During World War II, ordinary people like you and me, put much of their energies into helping the war effort. Mothers went to work in the factories, kids were encouraged to pick up metal from the scrap heaps, hemp prohibition was suspended and industry ramped up its production, all in a united rally of goodwill and enthusiasm.
People will do that for war and it’s grand. But will they do that for peace? We have seen what we can do when we are united. What does it take for us to do that again? We do it when the nation’s leaders ask it of us. Millions of us will do as we are asked by authority. But we don’t do much of our own accord, through our own initiative. Why are we millions just sitting around waiting for someone to “save” us or “lead” us? Why can’t we get involved ourselves and make a splash right from where we happen to be?
We have known that burning fossil fuels is endangering our atmosphere. It’s nasty stuff anyway. Why aren’t we by now, using renewable energies? Solar panels haven’t modernized since the 1970’s, I can remember, I was there! I thought that by the 21st century, we’d be living like the Jetsons or better. I truly believed people get better because people keep building on what we learned from the past.
So many people still look to government to arrange something but the government is not there. The government is doing something else — working to make fossil fuel companies ever richer. We would be dumb chimps if we were to think that anything good is going to come from that neck of the woods.
However we can do so much ourselves. I want to share with you what I have been doing. I really have a great time too. It is juicy to imagine more and better ways to live as small a carbon footprint as imaginable.
I am very conscious of energy use. I fill the dishwasher before running a cycle. Many people rinse their dishes so they can’t tell if the ones in there are clean or dirty — well I don’t do that. No rinsing, just taking food off, of course. I use the least harmful detergent, but one that cleans — doing the dishes over is not a good idea because it goes into our waterways and it is also a wasteful habit. While we’re in the kitchen, things that have to be washed by hand, are done by filling up a bowl or a small saucepan that are already in the washing pile and using that as a sink, lathering the soap on each item and putting them aside and gathering them to be rinsed once the soap on the sponge had expired. Then I rinse the items off under really hot water so they sparkle and let them to dry. That water from the rinse is used to refill the little “sink” I keep using until all the dishes are done and wash that one last. To me it’s a challenge to see how well I can enjoy my life with the minimum of resources. Environmentalists ought to have championships to see who can wash the dishes the cleanest in the minimum amount of water and detergent.
I don’t use toss-away paper products. I never use tissues — why? Hankies were invented decades ago. Why blow your nose on the backs of trees that are slashed and exploited? And all the resources that go into transporting them around? There is so much material that we could have hankies coming out of our noses.
Paper hand towels — this one I don’t understand at all. I know they feel good but the trees! Think about the trees. And all this I must add, totally offends me. It would be the easiest thing in the world to use terry towels to wipe your hands on. Everywhere I go I see this abuse of my planet. And yours. But what I see is everyone waiting for the criminal syndicate running the country to do something good about it. That doesn’t happen, though they have thrown some crumbs. So what? Well maybe we could be living better than the Jetsons.
I buy organic as much as possible as I care about my health and the health of those I love. Now the merchandisers are putting two organic vegetables together on a cardboard tray base, then wrapping it all in plastic. I don’t want their fucking packaging. Why isn’t everyone annoyed about this? So what I do then is buy the conventional produce that is free of all packaging because I would take that even with the pesticides rather than contribute to more unnecessary trash, and the transportation of these products to get them to the stores. I don’t buy anything that is over packaged. I either go without or use another brand that is of satisfactory quality but with the least packaging. Surely other organic aficionados notice these things too? Why would commerce sell even one item like that if nobody bought them? I would think that if you were a person who was aware of health you’d realize that we’re polluting the planet beyond recognition and therefore you would not buy fresh foods that are packaged.
I don’t like using plastic utensils when I am away from home so I carry a little “wallet” that holds a set of bamboo utensils — fork, knife and spoon and I use this when I eat in places where they only provide disposable utensils. The wallet is light and is easily added to my handbag. I’d love to have a bowl or plate that was compact and could be carried around in my bag too.
