Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting Green: Step 1, don't be a dumbass!

Are you kidding me?!?!? A plastic bag full of plastic water bottles, welcome to my hatred incarnate.

I've been meaning to write for a while about trash. Yes, that's right, trash. Because we all make it, but it's one of those things that we try not to think about. I find that oddly captivating. As an anthropologist at heart I'm one of those wierdos for whom trash is a great exploration into one's tendencies, nature, intention. Archaeology is a brilliant branch of anthropology, but you could also say that it is ultimately the art of studying peoples trash. As a public horticulturist trash is part of my every day. I start every day cleaning up other peoples trash in order to get the garden I maintian back to the way I left it the day before. Some days I will have to spend hours cleaning trash, all simply because someone else chose not to think. And it makes me a total crazy person. Would I prefer to be spending my days doing more horticulture and less grabbing of trash? ...of course.

So let's talk plastics. The plastic bag has become the 21st Century urban tumbleweed.
Everyone gives you a bag. But no one thinks about the bag. It's trash, you don't think about it, until you are walking down the street and you have to pass by someone else's trash and it annoys you. And it should annoy you because someone else's nonthinking is lessening your quality of life. But just because we live in a disposable society where negligence is king doesn't mean it has to be that way. You can avoid the plastic bag, and help educate people how they can too. We can promote thinking and try and ensure that we don't lose our quality of life. If you have accepted a plastic bag that you have since realized you have no use for and it is now in the trash then this clearly applies to you. I am condemning your actions, no question, but I'm not the type to just do that and walk away. To constructively criticize you have to always present some other options or alternatives, and I intend to do that.

I go to the gym to try and de-stress after long days but I leave as enraged, or more(!), than when I arrived. I do some free weights, exercise ball, ab torture, and then move on to cardio. And for thirty minutes I then have to stare at an entire room of plastic water bottles. I feel surrounded by people that don't know how to think, and I go mad. "How can you all be so stupid?" I wonder. I really really don't understand why people will spend money on water and trash this way. You do not know if that water is regulated or tested. At least I don't. If it is I would actually love to know. I know my tap water is regulated and checked and some of the safest water to drink. And it is relatively free and I don't have to make trash in order to drink it and stay hydrated. Oh, well I always recycle my water bottles! Yeah, I have heard that. I probably said it myself. But none of us can deny that we have been forced to throw plastic water bottles in the trash on a number of occasions. Even the Metro paper today made it perfectly clear that less than 5% of plastic is recycled. They went on to talk about how a plastic bottle takes 450 years to photodegrade, and even then they are still plastic, never to biodegrade. So your recycling is not a valid excuse, sorry. You've seen the Nalgene add, right? Thirty minutes on a treadmill...forever in a landfill. Well, if that's you, and you know it is, then you have to admit that you are making trash that is ruining the quality of life for yourself and those around you. So please, stop trying to ruin others peoples lives and do something about it. Trust me, you will feel better when you do. Just say no to bottled water.

We, my fiancee and I, have discovered two kinds of reusable bags that we love. The first ones we started using are called Eco-Bags. (don't worry, links are below) They are cloth mesh bags and you can wad them up so they are basically the size of your fist. I admit they are a little big to carry in your pocket, but they are great for running errands around town, and really excellent for trips to the grocery, produce stand, and farmers market. The mesh somehow allows you to fill them up a lot.

More recently we were given Baggu Bags, and these are reusable bags that honestly everyone should have. They are nylon bags and come in a flat stuff-sack that is only a few inches by a few inches. You can always keep a Baggu Bag in your pocket or purse or bag and it will definitely come in handy when avoiding the infamous plastic bag. Baggu bags are cheap, and come in a ton of colors, and hold up very well. Seriously, everyone should keep one of these in their pockets. It's a no-braner, but yet you will be thinking! Ahhhhaaa!

Nalgene makes a whole line of water bottles that I have been standing behind for years. I got my love one down at Paragon Sports for $10 or so. Somewhere near you or on the internet is an outdoor store that sells water bottles. You can buy a case of plastic water bottles these days for about $5. I can't tell you how much better of a deal the reusable water bottle is. I have one at work and at home I have another option called a Klean Kanteen, a metal water bottle. Not only will you save money in the long run, you will be "thinking globally, and acting locally". Hey, it's a cheesy phrase, I know, but it is still our responsibility.

You've thought, good job, so now treat yourself. Buy yourself and your loved ones a few little gifts that will help out not only you, but everyone around you. Have a great Earth day, every day!

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