Confessions of a Temporarily Trashy Eco Sinner
I like to do my ecological part. I’m no eco-goddess, mind you. I don’t necessarily research the recycled packaging content of my bagged flour purchases, nor have much of a care whether the fabric in my T-shirt is organically grown. But my husband and I each implement more than our fair share of active, conscientious strategies to support the well being of the world we live in. This month however, a situation arose which will impact several of those efforts, at least for the short term.
An antiquated and, as of this month, “interactive” septic system. The septic is in fact so antiquated, and the ground so thoroughly frozen, there is absolutely nothing than can be done about it until spring. At which time, the discovery of its location (nobody seems to have a record) will require such digging and mucking around with heavy equipment that it is truly not financially worth it to redirect funds that could go into the new house. Until we can research an interim option, we are stuck with the bucket brigade in sub zero temperatures.
My reaction, as you can imagine, was an immediate and profound “oh sh*t”. After which, my mind clicked into problem solving gear. With a situation that could become big time toxic in a big time hurry, I knew I had to move fast. This put me into an immediate quandary. While I’ve comfortably settled into a routine of thrifty green alternatives for daily use, my strategy repertoire for completely obnoxious messes (I think poop qualifies) included nothing but convenience items and harsh chemicals. As I saw it, there were no other options. I felt I was either stuck with the mess, or stuck going back to practices and products I had worked hard to eliminate.
This hit me like a ton of bricks. Comments from my participation in Linsey’s clean and trashy article, Nora’s green savings piece, and several of my other posts on green savings, were there for posterity, mocking me. Was I only up for being green when it suited me? When it was easy?
In the end, I caved.
Several reasons, not the least of which was a moderate amount of convenience. For those who caught my first comment on Julie’s endurance frugality post, I meant what I said to a greater degree than was expressed at the time. I really needed her post that day. It was the right “pick me up” at the right time. As soon as I read her article, my tears changed from ones of frustration to tears of relief. I knew then that I could overcome this. I don’t think I break easily, but on that particular day, I was the closest I’ve been in a long time to just giving up and hopping on a plane to Tahiti.
Speed and the perception of extra sanitation were high on my list.
With the cabin’s water pressure and wait time for using cloths (There’s no dryer, not to mention the yuck factor.) and not knowing just how strong my green solutions were for killing germs, I wanted there to be absolutely no question about cleanliness when we were finally finished with this task.
Trust me, when you are up to your shoulders in a sewage filled toilet and trying hard not to lose that morning’s blueberry bran muffin in your face mask (No, I was not successful), you want the job to be done properly at the end. If that means a few rolls of paper towels have to be sacrificed, so freaking be it.
Why do I know I’ll go back to the green side?
The knee jerk.
For starters, my emotional reaction to seeing the stack of products dominating our limited living space was startling. The amount of space that was taken up for solving just this one issue, and knowing it would all end up in a landfill knocked me for a loop. If I had been having doubts as to the impact giving up most of these products altogether was having, those doubts were certainly eliminated. Good grief, what a pile of stuff.
The physical response.
I’m no doctor or environmental expert, but within a few hours of introducing a large concentration of harsh cleaners back into my immediate habitat, I was coughing up a storm. I suppose I could conduct a fair and detailed scientific experiment to verify the cause, but truly, I don’t feel the need. This pile of chemicals was the only new situation.
The line item cost.
Being a fair distance to purchasing options, I was in no mood to screw around with uncertainty. If there was something I saw at the store I thought would help with the situation, it went into the cart. Nearly a hundred dollars worth of outlay . . . no joke.
The evidence has mounted.
Basically, with a large pile of product truth staring me right in the face, it was hard to deny the impact just one two-person family can have by making a few adjustments to the basic home cleaning routine. I felt completely reaffirmed in the decisions we’ve made over the years to eliminate, reduce and substitute many of these items and practices.
The silver lining?
I must admit, it was pretty hard to find. But here it is: Working through this major septic debacle has not only reaffirmed a belief in the steps I’m taking, it’s also sped up some research I’ve been meaning to do on various green alternatives for products and infrastructure. I’ve learned in the initial stages of this research that there are several alternatives on the market that are convenient, eco-friendly and strong enough to get the job done in spades.
So look for loads of product reviews and topic intros in the near future, including several potentially hilarious pieces such as How Green is Your Toilet, The Complete Poop on Composting Toilets, Green for Girls: A Feminine Perspective, and How to Take a Bath in a Bucket. Got any hot eco topics you want the poop on? Pop me a comment, and I’ll do my best to accommodate you!