Friday 30 September 2011

a green fling lesson: patience

Over the past few years I've learned a lot of greenie lessons - what can be recycled, what VOC stands for, to beware of greenwashing, how to make my own cleaning products - but by far the hardest lesson for me to learn has been patience.

It's also the one being tested right now.

I'm not sure if you've noticed but we live in a culture of convenience.  Between fast food, smart phones, tap-and-go credit cards and the ability to outsource everything from our laundry to our dog-walking, we can generally get what we want when we want it and don't have much inconvenience in our lives. The idea of waiting for something we want is practically foreign.

Being the somewhat spontaneous individual that I am, I've had to practice relinquishing my 'right' to purchase exactly what I desire precisely when I crave it.  Overall I've adapted to taking the time to research eco and ethical credentials of my purchases. I've waited for my eco-swimsuit and bamboo iPhone cover to arrive in the mail, I've embraced drying my clothes on the line and even sought out eco-friendly hair salons. But this week I'm wavering.

Here's the situation: a couple years ago I found a dresser on the street that was in perfect condition (well, until the hubby dropped it while bringing it into the house and a chunk of wood came flying off).  I eco-painted it a shabby-chic whitewash, finished it with antique knobs and welcomed it into my beachy bedroom. 

I was never in love with the final outcome, but left it for awhile until I came up with a better plan - which I did about a month ago. I decided I would paint it a vibrant peacock blue (similar to the below image) to add some colour to the room and set off our newly acquired Aboriginal painting.

photo via the-chic-life

I found a shade I liked from the huge array of paint samples at Bunnings and a couple weeks later took the paint chip to my favourite eco-homeware store so they could mix the colour from eco-paints (plant-based with low-VOCs; I've tried both Volvox and BioPaints before with good results).  It's not guaranteed this vibrant colour can be matched with natural pigments, but I couldn't imagine not at least trying to achieve what I wanted the eco-way.

The friendly, helpful shopkeeper told me it would be one day before he could play around with the colour; it's now been one week and one day, and two phone calls later he still hasn't tried to match the colour.  I really wanted the paint before the long weekend so I could tackle this project over a few days, but it's looking less and less likely by the hour.  To add further inconvenience, the store is only open 9-4 Monday thru Saturday, and is not easily accessible by public transportation so I have to set aside a couple of hours to drive to the shop and back. 

Bunnings and Dulux are only 15 minutes away on the bus and looking more attractive by the second.

I know compared to plenty of world issues this is not something to get overly worked-up over, but I am irritated.  It's a prime example of how it's not always easy being green and demonstrates how far the environmental movement still has to go if we're to motivate the masses.  And, of course, it's a huge lesson in patience.

Personally speaking, it's not the concept of climate change I'm struggling with, or even the value of using plant-based paint over petroleum-based paint on only one piece of furniture, but I'm fighting against my very Western, consumer-convenience-cultured self - she wants what she wants when she wants it - and she can be pretty feisty; if I don't get a call from my eco-paint store soon, she's going to win. 

Will I last?  Or will I cave and buy the petroleum-based paint at Bunnings?

I'll keep you posted.

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