When I go the bathroom, I use what I call “tush napkins”. I have so much fun with these you wouldn’t believe! I use material rectangles instead of toilet paper but TMI — I only use them for Number 1. I used to use the flannelet from my son’s diapers for these tush napkins and they lasted for ages. They were rectangles about 8” x 5”. What’s the perfect size? It’s up to you. You know how narrow toilet paper can get and it’s just plain not nice to use. But I got bored with the flannelet ones as they were just white and now I use bright colored South American-looking tush napkins with toucans in a brightly colored forest. I embroider the edges so they don’t fray. And it just makes having a pee a little more novel. These bright tushies are longer, about 12” by 5” and I find the shape much more enjoyable to use. Why can’t even little things like this be enjoyable! Recently, I added some teal-colored embroidery on the edgings all while listening to a series of Terence McKenna lectures on youtube - it was a blast! Every moment of life to me is a blast.
I gave up flying about 6 years ago even though I am an immigrant and could use seeing my family. I can’t believe environmentalists fly all over the place, it seems, without a thought. I can understand people flying if there is an emergency like a family member that may be signing out, or for business purposes. Although even for business purposes, air travel is rarely avoided or even attempted to be avoided by the management. It just isn’t on the radar of anyone’s mind. Not a thought is put about using the internet and holding meetings online. Sure it’s not face-to-face and that’s all lovely, but we have a climate emergency!!! Hello~~~
A friend told me how his sister landed in Orlando and remembered she left an outfit back in New York that she wanted to wear at a function in Orlando, so she flew back to NY solely get the outfit. When they told me that story at a family dinner — silence. I didn’t even know what to say about that. It’s beyond words. It says so much about a person that indulges like this.
Conferences on sustainability or green energy never count the carbon footprint they themselves cost. Not just the travel to and from the location, but the catering and all that’s associated with that. What we should be counting, folks, is our carbon footprint, not notes issued by gangsters. That’s how our systems should be geared to make sense. We should be putting all our energies, like we do for war, into sharing ideas about how we could be living a tiny carbon footprint and what we are ourselves are doing. And we share these ideas with each other.
We have no right to say that people in under-developed countries need to lower their population. The per capita carbon footprint of each American is many times more than theirs. Under what logic do people think that those in other countries — that barely use a thing — should be told how many children they should have when we burn such a humongous carbon footprint compared to them? How about instead of asking others to change, we lift ourselves up by the bootstraps and do something about our own carbon footprint? Then we’d have some integrity in dictating to other nations how many kids they should have. We can tell each other what we are doing, get excited about changing the world this way, and spread the vitality. How about that? I know, it isn’t war but come on.
I don’t eat meat. I always struggled with that one as I am a “foodie” and love to cook delights. I could never crack it and kept falling prey to reneging (if you’ll pardon the pun) on my commitment. I knew about animals and all the horrors, so I started by giving up pork. I never bought pork after that but I would buy other meats. Until I saw the movie “Earthlings”. Firstly, I didn’t sleep for a week after seeing that movie. I just wanted to cry and tear my hair out at what humans are about. I am a member of this species. And I don’t want to be. And secondly, it was the cure I needed because it was not hard for me to give up meat after watching that movie.
What else? Hmm, I do a lot of funny things like not driving unless I have two or more things to perform. I am very conscious of car travel but I still use a car. I don’t espouse austerity — I’ll leave that to the politicians to espouse (what could be more ridiculous! Who wants austerity? Is that all they can offer?) I believe we should use things as we need and be generous to ourselves and each other, but we must not waste. I really do not like eating meat anymore but if someone at my table leaves meat and I am hungry I will eat it because I don’t want the animal to have died in vain. To throw away meat from animals that have been killed, let alone tortured all their lives, even though I don’t want to, I will, because it is nutrition. And I know the animal understands.
