Monday, July 14, 2008

So Why the Guilt?

This book is called the guilty environmentalist because it discusses the guilt associate with certain activities once faced with the wisdom that there is another, more eco-friendly way. Not only will we now know what is wrong with our products and activities, we will now be plagued with guilt when we ignore our knowledge. I used to be blissfully ignorant of my ways. Having chosen a socially responsible major of civil and environmental engineering, I was confronted with what I call my "shift in paradigm". The more knowledge about the environment my brain uploaded, the more guilty I felt about things I now knew were wrong.

How can you be guilty about health and beauty products? As discussed in the chapter on Personal Care Products, we will explore the guilt at buying cosmetics with parabens and fragrances. What kinds of guilt are associated with food? We will discuss pesticides, transport and waste associated with food. By interviewing experts in specific fields about what they do to be more eco-friendly since their "shift in paradigm", we will learn from them easy ways to be more green. We will also learn their guilty pleasures that they are working toward changing.

What is my guilty pleasure you ask? Every morning I am confronted with my guilty moment that drives me to write this book. A product of an American upbringing, my guilty pleasure is taking a shower every morning.

As the perfectly warmed water pours down my face, past my body and down the drain, I am reminded of the miracle that brings this water to me and takes it away to become someone else's shower. The droplets that fall from my eye lashes have traveled from the clouds, through the landscape, to the reservoir, through the water filtration system, into the pipes, through the pump, into the water tank, through more pipes and pumps, into my hot water heater, up to my shower, over me, to the drain, to the sanitary sewer, to the water treatment plant, to the river, to the ocean, and back to the clouds. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense Web site <>, letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.

To appease my guilt, I have been experimenting with methods to minimize my showering water waste. Recently, a five minute water saving device, made its way onto my shower door. It is actually just a five-minute hourglass sand timer, inserted into a plastic casing that you can rotate at the beginning of the shower and race to finish before the sand runs out. Unfortunately, you can close your eyes and forget about the timer. I guess I need one with a buzzer.

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