I read with interest Chris’ post about eco-overload. I think I suffer from one of eco-overload’s close cousins; I’ll call it eco-confusion. I want to engage in some more environmentally friendly behaviors, but I’m often unsure of what they are. It can be easy to change nothing for fear of doing wrong. For example, lists of ways to go green such as this one include the tip to use cloth napkins rather than paper napkins. Makes sense. After all, you can use the cloth over and over and not add to the landfill. But then I’ve also heard the arugment that using cloth napkins mean using more water, detergent, and electricity to wash them. And what about the bleaches, chemicals, trees, and fibers used to make either paper or cloth? Does it change the equation if you use paper napkins made of recycled paper? All this over napkins! I want to make good choices, but there seem to be so many variables. How do you make the right choice? Can you do it without dedicating your life to research?
In searching for some guidance, I kind of liked the advice I found at ECOnomically Sound. After they posed several both-sides-of-the-argument issues I hadn’t thought of (and thus reinforcing my confusion!), they recognized that making green decisions isn’t easy. They advised to do the best you can, and suggested that if everyone makes choices thoughtfully and with good environmental intentions, we’re bound to make improvements. It’s not an excuse for skipping research, but I do find it reassuring.