I do not want to tell you about the somewhat ridiculousness of my life the past few weeks. I fear irony, I fear, so powerfully and utterly, failure, I am scared and frustrated and a little annoyed and oh, so weary all rolled up into one.
I have observed that conservation is a lot about how you are raised. And I do mean being raised with decent exposure to nature, so that you care about nature because you have happy memories in it but also understand it, don't fear it, and hopefully had many chances for things you observed or experience to trigger your sense of wonder.
The kind of conversation where you feel driven to do things like recycle, turn lights off, turn the heat down, never leave the water running, endeavor not to throw away uneaten food simply because you don't want to finish it--that kind of conservation is also in how you are raised. I was raised by middle-class environmentalists. We turned the light off when we left the room. We didn't leave the water running. Because we cared about conserving resources so that they might last into perpetuity or so that harmful effects could be minimized, and yes, those were some of the most important values instilled in me at an early age--but also because leaving the lights on and the water running costs money.
The people I've watched not do these things who I've known well enough to converse about it reveal that their childhood was absent such messages, whether for not having the values, or just not worrying about the money. To me, who cannot encounter a dripping faucet I can't fix and not start to feel very upset, this is extremely infuriorating.
But then I met my Significant Other, who was raised with the same values but was also raised in much less well-off circumstances. They also didn't leave the lights on, they also never left the water running. But they wouldn't even turn lights on unless they were sure to use them for a while, and kept buckets ready to collect and utilize running water. They sure as hell never threw food away, food being pretty hard-earned at times.
Half of our arguments are about me forgetting to turn some light off, or throwing something away that doesn't need to be thrown away, or failing to re-use something that had never occurred to me was possible to re-use. And I feel bad about it, because he has good reasons, it's all about the values I already have, but I have such a damned hard time remembering sometimes. I don't think about it, even though I am someone inclined to think about that sort of thing. I don't think about taking it to the level that he does, and I have tried and tried but I don't know how to make myself notice and realize.
And I get angry, when he reminds me. I get defensive and upset even though I always admit to myself that I would rather remember and do it that way because it does save some money and is more in line with my conservation values. Admittedly, he doesn't always remind me in a very patient-person sort of way, this late in the game, but I get angry even though I think he's right, because being reminded of something over and again makes a person irritable.
This is the problem with trying to espouse environmentalism to people who were not raised in a way that makes these sort of things obvious. I still think conservation is one large piece of doing what is right, because that is one my values, and those values are just as important to me as anyone else's are to them. I've run out of thought and time right now to tackle what to do about this.