Green Guilt

As if us Jewish working mothers didn’t have enough to feel guilty about, we can now add green guilt to the list. I’m not talking about the guilt you feel when you’re  jealous of someone. No, it’s the guilt over apparently single-handedly destroying the planet.

Last week, I had to make an unplanned trip to the supermarket. This meant I had to go without my eco-friendly, reusable green shopping bags. The reason: We keep the bags in the trunk of our Honda Hybrid (seriously), which we use as much as possible – and certainly for supermarket trips – to reduce our footprint on the planet whenever we can. But this trip was unplanned, so I was in the wrong car and sans green bags.

I actually found myself agonizing over my decision to walk into the supermarket knowing that at the checkout I would have to take the dreaded non-reusable, eco-hating plastic bags. I didn’t have a choice – I couldn’t wait until the next day. I cursed myself for not planning properly and thus becoming an eco-offender. I sat in my gas guzzling car, in the parking lot, feeling bad for what I was about to do, feeling green guilt creeping into every fiber of my being.

I went in, did my shopping, and checked out. I found myself resenting the checkout assistant, who was just doing her job. I took the offensive plastic, non-degradable bags, and tried to optimize them as much as possible shoving as much as I could into each one. Mortified, I slunk out of supermarket with my head hanging in shame, feeling like everyone was staring at me in disgust.

So in addition to feeling bad for not having spent enough time with my children, not having finished enough work that week, not having organized my children for the next school year quickly enough, not having spoken to the friends who left me messages weeks before, and not having done laundry, I also felt guilty of the eco-crime of not having reusable bags on tap at any given moment.

I am very much in favor of living an eco-friendly life-style, and I make every effort. I finally know I am succeeding as green guilt has now seeped into the core of my Jewish maternal existence and has become yet another source of Yiddishe angst. It seems that our ethno-genetic make-up ensures that we only do well at what we feel bad about.

Stay green, stay sane and keep the shmutz down to a minimum. Here are some tips that will help you boost your own personal green guilt.

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