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I recently visited a church as part of a surprise for my fiance C’s grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. During the mass, (yes, I say mass because it was beat into me as a child that church time is mass- thanks Roman Catholicism) the pastor kept saying that the world is black and white, there is no grey area. I rolled my eyes (in my mind of course, as to not upset the fiery pastor from advancing on me and dousing me with holy water) and thought about how utterly untrue his words were. No grey area? Really? Sure, it’s easiest to explain the world in binaries, if you happen to leave out a good 80% of what is actually going on. His words flicked some sort of switch in my brain that wasn’t turned off until we reached the reception for cake. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much of a grey area I fit into.

I try to be a good person, whatever that means. However, I often end up being a bad person in the worst ways possible.

For example, I’m all about being green and saving the planet. I recycle glass, plastic, metal, and cardboard. I water the lawn sparingly. I reuse plastic bags and own about 40 re-usuable grocery bags which I use each time I go to the store. I try to avoid buying individually wrapped items, and I use up everything before I throw it away. I mulch lawn clippings and used to have a compost pile when I had the room for it in the yard. I also have a very small garden, in which I grow a multitude of my own fruits and vegetables without using harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides. I use up leftovers to make dinner rather than throwing them away. I open the windows in the fall, spring, and early summer rather than use the A/C, and wear layers instead of cranking up the heat in the winter. I turn off and unplug everything possible unless it’s in use. I use the energy saving modes on my electronic devices, and I even download music in order to cut back on wasted production materials (which I would have thrown away had I bought the CD). I don’t buy more than I need when I go to the grocery store, and I carpool or bike/walk whenever I can.

102 lb pumpkin grown in my little 5' x 5' garden

However, I also take incredibly long showers and I do not drive a hybrid or electric vehicle. When there wasn’t a place in town to recycle batteries I threw them away, and after finishing using toxic (and highly flammable) chemicals (such as wood stain and polyurethane) I didn’t know where to dispose of it (and was too lazy to find out) and also just threw them in the trash.

I’d like to think that these minor offenses aren’t doing much to harm the planet (especially compared to what BP has done as of late) and yet I can’t help but feel guilty about how horribly lazy and selfish I am for doing so, even in the smallest bit. Everyone is a little lazy when it comes to recycling and “being green,” and some far more lazy than others. I’m proud that I’m less lazy than most, but can’t hide from the fact that it’s this attitude of “it’s okay, it’s only a little bit” that has gotten the world into the mess it’s in now. I wish fixing things could be as easy as it was when I was a child. If only the world could be cleaned up during an afternoon of grounding…

Just a liiittle bit, every day, then, all clean! -Margaret Cho “Mommy Heart Attack”