I am a letter-writer, hear me roar! Or hear the scrape of my fountain pen against paper, as it were...
Except... I'm not so sure. On the one hand, paper stationery kills trees, ink is made of petroleum and other toxic chemicals, and planes emit a great deal of emissions. On the other hand, even if I could stop using paper altogether for the rest of my life, forests would still die at the hands of big corporations and their printers' endless appetite for reams of paper, not to mention the pulp and lumber industries. Even if I gave up ball-point and fountain pens, every last drop of petroleum will eventually be extracted for fuel and military uses. And let's face it, there won't be fewer planes in the skies just because I stop mailing letters. The sad truth is that even if every last proud letter-writer like me gave up their hobby, not much would change on the global scale.
Unfortunately such rationalization doesn't make the guilt disappear. I still hold sustainability ideals close to my heart and feel the need to do as much as I can, within reason, to lessen my carbon footprint. The strange thing is that my desire to live simply and slowly occasionally gets in the way of my environmental goals, like in this case. Usually my attempts at taking breaks from the fast pace of life - cooking seasonal meals with locally grown ingredients at home, unplugging from the internet over the weekend, getting up early to walk all the way to work, etc. - conveniently satisfy my urge to live green. Writing letters, it seems, helps with the former and impedes the latter. Sitting down with a cup of tea in my left hand and a fountain pen in my right hand to share my recent life experiences with a far-away friend is a lovely experience, and not something easily accomplished using an electronic, environmentally friendly method. And so I sacrifice the planet ever so slightly for the sake of my well-being, which I hope is the right trade-off.
What do you do that lets you live slowly but isn't as green as you'd like?
Photo of fountain pen used under Creative Commons from Adrian Clark (a.drian/flickr).
Photo of air mail stickers used under Creative Commons from Katey Nicosia (flickr).