Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Environmental Conservative

A lot of people say that when you get old er have have more money, one becomes more of a fiscal conservative. I wouldn't want to speak too soon, but I can only foresee my becoming a fiscal conservative if I keep on making so little money, I'd be trying tooth and nail to keep it for myself. What I'm more concerned about is becoming one of those crazy environmentalists people love to loathe.

I jumped on this bandwagon pretty young, and I can remember making a giant earth that covered the entire back of my binder cover with puffy paint, and wrote an award-winning poem titled, "If I Could Give the World a Gift." I even typed it out (on a typewriter). I was amazed when I saw a family that recycled/reused/composted practically everything they used, and took an annual trip to the dump to throw away their one small shopping bag of actual trash. I wanted to be that family.

Since then, I've been somewhat mindful on being on Ed Begley Jr.'s team; being mindful not to waste too much, tried to recycle as much as possible, avoid anything with CFCs, and know my plastics.

Then I started noticing...things. I'd get a little irked when people would opt to trash recyclables instead of recycling them. I started to notice the collection of various styrofoam and plastic cups, bowls and bottles I used that I had full intention to use again and again and again. I started taking home plastic utensils and cups I used when eating out just so I can wash them and use them again.

Now I have my bamboo utensils in my purse, always at the ready, which I use at any chance I get - even at other peoples' places when they're going to use plastic utensils. A lot of the packaging, foil, toilet paper rolls I can get my hands on are saved so I can round them all up and donate to an art center so kids can use them for their art projects. I reuse a lot of containers myself, and avoid buying certain items sometimes because of unnecessary packaging.

I went to a friend's party not that long ago, and when I asked if I could bring anything, I was asked to bring water or hot dog buns. I refused to buy water. I didn't think it was cost-effective to buy bottled water that leeched chemicals bottled in containers that yes, could be recycled, but still used up a lot of energy and resources for its existence. Instead, I bought beer, which seemed like a better use of my money and resources.

There are oftentimes when I secretly cringe inside when there's a lot of preventable waste going on, and sometimes I curse mistakes I make when I'm out and about doing things. I love driving sometimes, but I drive much more efficiently now and rarely turn on the A/C unless I'm pretty much melting.

Along with my dream to own my own home, I dream to have a nice yard where I can set up a compost bin and have a nice garden of herbs and edible plants I can use in my cooking.

More than anything, I'm afraid when I become older and more senile when my Social Graces switch no longer works and I flip out on someone who doesn't recycle. Or when I have a meltdown when I realize how big a carbon footprint a dumb decision of mine has made. Although I like eating meat, I'm always a tinge sad whenever I do eat it some, and I can see myself having violent mood swings at the table while menopausal.

I maybe hope to be as good to the earth as I can, but at the same time, try to maintain a rational, functional, civilized person. There's a happy medium to all this, right?



  1. Ha! I totally emphasize: I've been known to dig recyclables out of the trash at work and transfer them to the bin and leave indignant notes in the kitchen about how soup cans are recyclable.

    Also, in college I wrote a paper about half measures will never solve our environmental crises-- I referenced Zeno's Paradox and felt very smart. Compromise is not, perhaps, my strongest suit.

  2. I am always amazed that people don't know what they can put into their blue recycle bins. I am constantly digging into my trash can to remove things that my guests throw away... here's the list:

  3. Yes, I've been known to look into trash receptacles and dig things out to put in the recycling bin or for me to toss in the sink for me to wash and send to be reused/upcycled.

    It really hurts me to see styrofoam containers thrown away knowing full well it can be recycled.

    Further proof of my craziness: I toted an empty can or PBR in my purse all night just so I knew it would be recycled when I brought it home with me.