I occasionally eat meat maybe four times a year but it has to come from the most humanely treated animals.
I don’t buy anything new. That’s right. I always look for used. It sometimes takes me quite some time to find what I want. And often I have so much fun finding things to fit the bill. Like the other day when my friend gave me an atomizer. I’ve been checking out second hand shops for one of those for ages and never came across one I liked. But my friend had a nice one and didn’t need it so she gave it to me. Sharing — we need to realize how powerful that is.
I’ve joined numerous groups to learn how to live sustainably — green buildings, alternative energies, hemp workshops, soil seminars, growing food courses, workshops, seminars and on and on. I’ve joined countless “sustainability groups”. And all they do is talk about changing legislation. We’re at this emergency stage, mind you, and still they hold their cap to government, supplicating it and expecting that something just might, one day, one very special day, the day they’ve been hoping for, will finally come about. Meanwhile what could we be doing? It’s been years, nothing has come about, yet they continue to wait for politicians to make policy changes.
We could be sending a huge “fuck you” to the government and the corporations if we just simply didn’t buy their products and we shared what we had with each other. To make us find each other easily, we could develop apps that would search using the criteria WE programmed, unlike google. I hate using gmail, I hate using anything we are corralled into using, especially a rotten self-aggrandizing outfit like google. I feel like a teenager at puberty, I just hate so much. And don’t tell me not to hate. It’s not the people I hate, I hate what they do. And everyone should. They don’t though because they do it too and get benefits.
All the groups and nothing changes. That’s because they are waiting for somebody — government — and they keep supplicating and losing and supplicating and losing some more. It’s beyond my understanding. They purport to care about the environment. That must be bullshit. They are invested in this system too. It’s because of money. Many of them are scientists so they know, they really know the danger zone we’re in. They should be screaming from the rafters. They should be never letting up. But you barely hear a pipsqueak. Yes, they have a reputation for being reticent.
Why do we sit at traffic lights waiting for pedestrian lights to finish when there are often no pedestrians present? Now if you notice, most people don’t, I’m weird like this, notice that towns and cities are spending your taxpayers money on fitting these automatic pedestrian lights at intersections. So there’s that cost. And these lights now stop traffic on four directions instead of the traditional two. All it seems to accomplish is to allow pedestrians to cross diagonally, yet still most of them use the perpendicular method anyway. That though, is beside the point and if you’re so spoiled that you think everyone has to wait a third longer for your pleasure to walk diagonally, then pardon me but I have no sympathy for you.
These lights don’t bring much more than that, yet it means that they have increased the delay by one extra cycle, about 30% because they hold up four directions of traffic instead of the traditional two. Sure there are some intersections where automatic pedestrian lights make sense, but they are few. Why can’t we have smart traffic lights, like we have smart phones and smart AI— that can tell the density of traffic approaching, and time the red so that it causes minimum delay to the most cars? And why on a side street, do sensors stop untold numbers of main-road traffic, just to let one car get the green, almost immediately? Surely it uses less aggregate energy for one car to wait a few seconds while a bunch of cars on the main road go by without having to come to a fast halt. Why can’t the sensors be smart, and read the volume of traffic on major roads, to make travel up ahead run smoother and cause less delays?
There’s more they can do but I won’t get that dry on ya! Ask if you want to know, but we are being scammed at traffic lights and people have no idea. Imagine if a traffic light at every cycle, delays travelers by 5 seconds unnecessarily. Imagine the aggregate of those delays, of sitting at a dumb traffic light and letting minutes of your life slip through the hour glass unnecessarily?
