Monday, 17 December 2012

Green Guilt

Merry meet.


Those of you who read my blog will know that when we first got to the USA we had to find a vehicle in a hurry, and it had to be big enough so that when we picked our German Shepherd up from the airport, we could fit his shipping crate in too.  We decided on an SUV, and opted for a used Ford Expedition as it was big enough to take the crate in and was just within our budget.

So that mission was accomplished, but then both my husband and I started to feel a bit uncomfortable about having this massive vehicle.  It ate petrol like it was going out of fashion, and used to cost almost $100 a week if we were doing normal driving.  I was too nervous to drive it, and even my husband said it was a bit of a monster.  As for the ecological impact of owning such a gas-guzzler, well suffice to say I was suffering from major guilt.  How could I call myself a witch and claim to be trying to help the planet when we were cruising around in that beast?

We discussed trading it in only to find we'd been royally ripped off on the price, and as we're still so new to the USA we can't get credit, so I gave it up as hopeless and figured I'd have to do some really impressive offsetting to try to alleviate my eco guilt.

However, I had underestimated my husband's determination to downsize the car, and last week I left the house to go for a jog and found a nice estate car on the driveway.  Now this being America, it's still way bigger than we would have gone for back home in the UK, but it's much more fuel economical, costs just under $50 to fill, and I'm able to drive it comfortably.  Bearing in mind my next car purchase back home was likely to be a hybrid hatchback, either a Honda Jazz or a Toyota Yaris, I'm still not exactly eco-friendly, but it's a big improvement.

Now my next step is to improve our green credentials in other areas of our lives.  We don't pay for our utilities, but I can still see how small I can make the bills by minimising our usage.  It's food that is giving me the biggest headache to be honest.  Back home I tried to buy both locally and seasonally, and when the budget stretched to it I bought my meat from the local butcher which not just reduced my food miles but also supported both the independent butcher and the local farmer.  Here I've not found anything like that. My local big-name supermarket does proudly display it's American produced fruit (Florida oranges are an obvious one), but the meat department is very restricted.  The only lamb I can regularly find is whole legs, which is both excessive for two people and incredibly expensive, the chickens are always pumped full of broth, and I have no idea about the welfare standards of any of it.  I know that back home, British pork is always more expensive than Danish because we have higher welfare standards, but the pork butt roast I bought for Sunday dinner (please don't get me started on the names of the cuts, why is it so different?) had no indication of how ethically it was produced.  There does seem to be a reasonable amount of organic produce available, both fresh and packaged goods, and a surprisingly good choice of gluten free products, but then check the packaging and the additives can be as baffling as ever, and what on earth is corn syrup when it's at home and why is it in so many seemingly innocent products?

So my next step is quite clear to me; I need to do my homework and try to get to the bottom of all this, because we are going to be here for a few years yet and I intend to eat well and not destroy Mother Earth in the process.

Blessed be )0(