31 March 2007

Love Your Mother (Earth, that is.)

The last vestiges of snow have finally disappeared into the March sunlight, and although Earth Day is nearly a month away, I want to talk today about some environmental issues. Now that the snow is no longer covering the earth like a downy white blanket, I see her begin to awaken and renew herself.

In places.

Because in other places, those huge snowbanks were covering mounds and mounds of TRASH. Fast food bags and wrappers, plastic water bottles, plastic grocery and big box retailer bags, stuff that probably could be recycled and was just instead carelessly tossed out of the window of a speeding SUV.

We have just the one planet, folks. That's it. The dreams of sci-fi writers everywhere have yet to come to fruition, and we're not actively occupying space nor seeking new planets to explore. We just don't have the capability, and I'd argue that until we get this planet back into some decent shape, we've got no business screwing up another one.

I'm going to quote song lyrics again, in fact lyrics that I've quoted before, because they say so eloquently what I'd like to express. This is from Dave Matthews Band's One Sweet World, and is the opening verse.

Nine planets around the sun
Only one does the sun embrace
Upon this watered world
So much we take for granted

Clean air. Clean water. So many other resources, natural gas, coal, oil, even things like phosphorus. There's not an endless supply. And we use them every day, never thinking about the impact that our own personal usage might have on the planet. It worries me a great deal.

The prevalence of the aforementioned SUVs makes me crazy. Because really? You NEED a V-8 engine with towing capability, Mr & Mrs Six Pack? What for? Yes, there are people that do need larger vehicles, I won't dispute that. But the rise in recent years of more and more people purchasing, oh, let's say HUMMERS for example? Is just a case of a deep seeded need to show off wealth, not because the behemoth is really a necessity.

My little piece of American suburban hell does not encourage recycling. By that I mean that the community does not force consumers to recycle, and does not actively insist on consumers participating in the process. Which also bothers me a great deal. Yes, the local trash haulers offer a recycling service, but to truly reduce your impact on the amount of trash dumped into local landfills, you must do some real, actual work yourself, and I don't just mean separating your trash. There are plenty of things that the recycler/waste hauler won't take, so you must transport this stuff yourself, which entails first finding out where it goes, who takes what, and how they prefer it packaged.

I must confess, that even tree-hugger me does not do nearly enough as she should, something my sisters both harass me about when they're 'home' in Ohio. I wish that I had a compost pile, but I do not, and in fact I think my neighbors in my planned community with its accompanying home owner's association might have something to say about it if I started a compost pile in my shared backyard. Then again, they might be all for it, but I doubt it.

I worry as well about the lack of funding for research into alternative fuels, the dearth of spending on wind or solar energy. I realize, however, that if I'm not willing to give up things like the electricity that runs this computer (power plants in Ohio are primarily coal-burning), then I'm doing even less than I think to help the earth.

Since we're about to turn over a new month, and I've always thought of spring as a time of renewal more than the turning over of the calendar in January every year, I'm going to make an April resolution, rather than a New Year's resolution. I resolve to work extra hard this month to reduce the amount of garbage that I produce, taking the time to rinse out the aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass containers and really recycling this stuff rather than tossing it.

What else could you be doing to care for the earth?

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