We are bringing the intellect to writers.block this afternoon.
Carl Jung. I think this sentence ought to be inscribed in whatever spaces cultural critics occupy while scribbling their attacks on this or that generation, this or that movement. All of us ought to bear it in mind; we’d be less brutal in our judgments, more self-aware, less contented with ourselves, more forgiving of others.
A problem: criticism is a crucial part of reaction, of experience; one cannot limply allow all that happens to wash over one without a response. Indeed, a central problem in our culture seems to be a paucity of criticism: nothing is interrogated, dissected, contextualized, explained, partly because nothing is even heeded. Everyone is disgorging opinions and works in such a torrent that there is no time for real, contemplative criticism.
(A theory: relativism triumphs in the contemporary West not because most decide on it but because for various technological reasons there simply isn’t enough time or mental space to sort through so many competing, dissonant streams of information: better to let them pool, puddle, and evaporate).
Is it senseless to oppose the criticism that springs from irritation? Shouldn’t I be irritated by hypocrisy, by mendacity, by false art, by superficiality, by deliberate obfuscation in culture and politics? Is it really the case that my irritation isn’t driven by righteous outrage at the violation of moral or aesthetic principles so much as discomfited recognition of my own hypocrisy, mendacity, and so on?
I believe it is. I believe this explains why “hypocrisy” is the favorite charge of this indignant age: we are disgusted by hypocrisy because we recognize all our condemnations, all our judgments, as fundamentally hypocritical; hypocrisy is the essential quality of human outrage -which is always hypocritical-, and therefore it is our most severe accusation. We often hear: “I wouldn’t object to so-and-so doing such-and-such, it’s their denial of it, the hypocrisy of it!”
We know that we all disguise our motives, falsify our behavior, depend on various private selves, and since we are ambivalent about this necessary and constant form of dissimulation, we despise it in others. I have come to think of this loathing of hypocrisy is a coded request for forgiveness; whenever we savage someone for their flaws, we disclose what we detest about ourselves, what we hope to be forgiven for.
For many of us, travel is a time to let go, unwind, indulge, or explore. All good things, but that doesn’t have to mean a vacation from your otherwise squeaky-clean, environmentally responsible habits. Travel is one of the more wasteful industries—just think of all those single-use bottles of moisturizer, the carbon cost of transatlantic flights, the rented cars—taking measurable tolls on the planet. Each additional 10 pounds per traveler, for example, requires an extra 350 million gallons of jet fuel each year. That’s enough to keep a 747 jet flying continuously for 10 years—and a lot of bad karma.
The good news is there are some pretty easy ways to minimize your own waste, while also saving money as you go. The smart people at GOOD have put together some Good Instructions for us:
Unplug everything. As long as they’re plugged in, computers, microwaves, televisions, and various other appliances suck power even if they’re turned off, so be sure to unplug them before you leave. (This is a good habit to get into when you aren’t traveling, too.)
Turn off the lights. Make sure your lights are off. If you have outside lights or feel better leaving a light on in the house to fend off burglars, put them on a timer or use solar-powered lights.
Stop your newspaper delivery. Stop newspapers from coming while you’re out of town. This saves you from having to recycle old newspapers when you return and it’s good for safety, too. Nothing is more inviting to a burglar than a pile of unread papers on the porch.
Adjust the temperature. Turn off your air conditioner and heater, and draw your curtains.
Pack light (literally). Packing heavily means more energy used by you, the airplane, the airport carousels, and the car taking you to and from the airport. Wear bulkier items like sneakers or boots on the plane, and go the carry-on route: It saves time at the baggage claim and money on new bag-check fees.
Bring a water bottle and coffee cup. Traveling usually means long days away from your hotel or hostel, making it harder to get hydrated without buying bottled water—unless, of course, you bring along your Sigg. If you’re a coffee drinker, pack a reusable BPA-free coffee cup, too.
Bring your own toiletries. Though more and more hotels are stocking guest rooms with cleaner, more sustainable shampoos and soaps, a lot of them still don’t—and there’s no getting around the wastefulness of single-use plastic bottles. Since you’re going to be packing light (see above) it’s worth keeping small refillable glass bottles on hand for when you leave town. Consider simplifying your regimen as well: Use soap or conditioner as shaving cream; or pack an all-in-one castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s for hair, body, and face.
Put a hold on hotel hospitality. No one washes their towels and sheets every day, so there is no reason to do so while you are on vacation. Request that your linens not be changed during your stay, especially since most hotels use bleach and various chemical detergents to keep their whites white. You can also leave a friendly note in your room asking hotel staff to leave the thermostat where you set it (off, ideally).
Watch your paper consumption. Print your boarding pass at home on recycled paper instead of using the heavy-duty tickets issued by airlines, and use E-tickets when possible. Take travel books out from the library instead of purchasing them, or use free online trip-planning tools like Nile Guide.
Buy local. You do it at home, and you should do it when you’re away, too. Buying local supports the economy wherever you go, and ensures your purchases don’t come with a shamefully huge footprint.
Rent a hybrid—or a bike. If you must have a car wherever you go, reserve a hybrid (they go fast, so make sure you call ahead). Better still, find another way to get around town. More and more sustainability (and hipster) focused hotels offer complimentary bike rentals, but if yours doesn’t, maybe the city you’re in has a bike-share program. Do some research before you go so that your transportation requirements are sorted out before you go—obviating the need for last-minute cab rides or drives all over town.
Offset your carbon footprint. Finally, as you’ve surely noticed, most airlines and travel-booking sites now offer carbon offset programs as an add-on to your flight purchase. It’s a nice move, but it doesn’t let you off the hook for taking other meaningful actions.
Read more at GOOD…