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Ellen M.
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« Reply #30: September 14, 2010, 01:21:17 pm »

Ellen, I love you.  Grin

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What suburb? Curious only because I became somewhat familiar with Philly in my years at Bryn Mawr.


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I think the little things add up, and I wish more people would take note.  F'ex, our township has recycles of all types of plastic, glass, aluminum products, and paper.  We're the only ones on our street who carefully break down our cardboard boxes and junk mail so it can be recycled.  This has taken us down from four bags of "trash" per week to one bag of true "garbage" and two full bins of recycling.  It may be a little thing, but it is one that someone in any income bracket could do (assuming they live in an area that has recycling).

It can be so hard to get people to recycle properly. My mom and brother don't give a crap, so trash gets tossed in the recycling bin and reusable stuff in the garbage. (A lot of our recyclables don't end up in the bin because I use every can, jug, and box as planters.) Same thing with the compost - how hard it is for someone to put a plant product in a bag for me to take out back? You'd think I was asking my family to never ever buy something with plastic packaging again. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #31: September 14, 2010, 01:33:13 pm »

I think the little things add up, and I wish more people would take note. 

I'm of the opinion that doing something is generally better than doing nothing, whether we're talking about eco-friendly practices or physical fitness or cleaning house or whatever.  One percent is greater than zero percent, even if it isn't one hundred percent.

The difficult thing, for some of us (self included sometimes), is being honest with ourselves about how much we can do.  It's easy to look at something and think, "Wargh, that's too much, I can't do it," even if "that" is something that we really could do if we'd put a little effort into it.  But that doesn't mean every time we say "I can't" we're being dishonest, it just means that we have to be sure to think it through carefully before we say "I can't".  (Which it sounds like most people in this thread have.)

And to some extent I think it's healthy to remember that "I can't" may include "logistically I could, but my lifestyle would undergo a traumatic upheaval that would leave me miserable".  For example, I admire Brina for how very much she's able to do, but I would absolutely not be able to match her efforts.  I could grow my own food, in theory, but I would have to drastically rearrange my life in order to have the time and energy to plant, tend, and harvest a large garden and preserve the fruits of my labors.  I'm not exactly a social butterfly, there's not a lot of fat to trim in my schedule, so I'm guessing that would mean getting a different job (which would not pay as much as the one I have now, requiring a drastic change in lifestyle) or Hubby or myself quitting work entirely (we need my income and his benefits or, again, we're looking at a drastic change--not a little one, a big one).  We'd also have to have more storage space in order to store the preserved food, which at this point would mean getting rid of things that are important to us--we don't exactly have a lot of kitsch taking up extra space.  Oh, and we'd need a lot more space in our yard to grow things, especially if that included raising animals, which would mean moving farther out of town, which would cut Hubby off from his social support.  (Mine is largely online, fortunately, and thus can go wherever I go.)  Depending on how far we had to go to find viable property, it might also cut me off from my family, which would make me miserable.  All that is without getting into how changes might affect our three-year-old or our housemate.  It is technically possible for me to change my lifestyle to do this; it would entail a lot of stress and upheaval and generally I'd wind up feeling worse off for it, not better.

I mean...  We live here.  We need to take care of the place.  But at the same time, that doesn't mean that our needs are unimportant, whether they're physical needs or emotional needs.  What we need to do is find that balance point where we can lead happy, fulfilling lives but minimize the damage we're doing to the environment in which we live (as distinct from the planet, given that as others pointed out there's not that much we can do to actually hurt the planet as opposed to just changing it).  Some people will be--again, physically and emotionally--able to live on a teeny tiny footprint.  Others will not.  That doesn't mean the people who are unable to are less environmentally-worthy than those who are able.  Different needs, different balances, different actions to pursue those balances.

...And I'm starting to ramble, so I'll shut the hell up now.  Grin
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« Reply #32: September 14, 2010, 03:43:22 pm »



What she said.

Just on the subject of driving - I drive to work because riding the bus (I checked into it when gas got really high) would add 2.5 hours to my commuting time every day.  And would require me to walk about 10 blocks on the work end - not too bad unless the sidewalk is all icy.  I work in a business park at an airport - the sidewalks do NOT get shoveled or sanded.  So when the snow is high, all that is plowed is the driving surface which I am NOT going to try to walk on while dodging cars.  So maybe I'm a wimp, but at that's just the way it is. 

