all that.


Kathryn's comment segues perfectly into how necessary it is to beat ourselves up over our failures as environmental stewards, which is discussed and delightedly animated by Kurzgesagt.


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