The thing in this fucked up society is that we don’t count things in the proper way. We need to count the aggregate energy, not just the amount of energy in the single parts. Count all the time it would cost travelers at those lights. Add that up over the weeks and months and years. If you add up all the time you are unnecessarily delayed because of dumb traffic lights, it comes to a heck of a lot. This is our life, and we are not only wasting it, but we’re burning gas and polluting at ground level and atmospheric levels, and that’s not too good for pedestrians either! Pedestrian lights need to go back to changing in accordance with the direction of car traffic (so that the road that’s being crossed has cars stopped on red) and the pedestrian walks in the same direction as the cars that get the green. This is the 21st century — these dumb traffic lights have been around too long without innovation.
Try calculating the number of cars at most traffic lights that delay for (say) 5 seconds then multiply that by the number of times the light turns red and then multiply it by the number of cars at each stop and multiply it by the number of times it occurs in a 24 hour period. That’s a fucking lot of gas wasted! For nothing.
You see, we could be doing so much more! And having a grand old time at it too. Because going renewable is something new, something wonderful, something we all want to do. So why aren’t we doing it? Why are we waiting for someone else to round us up? Do it from where you are. Then add some challenge. Then add some more challenge each time you step up to the plate and practice one improvement that you didn’t yesterday or last month. This will give us the necessary practice of “right thinking” and, because it creates necessity, (rather than simply deferring to going along with the current) that will trigger a cascade off creativity.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it with fossil fuels. Those companies’ days should have been over by now. We are still subsidizing them remember! Why? Why? Nobody speaks up about this, not even Bill McKibben or Noami Klein. They don’t talk about plants that can replace the petrochemical industry, plants like hemp and kenaf. These plants have hundreds of industrial uses and because they are plants, they sequester carbon. Unlike the fossil fuel industry which pumps out carbon.
So what are we doing still prohibiting hemp? Why aren’t we coming up with the technology for counting our footprint? This matters very much. We have the tools now. Maybe you or your friend can create an app that can streamline a part of the action? Ordinary people have the capacity to do so much more than wait, wait, wait, for government. And we could also be doing a lot to conserve energy and while we ramp up the renewable energy sector, we could literally transform the world by doing this, and doing it as easily as I posit.
What are we waiting for? What are you waiting for? Each one of us can take a bag to the supermarket surely? And stop buying things packaged in Styrofoam or anything that has too much packaging. This will send a huge signal. We should return all packaging back to the store we bought it from. When I purchase a product, I don’t want the packaging in almost 100% of the things I buy nor do I want to pay for it. Make the store owners as accountable as you — dump it back on them. Don’t let them get away with getting off scott free. Caring for the environment is EVERYBODY’S business. Talking hasn’t helped. We’ve been talking for years. They have proven they do not give a damn.
Get a durable water bottle instead of purchasing disposable water bottles. And don’t use a straw unless you really need one. Bartenders! There is no need to put a straw in every glass, in any glass. We can drink directly form the glass you know! This practice is wasteful and unnecessary. Millions of straws are produced every day. It’s offensive to see this go on. Same with lids on paper coffee or tea cups, if you’re drinking them in the store, there is no need for lids. They make the excuse about spilling but that’s bullshit, they don’t have tops on soup bowls and they’re hot too.
Excuses, excuses. I’m tired of seeing everyone destroy MY world, pollute MY world, exploit MY earth creatures. Everything belongs to me and to us. We keep deferring to others for the most puerile reasons, others who have not protected our people nor our lands. We could be doing a lot as individuals and as small intimate groups and networks.
Are we only going to roll up our sleeves for war? There are still so many people who say they would fight for this or that. Well how about not fighting but doing something for good purposes that will benefit humankind forever and turn things around so that we care for our life source and source of beauty and abundance — and reward that behavior? How about getting to work with others and on your own and reduce your carbon footprint drastically? Let’s plan what we want, let’s make mission statements, let’s design systems that undergird the goal of getting ourselves onto renewables and off fossil fuels. Instead of having debt from this side to old age, we use our creativity to plan, design and develop 21st century sustainable and earth-respecting culture. That’s the kind of world I want. And I’m not waiting for the next generation. I want it now. And I’m doing it now.