24 June 2009

Curly bubs

I want to save the world. I used to despair because I knew I couldn't. I'm older and I hope a little wiser now, and I'm beginning to see that I have to do all that I can as an individual to make my footprint as small as possible. (I have really big feet.) And then I have to try to pass on my attitude to anyone else the least bit susceptible.

I am not a proselytizer, so I guess I will have to charm people into it. Hmmmm. I may get an idea here in a moment. I know that all of my regular readers care about taking care of the planet, and I don't want to be preaching to the choir. Instead, I'll tell you what we do, and you tell me more things I can do.

Down here you'll hear people call light bulbs "bubs." I have to say that this particular pronunciation cracks me up when I hear it. I like to call those energy efficient bulbs "curly bubs." Even though the color of the light takes some getting used to and I have to let the bedroom light warm up before it puts out enough light to read by, we replaced all the bubs that we could with the curly kind. We try not to leave lights burning when we're not in a room, although I am guilty of that sometimes when I'm alone and the house seems really still and dark.

I take my own shopping bags with me to the store. It's no trouble at all to keep a tote full of shopping bags by the front door or in the car, and you don't have to carry home those nasty bags that get stuck in trees and line the ditches and gather in the sea and choke turtles and cause cows to starve. That plastic bag you brought home can last a thousand years on the earth. The U.S. uses 100 billion bags a year and only 2 percent of those are recycled. All of the plastic ever made still exists on the earth. That scares me.

It's like the Mart of Wal - I stole that phrase from the Evil Twin's Wife - is working for the devil the way they put one item in each bag so that when you get home you have enough bags to fill up a bag and you have to remember to return it to the store next time you go. Don't let them palm them off on you. I don't know what kind of thrill they get from contributing so much to an island of plastic trash the size of Texas that floats in the Pacific. Hey, that's my ocean; I was born on an island in the middle of it.

Woooooooooo. I am finished preaching. I don't find that charming, and charm was my plan just a few paragraphs above.

Our water heater is gas, and I would prefer electricity because the rates are cheaper, but as a renter I have nothing to say about that. I only wash a full load of wash, and I run the dishwasher once or twice a week. That does mean more rinsing, but I don't get carried away with it.

I drive one of the Woodsman's vehicles, and I drive 4.2 miles a day to work and back. 21 miles a week, 84 miles a month. I fill the tank every six to eight weeks. I do believe that if I want to put my money where my mouth is I would walk or ride the bus, but I don't. I like to be the captain of my ship. I don't drive far is as much as I can say for myself. When I'm a more experienced purposeful walker, I will see if I can make that walk.

I buy cotton clothes. I know that cotton sucks up water and soil nutrients, but my body rebels at the synthetics. I want nothing slinky or plastic or shiny on my skin. (If someone doesn't invent a comfortable bra by the time I'm sixty, things are going to get ugly.) Besides, synthetics are produced from oil. I have cotton clothing that is ten years old and has been taken in four sizes and was just dyed two weeks ago and I'm still wearing it and I'm going to continue another couple of years. So that saves.

We recycle. It's easy here because the city trucks pick it up at the curb once a week. We don't even have to sort it anymore. Part of recycling for me is taking clothes and household items I can no longer use somewhere to wait for a new home. I don't like to throw things away.

I make one bag of trash that can't be reused or recycled every two weeks. Two bags a month. I buy products that are lightly packaged so that I won't have much waste. Look at the picture at the head of this post to see how much packaging comes in month's worth of the stop-smoking drug Chantix. The tiny pills would fit in a tiny bottle.

I also look for products that can be refilled at a savings to me and the earth. Grandma used to have a compact of silver that accommodated a cake of powder in an aluminum tray. She had that same compact for years and years. She just bought a powder refill and dropped it in. I bought refillable pens, and the office stores don't stock the refills and don't want to be bothered to special order a small number of them.

The air-conditioning is an ethical dilemma for me. I used to hate the winter, one of the reasons I left Illinois, but now I cannot stand to be hot. I overheat easily, like an old car. The older I get, the more I hate the heat and the humidity. I make do with fans as much as I can. I leave the thermostat set on 80 degrees Fahrenheit. That's the line I shouldn't have to cross; I shouldn't have to be hotter than 80 degrees. I hate using the electricity, paying a big electric bill, but I can't sleep very well, and not at all if my sheets are damp and wrinkled and hot.

And then there's meat. Do I want to make that decision? I can't stand to watch a video of how pigs live before they are killed for meat, so why do I want to eat it, contributing to those practices? Good question. There seems to be only one answer when the question is asked that way. Raise your own or go without.

All my efforts sound somewhat half-hearted. Full of compromises. And the more I learn, the worse the situation sounds. I heard that driving a Hummer for a year causes no more pollution and uses no more resources than using as much toilet paper as a woman uses in a year. I hope to hell that I heard that wrong.

So will you tell me what you do to save the planet? What are your tricks for conserving resources? Is conservation legislated where you live? Do you think our outlook is bleak?


The Green Stone Woman said...

I use curly bubs all over my apartment too and carefully watch packaging materials, so I don't create much waste, take my own shopping bag to the store and eat the smallest amount of meat I possibly can while still staying healthy and getting some protein in my limited diet. (I don't like the way pigs are raised and transported either) I ride my bike everywhere I go or use the bus, I don't own a car. I don't waste energy and leave the heater off unless it gets too cold in here. First I put on warmer clothes. That and a dozen other little things help me try to make my footprint smaller.

powdergirl said...

I don't think that sounds half-hearted, it sounds like you put a lot of thought into your foot-print and do your part.

Good for you!

Also a great incentive to keep striding out. sister! ; D

Have your tried a sports bra? Custom shops around here are relatively inexpensive and do a great job.

SugarCain said...

Irene (I'm trying to think your name with the proper pronunciation now that I know what it is), I want to do away with the car. My mom didn't have a car after she and my dad divorced, and she'd walk blocks to work before it was light outside. My grandma, her mother, never learned to drive and walked everywhere. If only it wasn't so hot! Thanks for the encouragement.

powdergirl, No sports bra yet, but it's on the list. Thanks for the comment; apparently not too many found this topic as riveting as I do. I'm looking to improve and feel like I'm doing a little more all the time.

Jeff9 said...

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