Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Revisited

I vividly remember the first Earth Day. I was in high school. The student leaders decided that all students should get to and from school that one day by any self-propelled method they chose, but not by a motorized vehicle of any sort. To encourage it, they got administrative approval to begin school one half-hour later than usual. My brother, sister, and I all viewed it as a chance to sleep just a bit later, and we never told our parents why school was starting late that day. We didn't see any reason to give up our ride to school since we walked home from school every day of the year. Most kids drove or were given rides both ways. We were the freaks, walking home, uphill, two miles, day after day after day.

I won't pass judgment on ourselves all those years ago. We felt we were already doing the hard thing. The other students gave themselves big pats on the back for being so ecologically conscious for just one day. We suffered, albeit unwillingly, every day. What we didn't realize in our misery was that we were made stronger for it. My sister and I, at least, have continued our frugal and green ways, even when it went out of style for several decades.

Today our society usually indulges in much more self-congratulation for what should have been a commonplace life style all these years since the first Earth Day. We used to "let it mellow" in the 70's. Why did most people stop? Now many people react with revulsion to the idea. We used to use cloth shopping bags; now they seem like a new, modern idea to most people. Composting, recycling, reusing and repurposing. Don't let the water run and run! Turn off the lights! Run a full load in the dishwasher and washing machine. Walk; it's good for you. All old ideas we have practiced for years.

Yet for all the talk about saving resources, there has been an explosion of disposable products entering the market in the last few years. I have a hard time understanding how disposable wipes for every conceivable cleaning situation are wise ecologically. Or, worse, disposable toilet scrubbers. And disposable diapers? Most young parents cannot even fathom any other option. But washing cloth diapers is not all that difficult, especially now that velcroed all-in-one styles are on the market. They were an unrealized dream to me when I was diapering my babies using diaper pins.

What is particularly annoying is the preaching about living a green lifestyle, yet the preachers, such as Al Gore, do not practice it themselves. I don't think a person has any right to tell others what to do if they don't live it themselves. Be consistent. Do it first yourself. Even though I have done many ecologically sound activities for many years, I don't run around bossing other people. And I admit there is still more I can do to conserve resources.

Well, I'm off to CVS. On foot. It's about two miles away, but it's not uphill!

1 comment:

DataLore said...

Is it in the snow barefoot?? just kidding.I too agree about disposable everything.Even a lot of bigger things like small appliances, and furniture are not meant to be repaired but thrown away.what is interesting is we are hearing that some of these throw away products may be harmful to us and the environment.(i.e. bpa(?) in plastic baby bottles and nalgenes.)