Resist Through the Way You Exist

One thing that’s emerging from discussion about the New Green Deal is that to act ecologically, to believe that climate change is real and that we must all work together to avert the worst of it, is now considered by some a radical leftist notion.

It is a given that the corporations must change their ways, must stop polluting and destroying the commons – the natural resources that belong to us all as citizens of this planet. The government must stop rolling back environmental protections — and put back the ones it’s stripped away while also stopping the flow of those resources to profiteers. But at the same time we as individuals can live in ways that help move us evolve into a society that places less strain on our planet.

You can #resist through the way you exist, and particularly the ways you spend money. Corporations have developed enormous systems designed to sell you stuff, to create anxiety in you and then offer material goods promising to soothe that anxious ache. All that angst will go away if you just buy the right celebrity’s brand, they say, and then laugh all the way to the bank while you stand there, not sure how you’ve been conned. Opt out!

Here are some things I’ve been trying to do more of this year:

  • Cooking more, and buying less pre-packaged or take-out food. I make the majority of our dinners (often quite quickly, due to the InstantPot). It’s cheaper and (usually) healthier plus it gives me more control over the ingredients. I do like my walk to the coffee shop in the morning; nowadays I bring my coffee thermos mug with me rather than use their paper cup.
  • Some of what I’m cooking comes from Imperfect Produce, which I’m finding convenient, plus a little cheaper. Imperfect Produce sells both organic and regular produce that isn’t consistently sized or pretty enough to go into the grocery store.
  • Reducing food waste through several other means, including using leftovers up whenever I can. A recent roast, for example, became a savory sauce over gnocchi the next night, and finished its existence as a soup. And the vegetable peelings from the meals all got popped in a plastic bag in the freezer; when there’s a full bag, I’ll make stock out of it. I like to make my own yogurt; the whey from that gets frozen and added to soups.
  • Another means of reducing waste is composting more, now I have a place with a yard. I might have gone a little compost nuts, actually. There’s a rolling bin for yard waste, a bokashi fermenter on its way, and a space reserved for a worm bin. But there’s enough garden space here that it will be useful!
  • I have always used simple stuff to clean with rather than buying heavily perfumed cleaners that make me sneeze. Try out baking soda instead of scouring powder, frozen chunks of fruit rather than garbage disposal deodorizers (also uses up aging fruit), wool dryer balls rather than fabric softener, olive oil based furniture polish, or vinegar and water for glass surfaces.
  • Making my own presents or giving experiences rather than things. Whatever your feelings on Marie Kondo, she does have a point when it comes to amount of useless stuff people accumulate. Why add to the the mass of that, when a batch of cookies might be more appreciated + don’t go on to take up shelf space for years? It doesn’t have to be sweets. It could be a plant you’ve started, a savory spice mix, or a scented bath bomb. There’s a LOT of DIY possibilities. Or take someone for a walk or to a concert they’ll enjoy.
  • I’ve always preferred thrift shops (perhaps because I was heavily influenced by Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover as a child) and that’s certainly not going to change, but I’ve also got enough space to pull out the sewing machine and either spend some time tweaking stuff I’ve accumulated or get rid of it.
  • Corporations don’t care about you, but they do care about the money that flows through your hands. Buy locally and from independent creators where you can, boycott the egregious bad behavers — and let them know that you are doing so — and overall make what you spend count where and when you can.

Remember that in this modern world, kindness, mindfulness, and honesty are as punk as you can get. Don’t buy into the cynicism enforced by edge-lord humor. It dulls your empathy and numbs you into acceptance of things as they are. Celebrate your differences and those around you.


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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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