9: “How Do We Live with Ourselves?”


This chapter discusses the sometimes painful trade-offs that are required to balance priorities, resources, and constraints in the everyday lives of eco-conscious parents of young children. What happens when people try to live, in one informant’s words, a “less eco-hostile” existence? Because their choices were already constrained before the choosing begins, they frequently find themselves in impossible situations. Balancing regular life with sustainability priorities means that my informants are frequently faced with difficult decisions, and the compromises involved make them feel guilty and upset about their inability to live in a way that is fully compatible with their ideals. These eco-conscious parents of young children are part of capitalist society and contribute to its continued existence, but at the same time are dominated by it. They are just parents who are trying to make the right choices for their families and the environment in a society that feels out of step with their sustainability priorities, but this is a heavy burden.

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