The green movement is a weird one, doncha’ think? I live in the South, home of the evangelical fundamentalist southern Baptist, yet I have never met anyone more pushy than a Green person. Either they’re preaching against certain lifestyles because they’re adding to the greenhouse emissions or they’re scoffing at the glass bottle in the garbage can that someone didn’t take to the recycle bin. They openly tell me I’m ruining the planet with my use of disposable diapers when I’m really just trying to be funny. They are VERY SERIOUS. Do not mess with them.
And the opposition is just as extreme. I’ve heard more heated arguments debating the cause of climate change than the existence of God. It’s a weird era, to say the least.
But here’s the thing that frustrates me the most: So many people seem to miss the point. Does it matter what, if anything, is even causing climate change? Does it matter if the hole in the ozone was caused by man or by nature? Does it matter if recycling actually consumes more energy than waste-disposal? Does it matter if you’re a tree-hugging, baby-killing liberal or a god-fearing, conservative? I guess it matters to some, and on some levels should matter to all. But – doesn’t much of that seem to miss the point? Or maybe not that it misses the point, but that it takes away focus from the simplest, yet most important of ideas: Waste Less.
We — as US citizens and wealthy humans on a planet with finite resources — should quit throwing away so much crap. WASTE LESS. Why isn’t everyone just using that motto? Can anyone argue with that? Is there anyone out there that honestly thinks our society isn’t wasteful? If so, they need to walk down my street and see the garbage each house produces in 7 days. Does anyone actually think that we should continue abusing natural resources? Is there anyone that says we should be throwing more crap away?
My family and I are wasteful. I can say that very honestly. We are actually very wasteful. Not as wasteful as some, I’m sure. But no where near as resourceful as my Dad who saved yogurt cups (back when they were actual cups) to use as drinking cups on camping trips. He had a backpack that had a hole in it so he cut out the zipper pouch from the front and used that as a bag for small tools. He made furniture out of old wooden crates (Right, Dad? Isn’t that what the TV stand is made out of?) and rescued a plethora of trashed equipment on the job to use in science fairs and in many ways around our house. I have never met anyone who re-uses more than my father. Once, he explained it that growing up in a big family on a farm, you learned to save everything in case you needed it later and (a) didn’t have a 24-hour Wal-Mart down the road or (b) couldn’t afford to buy the item if you did. So you use pencils until they are too small to write with, and pens until the ink runs dry. You use both sides of the paper and save mis-matched socks for dust rags.
The older (And possibly wiser? Nah. Surely not.) I get, the more I want to do the same.
MrZ and I have always held to the “Be Less Wasteful” mindset, but the manifestation of it has been a little lacking. Except for one area: We rarely, if ever, throw away food. That’s one thing we really don’t waste. We eat leftovers until they’re gone. We take food very seriously. But everything else? Not so much. We’re just busy. It’s easier to throw stuff away than to decide if it can be re-used in anyway.
However, we recently started watching this show that has inspired me in ways I just don’t know how to explain. It’s a show on the Sundance Channel called “It’s Not Easy Being Green”. It’s about the most fascinating family ever. I won’t bore you with the details except for the husband (engineer) and wife (hippy) prove that two different views on the world can still bring you to the same place in life: Where We Try To Be More Responsible Citizens Of This Planet. (Also, their son is cute and is always shirtless. Bonus.) This show does not preach politics. It simply shows one family trying to change their life. Become self-sustaining. They are just trying to learn and it motivates me to do the same. We’re not going to be driving a hybrid anytime soon because we can’t afford a new car. I don’t know how to sew so making use of old clothing may not be an option. The wife on the show is always talking about doing “Whatever You Can.” Not everyone can build a water-wheel on their property to power their lights. But we can try to create less waste. And that’s what we’ve been trying to do.
Before we throw things away now, we stop and just think if it could be used in anyway. Now, Huntsville has a Waste-to-Energy facility so we can throw away with less guilt than the average person. But – we are trying not to. We are not going to start using re-usable maxi pads (sorry, not there yet) but we are saving bread bags to use a lunch bags. We use grocery bags to line the trashcans. We are using both sides of the paper. It’s nothing ground-breaking. We’re not going to win any awards. But we are taking steps to using less. No matter what side of the “GREEN” argument you are on – you must admit – we use faster than the earth gives back. And we are just trying to tip that scale a little bit. One re-used diaper box at a time.