I recently read the classic Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. It’s been on my to-read list for years, definitely since high school, but for some unknown reason it didn’t get read. I’m not sure where to begin because despite 50 years since its publication, it is unfortunately still relevant. It is a scientific work that is written in an approachable manner. I understand why it is a classic and if you haven’t read it yet, you should. I read it in mostly unintentional parallel with several newer publications, that are listed and linked at the end of this post. Together these books help shape my current path toward increased mindfulness in my consumption and the choices I make.
My concern for the environment and my conflict with consumption has long been documented. I’m not going to start screaming we should only be organic and only buy the minimum needed for survival. I’m realistic and have come to understand the role of beautiful objects in our lives. However I’m still frustrated that so many appear to choose not to question the consequences of their choices and their continued actions surprise me.
I’m not immune! I desired a loom so badly I went out and bought lots of PVC to follow some instructions and build it myself. Yes, the entire time I kvetched that I wished I had step-by-step instructions for wood, but I wanted my loom right that instant. For the record a few weeks after I completed the loom I found The Loom Book at a library book sale and it provides plans for a four-harness forty-inch (!!) floor loom. le sigh. My largest frustration? I didn’t think to stop and think much about the choice of materials except to complain that it wasn’t wood. That choice has ensured that this loom and I will not part ways soon. I do not question my desire for the loom because I am highly fascinated by woven fabric and wish to produce my own. I am concerned with how I was too impatient to wait and save up the necessary funds to either purchase something or draw up the necessary plans and find the parts I couldn’t make.
I understand it is difficult to balance the constant plea for consumption and perfection with their environmental consequences. I type this accompanied by beautiful and varied bird song, yet worry about the conflict between local wildlife and my suburban neighborhood (I live on the edge of a nature preserve). When most yards on your street could be part of a golf course, it is impossible not to fret about the state of your grass even when you hope the spreading clover will make the local bunny population happy. I run at 5:30 in the morning and see who doesn’t have a rain sensor on their sprinkler system, they aren’t expensive to add on! I’m also trying not to think too hard about the sprinklers that are doing their thing right next to the yards with little yellow pesticide warning flags and what that means for run-off.
Like everyone else, I am constantly surrounded by pleas to consume more and to replace something that works perfectly well even if it’s relatively new. I’m fascinated by those who participate in challenges such as Project 333 and thankful for those that make public announcements of their attempt to find that balance.
I’m not sure where this post is going and am honestly nervous to finally post it and allow commenting. I’ve been drafting reviews of all of these books for weeks but cannot separate myself from the question of constant consumption and manufactured desire of perfection. Are any of the books the answer? No, but they definitely all made me stop and think.
I’m not expecting answers.
I just hope that we each slow down and think about our choices and actions and try to move in a direction that will find the elusive balance in consumption, the environment, and our communities.
Books (links go to GoodReads or LibraryThing):
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health