Joshua Gordon

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Guelph, Ontario, Canada
I live in Guelph - an artsy, tree hugging university town in Ontario. I work hard to be a creative and innovative influence in the places I find myself. Most of the time that looks like networking with other creatives, researching, or filling up my sketchbook / journal with ideas.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dear BurlingtonGreen...

Dear BurlingtonGreen,

My name is Josh and I have a confession to make. I think I'm a fraud. I'm not completely sure, but I probably shouldn't be allowed to volunteer for an environmental community group such as yourself. I'm pretty sure I don't have what it takes, and when I get down to really thinking about it, I'm not even sure I want to.

Granted, when I first contemplated the whole “sustainability/environmentalism” movement a few years ago, I was fascinated – couldn't take my mind off it. Suddenly, everywhere I looked, I saw friends buying locally grown organic food, or boycotting certain clothing companies. Some people even went vegetarian. I watched from a distance with rapt attention. In the face of what were certainly sweeping life changes, I was horrified and inexplicably intrigued rolled together into one mess of confusing emotion. I couldn't look away; my captivation was eerily similar to the feeling you get at the 'bats' exhibit at your local museum or while watching PlanetEarth footage of a killer whale hunting seals.

The more I thought about it, though, the more impressed I became. My friends' devotion to 'living green' was both inspiring and contagious. I decided to give it a shot. My wife and I started buying from a local organic market, began to aggressively recycle, evangelize our other 'unbelieving' friends, and in a moment of heady fervour, I somehow concluded that I should try vegetarianism. That's where the downhill slide began.

I'm just going to be blunt about what happened next. I took on way too much way too soon. I hated not eating meat, and contemplating the onset of the summer barbecue season with the knowledge I could not participate ferociously eroded my resolve. Next, I started to hate not being allowed to buy coffee from Starbucks. I resented not being allowed to buy clothes that I liked because of where they came from. I hated having to pay almost double the price for locally grown food. I hated being 'green' because to me, being green meant depriving myself of stuff I liked – or paying hand over fist for its 'green' equivalent.

I'm acknowledge that this isn't exactly something you brag about, but today now that the smoke's cleared, I've only got a fraction of the motivation that I once had. That's my confession. I've lost my edge.

I wish I didn't struggle like this, I wish I the fortitude to stick with the 'sustainable' lifestyle. I wish I was doing my part. Instead, here I am, back at what feels like square one.

I'm sorry, BurlingtonGreen, but I can only take on one small lifechange at a time. Past experience dictates that I re-learn what it means to live an environmentally responsible life. I'm back in the proverbial saddle, it's true, but it's one baby step at a time for me. I'll probably never become an 'environmental warrior-machine' but please know I truly want to do my part to leave a better world for my kids. Just be patient with me.

Oh, and thanks. Thanks for walking me through this.


Josh Gordon


malexis said...

Yeah, I here that brother. I'm sustainable+ (aka: sustainable-plus... has anybody coined that yet?) but unfortunately our efforts don't change the world - if anyone can make a difference it's companies and governments ~ you should write them a letter and tell them to get on with it already.

shawn and sara said...

Yesterday (before I read your blog) I was thinking that I did all of us a disservice by attempting to be so hard core. I felt remorse at pressuring different friends (especially you two) toward the lifestyle. Shawn always said that if we care about sustainability for the earth, then our green choices needed to be sustainable in our lives. I have seriously pulled back myself, because I know that no matter how much I think I'm doing I will ALWAYS be part of the problem. Said realization doesn't stop me from trying, but it makes me way more humble about it and I don't attempt to convert people anymore. I was remiss.

Joshua Gordon said...

I really like what you said about our choices having to be sustainable in our lives, Sara. What I realized is that the choices that I made were a hasty and not very well thought through.

While I've shed the vegetarian thing, and I allow myself to indulge in a 140 degree tall caramel machiato every couple weeks, I still recycle, drink soy milk most of the time, re-use old items, and support local farmers. I'm really glad for the influences I've had in my life in the past year. I'm a whole lot greener now than I used to be...

kate said...

Hi there Josh! I suppose you can tell how much I adore Shawn. I'm going to babble about it again and say that I ADORE the concept of sustainability needing to be sustainable in your life. That's the best idea. I live in a crazy-liberal town and have crazy-hippie friends with all manners and levels of environmentalism and sustainability as part of their lives, whether that comes through in recycling, veganism, raw food eating, hardly showering, dumpster diving, not riding in cars/motorized vehicles, what-have-you. To me, and I'm a lazy and barely-principled person who is still trying to make a difference, there are two things that I try to keep in mind: first, you need to enjoy your life. And second, you need to make the best choice possible with the options available to you.

So if that means recycling aggressively, but eating all the bacon that comes within three feet of your face, that's how you put your green vibes in the world.

Do everything you can do reasonably at first. Then stretch a little. Then stretch a lot if you can.

The best thing that you can do is be educated about it, and it sounds like you are. You can't un-know what you've learned about the impact we humans have had on our surroundings. You'll naturally respond to it, but you're not 100% responsible.

or that's my $0.02.


Joshua Gordon said...

I'm totally the better for my (quick) dip into the FRIGID, FRIGID waters of vegetarianism. While I realize now that I wasn't quite ready, I benefited hugely because of my willingness to go there in the first place. Taking two steps forward and one step back is still taking one step forward, you know? I'm not vegetarian anymore, but I'm a whole lot more aware of the environmental ramifications of what I eat.

- Josh

PS I win for using the word ramification.