By Catherine Moran
I’ve been thinking recently about challenges. It’s no surprise that life is full of unexpected (and expected) uphill battles. They can occur in our relationships, our careers, our physical bodies; you name the staging ground, there’s most likely a challenge that could play there. Living a greener lifestyle is definitely filled with challenges, as is any lifestyle change. Change is the operative word here: it’s a scary thing to contemplate.
I was trying to think about what the first change was that made my lifestyle a bit greener, and other than an L.L. Bean backpack that I had throughout grade school (no need to buy a new one every year!), I think the first item that began my transition to less stuff was my iPod. Now, I’m not singing the praises of Apple here, because their use of planned obsolescence maddens me to no end. But mp3 players, in general, are a step forward.
For the purpose of these ruminations, I am not discussing all of the resources used to construct a music-playing device, or how ethically or environmentally-sourced these materials are (topics for another time, methinks). So, back to the iPod. I’ve talked about my first iPod before, but not how it changed my life.
I’m a big music fan. Okay, huge music fan. I’m lucky enough to work in an office that allows me to have headphones in all day (you’ll be hard-pressed to find me listening to anything but Spotify, music junkie that I am), and teaching yoga on weekends allows me to share music with students. I’d always loved music, but when Napster became the Big Thing, I really went to town on a search for new, unheard-of artists.
My CDs went with me everywhere. Choosing just five to fit in the Snapple carrying case I’d won in a giveaway was an agonizing process. When I went to college, I left with a larger carrying case, one that fit up to 500 CDs (without cases). I would tote this case between college and home for every visit (did I mention it was nearly full?)
I had no problem carrying around hundreds of CDs. My family, on the other hand….well, let’s just say they were wiser than I. I accepted the iPod with reluctance (I know this might sound mildly spoiled of me, but I liked the way I was doing things; it took me ages to come around to Spotify, which is my preferred service for music listening these days, though my iPod is still much beloved). It took some time, but I eventually fell for my iPod, and it traveled (and still travels) with me everywhere. I have so much music at my fingertips that it is thrilling, and I refuse to travel further than a subway ride without music. I’m able to carry more than 500 CD’s worth of music at one time, and it weighs so very little.
Change is hard for many of us, even if the change we are making is a change for the better (add a few letters to the word change, you’ll get challenge). Even after making a conscious effort to go greener, I find myself stumbling. I can’t avoid all plastic packaging, especially when all I want for dinner are some Buffalo Chik’n pieces, or when I forget my travel mug at the coffee shop (this post from Beth Terry is great on Guilt and the Green Lifestyle). And, sometimes, there are changes that I could make, but either run out of time (i.e. making my own almond milk, which just requires advanced planning, which I don’t always make time for), or am just not inclined to try (like forgoing shampoo and its friend, plastic packaging – yes, it’s a movement).
The best we can do is take it one step at a time, and do what we can. And who knows how something we do today will affect us in future? If I hadn’t received that iPod, it’s not hard for me to imagine myself still rockin’ the CD player and lugging around a lot of CDs, instead of using digital downloads, and wanting only digital downloads for my music and movie/television purchases nowadays. We don’t have to do everything all at once, and we don’t have to do “everything,” either. Small changes may not change the world at large, but they’ll change the world around us, and if that translates to something larger, great, but making a change that betters ourselves and the planet, even a bit, means we’re doing well.
Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.