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What is a Carborexic?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2014
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A carborexic is someone who has developed an intense level of obsession with living in an environmentally friendly way. This term is a portmanteau of “carbon” as in “carbon emissions” and “anorexic,” an eating disorder in which people attempt to eat as little as possible. Some people feel that carborexia demonstrates an unhealthy level of obsession, while people are heavily committed to an environmentally friendly lifestyle may argue that a carborexic is simply really into caring about the environment.

You may also hear carborexia referred to as “greenorexia” or “deep green,” referencing the slang term “green” used to describe environmentally friendly activities. Many people are growing aware of the fact that the environment is facing a variety of problems, some of which are major, as a result of human activity. Practices like recycling, energy efficiency, and being generally more aware of the environment are widely encouraged, but a carborexic takes these practices to a new level.

For example, many people recycle cans, bottles, and other materials. A carborexic not only recycles, but hunts through the garbage of other people to remove recyclables, ensuring that they are not sent to the landfill. Many people are in the habit of turning out their lights when they aren't in use, while a carborexic might switch off the main breaker when he or she leaves the house, ensuring that no energy is used.

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While living in an environmentally friendly way is certainly laudable, when the obsession becomes all-consuming and people make choices which are extremely inconvenient and personally compromising, people may characterize the desire to live green as unhealthy. For example, refusing to visit a dying family member because it would require air travel would probably be viewed as an unreasonable sacrifice. Turning down the heat in the winter to conserve energy is reasonable, but leaving the heat off and causing family members to get sick is counterproductive.

The concern about carborexia is that people may become so focused on small details that they miss the big picture. Carborexics can also intimidate people who have just started attempting to think about issues like consumption of energy and resources, and someone may see a carborexic as a model for “ideal” behavior and give up on the enterprise, reasoning that they are not willing to reorganize their lives around green living. Carborexics can also be very condescending, suggesting that if people “really cared” about the environment they would choose a carborexic lifestyle, and ignoring the fact that not everyone has the ability to do so.

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