How to Tell If Your an Ecoholic: A Survey for the Eco-Fanatic

This past holiday weekend was a delight, with great meals, visitors from afar, and plenty of good fun. So why did I find myself sneaking around the kitchen like a thief when everybody else was relaxing in the living room? Some of it was normal cleanup, of course. But digging through the trash to pull out the cranberry-smeared Hansen's ginger ale can? How awkward if I'd gotten caught red-handed. And then there was the plastic supermarket bag that had somehow gotten buried under gravy and heaven only knows what else, also retrieved, and rinsed for reuse.

Is this normal behavior?

Okay, so some scientists are trying to make their data more impressive, but there is no denying that the icebergs are, in fact, melting; the air is troublesome; there are water shortages throughout the world; and... oh well, you know the litany or you wouldn't be on this site.

The question is, how much can one person do about it? Some people argue that individual actions don't matter nearly as much as changes made by large corporations and the government. It's true, my pathetic energy saving is probably meaningless compared to the 24/7 cooled air in large buildings; turning off the faucet when I brush my teeth is literally a drop in the bucket compared to the water used in mining, or even my dentist's office. (And speaking of dentists, what about the bazillion plastic gloves they go through every year?)

But I can't help myself. It's like a little nick on my soul when I consign recyclables to the dump. I guess the truth is unavoidable: I'm an ecoholic. I asked my guy for suggestions about what an ecoholic does and he said, "Just think of all the things you do!" (And here I thought I was being so sneaky.)

So if you're wondering if you're an ecoholic, do you...

  • Pull recyclables out of the trash after other people have thrown them away?

  • Feel compelled to ferry random detritus to the nearest bin when you find it on a beach or trail?

  • Unplug your phone charger when it's not in use?

  • Run back to the car for your cloth bag if you realize when you get to the supermarket checkout counter that you've forgotten yours?

  • Feel like a loser when your kitchen compost bucket is too full and you end up putting scraps in the trash?

  • Wash plastic utensils after a party?

  • Have washed plastic bags hanging all over your kitchen?

  • Store prescription leftovers, paint cans and random unrecyclable batteries under the sink for months until the hazmat recycle?

  • Feel just a wee bit smug about having just one small bag of garbage at the end of the week?

  • And the real kicker, do you reuse birthday cake candles?

If you answered yes to eight or more of these, it may be time to admit you're an ecoholic. Not everybody will understand (especially some of your otherwise-fabulous visiting relatives), but rest assured there are plenty of people who don't think you're nuts, and who do some of those very same things. Aren't there?

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