You’ve probably heard by now about the Bush Administration covering up evidence of melting icecaps.
20,000 musk oxen starved to death in the arctic because of a phenomenon called a “rain on snow event”. Rain falls on snow, turns to ice. Oxen come by and try to dig with their hooves for the grass under the snow. But they can’t break the ice. So they die.
Meanwhile, New England is having one of the coldest, wettest summers ever. There’s mold growing in my closet and I can’t get the moisture out of the carpet. And I live on the third floor.
And around me all I hear about how it’s too much work to change people’s habits, and we’re all screwed anyway ’cause nothing we do will take effect for another fifty years, and we don’t live in the arctic or the tropics or a third world country, so why bother.
So! It’s time for another big long ranting list of stuff I really hope I can get you to start doing to reduce your environmental footprint, in hopes of preventing myself from drowning in impotent rage and guilt. Fun!
Compost. It’s not that hard. You already learned how to recycle. It’s just one more container. Corn husks, banana peels, apple cores, carrot stubs, coffee grounds, tea leaves, untreated paper, eggshells, etc., etc. Keep it in a sealed tub; when the tub fills up, empty it in a heap in the backyard, in the same place you put your leaves and grass clippings. Aerate it once in awhile with a shovel. In a couple months, you’ll have some fine, fertile dirt. No, animals won’t get into it–not if you don’t try to compost bones or meat. No, you don’t have to lay off during the winter. Cold slows down decomposition, but doesn’t stop it. Decomposition produces heat!
You can even compost if you don’t have a backyard. Learn about vermiculture. It is super cool.
Consume less. For example:
- Get ice cream in a cone instead of a cup. Ice cream cones taste good and are fun. And then you don’t have to throw away the cup and spoon.
- Stop buying bottled water. Filter your own water, and drink it from a container you’re not going to throw away when it’s empty. Recycling isn’t perfect, and chances are you’re just paying them to bottle tap water anyway. And ship it to you from Fiji. Expending fossil fuels in the process.
- Stop buying coffee. See above. I don’t care if it comes in recyclable unbleached paper cups now. Make your own. Then you don’t need a recyclable unbleached paper cup.
Recycle. Learn the rules of recycling in your town, and follow them, for real, all the time. If you work in a different town than you live in, learn those rules too. Hassle your co-workers about it. If they see you picking their plastic and aluminum out of the trash enough times, they’ll quit throwing it away out of guilt. I’ve seen it happen. No, you should not feel guilty for making other people feel guilty. Guilt is the only thing that’s going to get anybody to change. Why else do you think Bush covered up those satellite photos?
Reuse. Brew beer like me! Then you don’t even need to recycle. Drink out of the same glass bottles over and over until they break.
Buy food grown locally. Tomatoes shipped to your megamart from a thousand miles away taste like cardboard. Local tomatoes by comparison are a revelation on the tongue, and nobody had to spray them with chemicals or burn a lot of gas getting them to you. The same is true of pretty much everything else you can get at the supermarket. If you can buy something locally, do so.
Grow food. It’s not hard. You have a window. Get a window box. Plant herbs.
Read labels. Don’t just accept that because your dishwashing detergent now comes with green dye and a tree on the label that you’re allowed to feel better about yourself. Repackaging the same horrible stuff and trying to pretend like it’s environmentally conscious is just as bad as trying to cover up the satellite photos of the receding arctic ice.
Educate people. If any of what I am saying is getting through to you, try to get it through to somebody else. Even if it pisses them off. Think of it this way: not trying might keep them happy, but it pisses me off.
Suck it up. Do without.
Trade in your gas guzzler. I’m doing it. Obviously it’s not for everyone, but if they’re going to throw money at us, might as well try and catch some of it. If you have a big old car, trade it in for a little new car. Doesn’t have to be a hybrid or anything. Just a bottom-of-the-line, sensible hatchback.
I could go on. I still feel guilty and filled with impotent rage. But I’ve probably alienated you by now anyway. And I’m not sorry.