What we’re up against

Whenever I feel a little too comfortable in my treehugger social bubble, I need only look as far as my condo complex to give myself a good slap in the face. There are recyclables in the trash…pretty much every time. There is trash in the recycle bin…pretty much every time. The dryers are going full blast when it’s 95 degrees outside, and my downstairs neighbors regularly take 20 minute showers as if the Californian drought were pure fantasy. But today — wow, today was a whole new level of clueless, American entitlement at work.

I’m so astounded by what I observed today that I drew you a picture.

Here’s the explanation. This family lives on a ground unit with a door that opens out on their covered parking spot, where they keep a big gray truck. To do laundry, they put it in the truck, drive it less than 50 feet down to the laundry room, double park, and leave their engine running while they go put their laundry in. Then they back up to their spot and double park it again. A little later, they drive up again to retrieve the washed and dried laundry. They are neither disabled nor old.

(Feel free to interject “WTF??!” at any point here.)

Kevin had to point out what they were doing because it would never, ever have occurred to me that even the most clueless American would do something so phenomenally…I don’ t even know how to describe it. Lazy? Thoughtless? Self-absorbed? Unsustainable? American?

Unfortunately, I strongly suspect they’re a lot closer to the standard American family than Kevin and I are. It’s not just them; it’s an attitude problem that most of America has. It’s the attitude that I’m free to do whatever is easiest, cheapest, and best for me regardless of the costs to other people, species, and ecosystems. That the long term viability of our resources doesn’t matter in the face of present abundance. That I deserve to be able to do my laundry like a bastard because I can. 

This is what the environmental movement is really up against. Be afraid.


11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by seitei on 01/05/2011 at 20:41

    not sure if this is more funny than frightening or what!


  2. That’s an amazing story. It’s good to be reminded. I’m always surprised when I walk the 3 short blocks to yoga, meandering down beautiful streets, that some of my neighbors have driven there. Hmmm, I really don’t get it.


  3. Posted by The Environmental Goddess on 01/06/2011 at 10:32

    Hello! I just stumbled on your blog and am really enjoying it so far! I have to stay that I am horrified and saddened by what you described and I agree that it is such a mindset problem, no matter where in the world it’s happening (Canadians aren’t much better!).


  4. This is so horrible! Once I walked to the grocery store and noted 3 cars running without any people in them, just to keep them warm presumably. It was really cold that day, but still. Deal. Just deal people! They are thinking of putting in an anti-idling bylaw here (no more than 3 minutes) but we have been waiting for years. What about when you are waiting for a long ass train and there are 100 cars sitting there waiting, on both sides, for like 10 minutes, all idling away. Grrrr. Just turn it off. What about drive-thrus? The list goes on…


  5. Posted by david on 01/12/2011 at 17:10

    Sad isn’t it. Seems inherent in our (american) DNA. The bigger is better, excess isn’t enough & FU this is america and because of FreeDumb i can do as i please. Most days i just hang my head in shame. :/


    • Some day the planet will rein our excesses in, but it would sure be a lot more pleasant for everyone if we could do make the transition to sustainability voluntarily. What makes me think you would like the film Idiocracy?


  6. I’m speechless. I had to read the post over three times because my brain just didn’t want to believe this actually happens. What’s worse, there’s nothing you could say to them! If I actually witnessed this occurring, I’d be torn between keeping quiet (because speaking up would be pointless) and making a comment (because I can’t just watch a scene like this and do nothing). But where do you start when this is the level of excess, indulgence, and entitlement?

    BTW, great blog, just discovered it when Twitter suggested I follow you!


    • I’m painfully introverted in real life — sometimes I wish I could just give those people a piece of my mind! I don’t even know their names and have never spoken to them. I guess this is one of those situations in which it would be good to be more social; I’d have some way to approach them.

      Glad you found me! I’ll check out your blog in a minute.


  7. […] infected. While I’m in here blogging about how to turn vegetable scraps into stock, I have neighbors who drive 50 feet to the laundry room, throw cardboard in the trash, and buy bottled water by the […]


  8. […] not to think, “Well, s/he’s not playing by the rules. Why should I?” My neighbor drives his truck down to the laundry room at the end of the parking area. Why should I walk in the rain (uphill, both ways) to the market […]


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