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Tired of being good

Posted in Health, Life & Love, and Women's issues

Image courtesy of Sarah Rosado  www.sr-artwork.com
Image courtesy of Sarah Rosado
www.sr-artwork.com

Recycling is second nature. I haven’t kept the tap running while brushing my teeth in 20 years. My toilets have been upgraded to low flow; the water I drink is filtered rather than bought in plastic bottles. I don’t microwave plastic containers. My dogs are rescued. I try to buy organic fruit and vegetables or, at least, pesticide free. I check the labels of canned or boxed products for hidden sodium, sugar, hydrogenated fat and unpronounceable ingredients. I worry about women in Africa, elephants and rhinos, homeless people and women’s rights. I will not sign my name to any petition until I have researched the facts myself. I have nearly eliminated meat from my diet. I am looking into installing solar panels. My primary physician, while holding a degree in Medicine, is a holistic doctor and has not prescribed me an anti-biotic or a pain-killer in 20 years. I take my electronics to recycling events.

I am exhausted.

As I looked at photos of the clothing manufacturing building that caved on itself in Bangladesh, killing hundreds of workers, I sat down to write about buying clothes in an ethical manner. And then it hit me. I spend a large part of my life trying to do the right thing: for the planet, for my body, for the underprivileged – and I am so tired.  There. I said it.

When a fire broke out in China, at one of the factories that manufacture components for the iPhone, I did not protest with large placards outside my nearest Apple store but I was glad that media pressure forced Tim Cook to look more closely at their providers. I want to feel good about my iPhone. Nike was also shamed, years ago, about the treatment of their workers in Bangladesh and remedied the situation so I could keep on running guilt free. But how can I keep tabs on the thousands of little choices I make on an everyday basis while buying shampoo, lotion, make up, pretty clothes made in China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand and every other country where, for a few dollars a day, someone might be sitting  in an unsanitary space for 12 hours a day stitching my shirts?

If I were a character in “Portlandia“, I could start demanding every garment I buy come with a little label attached (printed on recycled paper) showing the photo of the worker who made my dress and a brief history of how well she is taken care of. But I am not, and it seems I cannot always trust the larger bodies put in place to oversee workers’ rights or product safety.  Which is why I feel forced to conduct research on carcinogenic ingredients in my shampoo and toothpaste.

Image courtesy of Sarah Rosado www.sr-artwork.com
Image courtesy of Sarah Rosado
www.sr-artwork.com

Could it be that being the product of too much information is finally driving me crazy? Or  is it living in California, where I would rather run back a mile to retrieve the reusable shopping bags I forgot in the trunk of my car, rather than being subjected to the dirty looks of Wholefoods’ cashiers? That’s it. I have finally become the prototype eco-conscious-save-the-world chick my state is famous for. And it dawned on me I need to find some balance and let go a bit of this over zealousness. Or do I? How can we trust large corporations to do the right thing when, oftentimes, the right thing goes against looking good  in front of the shareholders?

For a brief moment, a few years ago, I considered the possibility of buying only US made clothing. The effort petered out at the first JCrew visit. On one hand, my “need” for silk flower printed pants keeps a Bangladeshi worker housed and fed. On the other, I have to trust that whomever JCrew contracts to oversee their factories is also working for the benefits of the worker bees. It’s this latter part that gets me all the time.

Today I took my first step. I woke up with a throbbing abscess in a tooth. My beautiful, elegant and wrinkle free dentist with whiter than white teeth confirmed my assessment and is sending me for a root canal. Not before prescribing me antibiotics first. My instinct was to run to my laptop to check for the existence of natural antibiotics. But then I heard sofagirl in my head “Take the damn pills” she would say. And I did.

“Would you like me to prescribe you some Vicodin for the pain too?”

Horror-stricken, I declined. I still have to draw the line somewhere.

The extraordinary images are courtesy of Sarah Rosado. You can check out her work at sr-artwork

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15 Comments

  1. There has to be a balance. Hope your tooth situation isn’t too painful. Take care! And see you soon! 🙂 Can I serve you some Loumidis Greek coffee? Not sure who makes it..I assume a few of the Greeks who are lucky enough to still have jobs 🙁

    April 29, 2013
    |Reply
    • Love Greek coffee! Greek everything can be found at Papa Christo off Normandie… you will learn

      April 29, 2013
      |Reply
  2. silvia
    silvia

    I LOVE the weight your words transmit to the reader, this sense of tiredness in doing endless things. Excellent job honey.
    Unfortunately I have no good advice for you, I simply let go from time to time, maybe too often comparing my sense of duty to yours

    April 29, 2013
    |Reply
    • I think the pressure of being “green” is not as strong in Italy. California is often at the forefront of new trends or more stringent laws (nowhere in Los Angeles stores are giving out plastic bags anymore) so sometimes it’s easier to fall into step. But why is it I always feel I should be doing more???

      April 29, 2013
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      • silvia
        silvia

        I think that this has to do with your upbringing, isn’t it?

        May 2, 2013
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  3. It’s just a sad and tiring vicious cycle hey? …..aaaargh.Beautiful, candid writing as usual.

    April 29, 2013
    |Reply
    • I am sure my anal personality has a lot to do with it! But thank you for the compliment. Will take that

      April 29, 2013
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  4. What a great post. This reflects how so many of us who are trying are feeling. I got “tired” just reading what you do. Thank you.

    April 29, 2013
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    • I suppose it’s a matter of balance as in everything else in life….I am always the little over achiever….

      April 29, 2013
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  5. You could get rich sending Vicodin to Italy – it’s not available here – and every Italian who has followed Dr House is dying to disocver why it’s House’s drug of choice. Seriously, my doctor friends tell me that many of their patients ask for it!! Even I have tried. Only kidding though, about sending it here. Hope the abscess clears up quickly, that’s not pleasant – root canal is a doddle. Just had two myself.

    April 29, 2013
    |Reply
    • You are not the first one to suggest I divvy up the goodies among good friends! Let me tell you how it makes you feel. I took it twice years ago, after minor surgery. I was lying on the couch in a state of stupor, unable to do anything but stare at the tv, semi catatonic. Can’t quite understand how people function on it! Dr House included (loved that show)

      April 29, 2013
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  6. Great post. It is hard work to try to do all the ‘right’ things and I think you do have to have a balance. Well done for taking the pills. 🙂

    April 29, 2013
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    • I might be headed in that direction but I haven’t lost my mind yet…sometimes you have to do what you have to do! Thank you for reading

      April 29, 2013
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  7. Janet Rörschåch
    Janet Rörschåch

    Good luck on the root canal. If you take the Vicodin please consider having someone around who can,ook out for you. Very powerful stuff….

    April 29, 2013
    |Reply
    • I know! Took once, years ago and never again. How do people do it? Tylenol works just fine

      April 29, 2013
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