Friday, July 4, 2008
After this week's vitriol and/or blasphemy (if you're truly devoted to the Green movement) it may come as a surprise to learn that I am actually entirely for conservation efforts, protecting ecosystems, reducing pollution, and just generally all of the principles behind it.
What I am trying to get at is that true environmental change will not come from swapping your bleach for a "plant-based ethanol" cleanser (just buy a bottle of bottom-shelf vodka--it's probably cheaper and does a better job). It means, above all, using less. You can't toss out what you don't buy, you can't waste what electricity you're not using, and you can't pollute with what you don't have to throw away. The rest, eating less meat, eating less "crap" (anything that comes out of a package) in general, being more aware of what you throw away, reusing what you can, and recycling, are all just icing on the cake.
It also means getting real about the changes you make in your life. We've swapped out most of the cleansers in favor of a homemade concoction. We make our own laundry detergent, and line-dry all of our clothes (well, that's actually because we can't afford a dryer...). The random-crap closet (I'm a rather artistic sort, so I need to keep my stuff somewhere) is organized using old house-paint buckets, scraped clean. Most of the furniture in our apartment was built, or inherited as gifts/cast-offs from relatives. We ride secondhand bikes. And the biggest meat-eaters around are our two cats.
Now, I don't expect everybody to do the same--though if everybody did the carbon emission problem would probably vanish overnight (relatively speaking, a few years in earth-time). But I think it's safe to say that what we do has a greater impact on the planet than the trendy yuppie who buys organic strawberries in the dead of winter and puts them in the trunk of his hybrid SUV. The environmental impact of that guy is more of a mixed bag, because he's got so many factors going both for and against him. Yes, his SUV is a "hybrid" (in that the battery is used to give more power to the engine), so it gets slightly better mileage. And let's not kid ourselves on how much gas it takes to move those organic strawberries from Argentina, either.
The point is, it all comes down to a matter of less--less stuff, fewer complications. Fewer complications, and the easier it will be to move us to a more planet-friendly place. Less really is more, in this case.