Today I’d like to write something about living with ecologists. I’ve been living together with a landscape ecologist student for one year now and have during this time met a lot of other “alternative” thinking people and heard a lot about their theories. What they want to achieve is a better, greener world and a less destructive way for people to live in harmony with nature – a big give and take. So far I can understand them very well and of course a lot of people are interested in taking part to save our planet. But I noticed that ecologists tend to be extreme in the realisation of their ideas. Not extreme in a violent way. They are very pacifistic. I mean extreme in wanting to do everything than just your part.
I live in a town full of students whose minds are very apt to avoid old-fashioned ideas and to turn to new ones. This way you can meet a lot of very different sorts of people in one place. Usually they live their ideas to a point that you can recognise people liking the same things in a crowd. People who study Scandinavian or Baltic languages tend to like the colour black, metal music and have long hair. This is just an example. There are of course exceptions.
To come back to the ecologist: My flatmate told me (and I have seen proof of all this with my own eyes) that some of them (the more extreme) do not shave because nature made them with this hair. They let their hair and beards grow aswell (I suppose you will never find an ecologist with a hairstyle like Victoria Beckham). Shoes are something known to them only in winter and sometimes not even then, the reason being they are convinced that you can live without them and buying them is just helping capitalism. They have no mobile phones and rarely a conputer or TV. They prefer to grow their own food which is not a bad idea, most of them are vegetarians or vegans anyway. Worst of all is the so-called “hunting” or “dumpster-diving”. As soon as it gets fully dark they go to the supermarkets’ garbage containers and look for what they can find that is still edible so as not to let it waste (I do really hope that this is just a hobby of our students here and not more wide-spred). All these are things I could tolerate (except dumpster diving). They do not harm anyone.
But what I cannot tolerate is the bad conscience I get when they are around me. I do not want to tolerate that because I choose not to. I think there are always more than one or two ways to look at things. If I have 14 pairs of shoes, so what? Does that mean I love capitalism? No, I simply like shoes, like to be well dressed and help the economy of the country I live in (at the moment that’s Germany, you know they are in an economical crisis like a lot of others?). When I shave and get a haircut at a coiffeur (there are people who are talented enough to cut their own hair but I am not one of them…) it’s the same. And when I wash my clothes although they have no stains or spots but I do not want them to smell of sweat or smoke or anything else, when I wash my hands more often than is absolutely necessary, I am not keen on wasting water. I just like clean clothes and hands.
As a child I had my share of getting dirty and playing in sand or mud or with animals (from cow to rabbit) and jumping in puddles of water, so I think I am not someone who exaggerates cleaning myself and things. When I prefer to buy my food instead of growing it myself, it may simply mean that I have neither the time or the place to do it. When I prefer not to wear second-hand clothes, not to eat still edible things because they have been in a dumpster before (even if they are cleaned afterwards) this cannot make me a bad person. But I feel like one when my flatmate has some visitor and when this person looks at me, all girly and seemingly having only books, chocolate and my rabbits on my mind. Indeed I admit that I do not want those people in my kitchen at all simply because they look like homeless people, shabby, neglected and dirty although they need not. I may be superficial here and I may have become prejudiced about ecologist students but I cannot help it.
I do want to do my part to help our planet and I think I do a lot already. I always use my bike or walk in winter. I recycle things. I am no vegetarian and will never be one but I try to buy products from animals which live in a reasonable way (like no eggs from hens who lived in tiny-sized cages and never saw the sun). In fact I would never try to eat anything like snakes, crocodile or cangaroo meat because I see no sense in it. Its the same with meat from lambs, rabbits, deer, horses, etc. I wear no leather, no fur and sign lists against nuclear energy, whale hunting for profit and genetically modified food whenever I can. (http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/getinvolved/#a1) These are things I can do without making my live too hard. Of course there is more I could do. I’ve never donated anything. I could do more. A lot of people could do more. Still, nobody who at least does something is a step forward.
I’ve tried to talk to my flatmate and her friends about this feeling they give me. I might not be the only person to feel that way. I am not trying to destroy the world with how I live. I appreciate anyone who is helping in his or her way. Still in the eyes of ecologists this seems like nothing. All or nothing. Look like a hippie or destroy the world? I’ve never been called anything bad by an ecologist. In fact I feel ignored and somehow non-existing. They appear to be very nice persons (although maybe not too good at etiquette and table manners) but I am not bad because I eat meat and they are no saints because they wear no shoes. I try hard to understand them, asking my flatmate repeatedly why they do this and that. I’d like to feel some interest in my way of living from them sometime. … I see I cannot get to any satisfying conclusion tonight. Everything I wrote were merely my own thoughts and experiences and are of course no facts.
Maybe you know any ecologists or are an ecologist who wants to say something about this? I am open for criticism (if constructive and not offensive). Please comment.