I just read an article by Paige Doughty on CommonDreams.org, called "To Flush or not to Flush? Battling the Social Stigmas of Environmental Action in the City." Paige sometimes feels embarrassed by her earth friendly habits, including bike commuting to work and not flushing the toilet every time she uses it. Here's an excerpt from the beginning or the story:
When I reach the top of the hill my back is slick with sweat and my head is so hot that my cheeks will be red for an hour. I am sweating and freezing at the same time.
In the bathroom of my workplace I strip off my clothes. There are no shower facilities, but I have packed a towel to pat the sweat from my torso. In the mirror I see that my hair is a helmet shaped bowl and that my ear warming head band has left a line across the middle of my forehead.
I laugh at my reflection and wave air under my armpits one last time; this is not exactly how I pictured myself on the first day of work, but at least I made it up that hill alive.
It is a wonderful and trying thing to understand that the actions you take in your daily life make a difference.
"You rode your bike?" A co-worker exclaims when she sees the helmet in my hands. "you're crazy!" I smile and nod, yes, perhaps a little. But as I was passing the lines of cars stuck in traffic on Concord Avenue , I have to admit I smirked.
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And here is Paige's conclusion:
In the face of global warming, and all the dire predictions that go along with it these actions may seem small. Believe me there are plenty of days when I would like to swallow the "my actions are insignificant, I am only one person" argument. Getting in a car and driving to work would be much easier than loading myself down with cold weather gear, a change of clothes, coffee mug, and everything else I need for the day, but when I stop and ponder the decision for a moment, I k now what choice I will make.
Individual actions are one of the best ways we have to make immediate change. Change at the legislative level takes too much time and even if there is a miracle in Washington, and the government suddenly passes radical legislation on the environment, all the habits of daily life will still be calling us to act in socially acceptable and environmentally destructive ways. So, for a more sustainable future for all: Dare to be different. Don't flush.