Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A preaching hypocrite with turquoise shoes

Sometimes, I'm a bit of a preacher. I tell people which books to read (Stephen Covey), what websites to visit (, which fish not to eat (tuna), which jeans to wear (Kuyichi) and what music to listen to (Mayra Andrade). Sometimes I'm just enthusiastic and that's nice (many of my friends actually watch TED now and we share great stories). But sometimes I'm mainly being annoying.

Why is that? My vegetarian friends (and I have many) never try to convince me not to eat meat. I, on the other hand. preach about tuna. My life turned tuna free after I read an article in TIME magazine that hit a nerve with me. Several years a go after watching 'Darwin's nightmare' I didn't eat Nile Perch fillet anymore. But somehow my awareness of the terrible conditions under which the fish from the Victoria lake is caught and made into fillets, faded away.

I try to do the right things and to buy the right goods. But everything we do in this regard raises many questions, such as: how do we actually know the information we are getting (about tuna or about the good working condition of Kuyichi staff in Peru) is true? Once we start buying one pair of 'conscious' jeans should we ensure all our clothes are made by employees that get social benefits? And if so, how do we check that? Should we both look at the social AND the environmental aspects? And if we have to choose, which aspect is more important to us?

Recently, I ask myself these questions and people around me do the same. After buying a beautiful pair of green (turquoise according to the brand's website) heels, a friend asked me if I was sure they weren't made by Brazilian children. It was only then I realized, I hadn't looked into that at all. While buying the shoes, I just thought about the beauty and the quality (yes, I refuse to buy crappy shoes anymore). If we want to contribute to making the world better and to ensure that our footprint is as small as possible, how should we go about it? Should we check the whether all products we buy are biological and fair trade? Should I just stop flying airplanes? Traveling is probably my biggest contribution to an unsustainable world. Can I quit? Would it make a difference if everyone is else is still doing it?

As you can see, I have many questions about this subject. This blogpost starts my exploration of this topic and posts to come will try to answer the questions. And let me come out for it, just for the record: My name is Amis Boersma and I am a hypocrite.


Miriam said...

I buy Kuyichi jeans, watch TED, am about to buy Stephen Covey, am a vegetarian, recycle as much as possible and rarely eat tuna. And we share the same questions... I concluded after a lot of thinking that the best thing you can do to contribute to a healthy world is to die, get cremated and blown away by the wind.....
But since there's too much worth living for, the other best thing to do is to just try. And make concious choices. Travel, but know where you're going. Buy nice shoes, but know where you're walking towards,
My believe is that by doing that, you will contribute. Even though it's just in a small way.

Susan Soesilowati said...

I agree with least we try and do our best.And you are doing GOOD daughter....
Love ya, mama

Tommy said...

Well... This sounds worst than it is in reality. No one does perfectly all the time. Sometimes, you don't have enough information (as in, your shoes), sometimes you need to balance your needs with your ideals(for e.g seeing loved ones and taking the plane). And for countless other reasons, decisions can be hard to make. Keep in light who you are and what your values are, and let these do the decision making as much as you possibly can. Keep up with the posting!

Philippe said...

hahaha, I remember this story!
If this can help you feel better, you're doing a MUCH better job than the average, the title of your post is even a bit shocking for someone who knows what kind of conscientious person you are.
Moreover, I think you would even scare me in a certain way if you were systematically always buying everything right based on the way products are made.This wouldn't be human!