By Valerie Luu
Here’s the inconvenient truth: my love life is horrible for the environment.
It began at the end of August, when I met this boy before moving out of my summer San Francisco sublet. A handsome guy who shares my concerns about the environment, he owns an alternative food company and lists “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” as his favorite book.
Just as the old line goes, I left my heart in San Francisco and have been going back every weekend to see the person and city I’m infatuated with.
This has led me to the Long-Distance Relationship Dilemma: although the time we spend together is amazing, is it worth all the money, time, and (fuel) energy? My carbon footprint increases when I use the Metro bus, Caltrain, and BART to see him, which along with burning fossil fuels, burns through my savings too.
As the weeks have passed and my wallet has gotten thinner, I’m wondering if I should date the way I shop for my groceries — local, healthy, and organic.
Why date local? Dating local means being present in the people and environment one resides in. It means spending less time traveling for visits or catching up on the phone, and living your life where you are at that moment.
To better understand why I’m adamant on localism, take a look at my environmentally unfriendly dating history. A former boyfriend used to fly over every month or two from his school in Texas, totaling about 10 trips over the span of two years, contributing 4.43 tons in carbon emissions. Along with being unhealthy for the environment, it also took away from both our experiences in college — not only were we unable to live a life together, it was difficult to fully participate in our separate lives.
For couples who reside in different locations, this is an all-too-familiar story. Fourth-year American studies student Steve Gotzler commented on troublesome nature of long-distance relationships.
“You get to a point where you’re not in each other’s lives on a daily basis, you’re trying to make conversation and keep in touch,” Gotzler said. “There comes a point where you stop having things to talk about and when you’re just reliving memories … you can’t make new memories because you’re not seeing each other.”
Christa Pederson, a third-year film and digital media student, recalls her long-distance relationship with her ex-boyfriend who attended New York University. She said the three-hour time difference between the two coasts negatively affected her first quarter at UCSC because she would stay up in order to talk to him.
“I refused to do my work and just never slept, because I would wait for him to wake up because of the time difference,” she said. “And I would watch things until the morning, things that reminded me of him. Sounds silly now that I think about it.”
Although that relationship ended, Pederson is still open to the idea of a long-distance courtship, as long as it’s in California and no more than 400 miles away from Santa Cruz.
“I would do it for certain people, but they would have to be in the same state,” Pederson said. “Local is better, but I kind of prefer a long-distance relationship because then I don’t get sick of the person as fast.”
Pederson does have a point, but for me, I’ve had enough miles between me and my partners that now I would rather date local or not at all.
So for my San Francisco beau, things will have to come to an end. I might tell him, “I don’t think we should see each other anymore, our relationship isn’t green enough.” Or in a more positive way, “You’re good for me, just not good for the earth.” As an environmentalist, I’m sure he’ll understand.
And now, instead of hauling 70 miles for love and affection, I’ll see what Santa Cruz has to offer by checking out the Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers Market, where I can shop for fresh produce and a local love. Perhaps next week, somewhere between the avocados and padron peppers, I can add more than just food to my reusable shopping bag.