Monday, December 1, 2008

Going Green... reluctantly

I am going to republish this post that I originally published this past summer. I am republishing because I wanted to thank Mama Goes Green for the awesome reusable shopping bags that I won in the SITS-a-thon contest. I got 3 super cool reusable bags for groceries, Wal-Mart purchases, whatevah. Also I got 4 reusable produce bags to contain anything from asparagus to zucchini. These bags are very cute and, even better - I got them FREE! Go visit her website and check out all her suggestions about how to make your journey to the "green side" less painful. (I really like this post about how to have a Green Christmas.)

Our move to urban Texas has been filled with surprises. I guess we should have been prepared for some of them, considering we were moving from the country. In the rural midwest everything is more relaxed: you can drive your 4-wheeler around town on the streets, dogs and cats pretty much run around wherever they want to, and when it comes to garbage you can basically build a firepit in your backyard and start a bonfire with magazines, leaves, grass clippings, even the "bad" stuff like plastic bags full of trash. I know, I know... I am contributing to global warming... the hole in the ozone... leaving a sasquatch-sized footprint on the earth. But, to my credit, I did stop using Aqua Net aerosol hairspray when perms went out of style.

But, none the less, when our nearest neighbor is 5o feet away, not .5 miles away, we just can't have the freedom to contaminate our own personal space the way we used to. We have come along, kicking and screaming, on the RECYCLING bandwagon. Okay, I know what you're going to say. Recycling is not a bandwagon, it is the way of the future. The only way to save our planet. But, (insert whiny voice here) it's such a pain! I mean, you have to set aside all those bottles and milkjugs and paper, you have to look at the number on the plastic to see if it's a 1, or a 2 or God forbid a #7! The biggest offender in our household is the dreaded disposable baby diaper. I do admit that every time I change Baby Sally's diaper I feel bad for the giant landfill I'm contributing to, and for my great-great-great-great-great-grandchild who will live in a city built upon it. I try to help the green movement by only changing the baby sporadically. After all, what's a little diaper rash in the face of global peace? Maybe by then they'll have a way to change the offending diaper chemicals into a non-toxic pesticide. Or fertilizer. Or food for the hungry. Those scientists are geniuses. If they can clone a sheep, I bet they can do lots more.

I feel like I should be a responsible parent, leading by example, tossing my water bottles and Diet Coke cans and pizza boxes (oh no, I forget, I can't recycle those) into the green box with the arrows on it. Better yet, I can use glass milk bottles (read: pay the same for a 1/2 gallon as I do for a whole gallon in the plastic jug) and buy ready-made pizza (wrapped in the 1000-year-to-degrade plastic wrap) instead of ordering out. So how is a person supposed to live in a completely earth-friendly eco system?

I saw an episode of 30 days, produced by Morgan Spurlock (who also did "Supersize Me") which I rented from Netflix. Netflix is one of my MOST favorite things, but that is for a future blog. In this episode, called "Off The Grid", two folks from New York went to live in an eco-friendly community for 30 days. In Dancing Rabbit EcoVillage, there is only solar electricity, all food eaten is grown and harvested on-site (read: no meat, although the man of the New York pair did hunt for and kill a rabbit, much to the distaste of some of the commune members), and even their diesel car was re-engineered to run on vegetable oil, which they collected from local fast-food restaurants after it was no longer usable for human consumption. They said it smelled like a french-fry car. Yum. Everyone at the EcoVillage seemed more laid back. That is, until the residents smelled hair spray, perfume, and other "products" that were polluting their air. Boy that got them stinkin mad.

So is that what we will be reduced to in a matter of years? Driving around in electric or french-fry cars? Paying twice as much for everything to reduce our trash output by only about 20%? I don't think so. I think there are many more folks who will buck the system and continue to use styrofoam cups and throw their aluminum cans in the trash. Recycling may be the wave of the future but I have a feeling it may go the way of the metric system. If you don't know how to use the metric system, you get the point.

Even with the cars. Yes, gas prices are coming down, but for how long? Yes, alternate fuel vehicles are becoming more popular. But Americans are just too egocentric (me included) to inconvenience themselves for the betterment of the earth. For example, I rented a van this summer, after my car accident, which ran on Flex Fuel. I was all for putting the Flex Fuel in the vehicle, but I drove to 3 separate stations without finding a pump. I was not about to drive all over town to get that fuel. So, I used regular old unleaded (which Enterprise told me would be okay). I thought to myself, "Well I HAD considered buying one of those Fex Fuel Chevy Tahoes, but if I can't even get gas for it in my hometown, let alone in some town I don't know, forget it!" See, America has so many problems ahead of them before the car industry can catch up. Towns are too spread out. Public transportation is not widely available. Americans are selfish about their cars - I mean, how many working adults even participate in a carpool? And I'm not talking about the under-16 crowd piling together to go to school. I mean the actual adults who have a CHOICE to share breathing space with other adults who have bad breath, B.O., annoying habits, etc. Face it, we like to be alone in the safe confines of our vehicles where we can sing out loud to Madonna, pick our noses, and arrive or depart at whatever time we damn well please.

So what's a mom with impressionable kids to do? Well, first off, I try to support what they're being taught about recycling at school, given what they are learning isn't bunk. If my kids want to save the earth, hug a tree, and live in a mud hut when they grow up, I figure, let them dream and they can learn to be pessimistic later. Also, I promise I will try to separate my aluminum cans from my coffee grounds and my plastic bottles from my plastic wrap. So for now I will try to remember to put my big green recycling tub at the curb once every week. And when my kids throw away a Kleenex and see a Diet Coke can in the trash, they will inevitably remind me, "Mom, we have to recycle this!" to which I will sheepishly respond, "Oh, THANK YOU for reminding me...."


Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

You SO did not use Aquanet. You used that Freeze Spray. What was the maker of it. I wanted to reference that in my recent flashback post, but I couldn't think of it.

I get you on this post. I also have a tough time with going green. I will look into a more fuel efficient car next time, but until the infrastructure gets established for flex fuel or alt. fuel cars, I won't be buying in. I do recycle, but we are so limited and it costs to do it. I think that is the problem. It is inconvenient. In Canada, it was easy to recycle, TO AN EXTENT, but they did not come to your curb. You had to take it there. However, you had to pay per bag of trash, so you were more incentivized to take most to the recycle place. Once every couple of weeks, we would take the papers, the milk jugs, the tin cans, etc. to the recycle place.

We paid a deposit on all beverage containers, so that was SUPER incentive to take in. Imagine our beer fridge and then add $.10/bottle on that. Yeah, we would take that back and have enough for another 12 pack on the way home.


Kathy said...

Great Post! I live in rural Texas, there is some recycling you have to do because I am sick of hauling trash! Some I refuse to do, one square comes to mind (gotta be kidding me!)!

Glad to find you through Christine!

Love to find Texans or those that appreciate it!

Jen said...

You are so doing your part. Good for you. But you know something that you really shouldn't reuse or recycle?

A Turd!

hahahaha, I am killing myself LOL!!!

E said...

Yes yes yes. And in Vermont where I live next to the whole crunchy granola LL Bean committee we are supposed to compost too! I can barely manage to separate the glass. I am not saving my not even in the new thing that fits in your freezer to eliminate natural smells...Puhleease