As an aside, once I saw a woman with 2 small wiggly children trying to walk on the side of the road (we had a record snowfall and the sidewalk there was still unpassable - this was not by my work) with cars slipping on the road.  Scared the crap out of me - for the kids sake - and is not something I'm going to be doing.
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« Reply #33: September 14, 2010, 05:33:00 pm »

  Different needs, different balances, different actions to pursue those balances.

I think this touches on an issue that I see come up a lot in American society that gets us into trouble.  That is, we tend to view the world (and accordingly act) in extreme ways.  We are teetotallers or drunkards.  We are anorexic or morbidly obese.  We are Red or Blue.  We are "green" or not.  We are sinner or saint. 

I think it ties into the heavy influence of Puritanism, and to the larger influence of early Protestantism in general.  I understand that most of us here are not Protestant Christian, but we still live with this legacy in our wider culture's opinions.  You either live within the very tight parameters of good and righteous behaviors, or you wallow in "sin".  Doing a wrong or bad thing makes you a complete failure.  Because many people can't live up to a perfect standard, they don't try at all.

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« Reply #34: September 14, 2010, 08:12:16 pm »

Cheesy

What suburb? Curious only because I became somewhat familiar with Philly in my years at Bryn Mawr.

West Chester.  It's about 20-30 minutes West-ish of Bryn Mawr and also has a university.


Quote
It can be so hard to get people to recycle properly. My mom and brother don't give a crap, so trash gets tossed in the recycling bin and reusable stuff in the garbage. (A lot of our recyclables don't end up in the bin because I use every can, jug, and box as planters.) Same thing with the compost - how hard it is for someone to put a plant product in a bag for me to take out back? You'd think I was asking my family to never ever buy something with plastic packaging again. Roll Eyes

I have a colleague who proudly puts her recyclables in plastic bags, including the paper that comes out of her home office shredder.
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« Reply #35: September 14, 2010, 08:24:18 pm »

I'm of the opinion that doing something is generally better than doing nothing, whether we're talking about eco-friendly practices or physical fitness or cleaning house or whatever.  One percent is greater than zero percent, even if it isn't one hundred percent.

Exactly!

Quote
And to some extent I think it's healthy to remember that "I can't" may include "logistically I could, but my lifestyle would undergo a traumatic upheaval that would leave me miserable"... 

I mean...  We live here.  We need to take care of the place.  But at the same time, that doesn't mean that our needs are unimportant, whether they're physical needs or emotional needs.  What we need to do is find that balance point where we can lead happy, fulfilling lives but minimize the damage we're doing to the environment in which we live (as distinct from the planet, given that as others pointed out there's not that much we can do to actually hurt the planet as opposed to just changing it).
 

I think this is the point that people consistently miss in their "quest" to save the planet.  My  environmental center of gravity may differ from yours, but that doesn't necessarily make either of our efforts less of an effort.
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« Reply #36: September 14, 2010, 08:54:32 pm »

Our beloved Earth should not be facing many of the problems she currently faces, such as over population, mountainous landfills, global warming (and the consequent rise in sea level), pollution and ever diminishing natural resources.

A good example is automobiles. No one could be unaware how driving a car harms the Earth in so many ways, including, but by no means limited to, air pollution and the unfolding ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Do you feel at all responsible as you turn the key to start your car?  Is that “just the way it is”? Or, have you found an alternative way of living that largely removes you from this harmful and destructive activity, as part of your spiritual devotion to, and love for, the Earth? Perhaps some compromise? Hybrid vehicle? Carpooling? Bicycle?  Or, are you in a position where you simply “have to have a car” to survive?

I have read peoples descriptions of having to drive, some for hours, each way to attend a short meeting, ritual gathering or celebration, with the stated aim of connecting with the Gods, the Earth, the Ancestors or other Spirits. Can any personal benefit derived from attending such a gathering in this way outweigh the destruction caused in exacerbating an already dire situation by engaging in this activity? How do you think the Gods, the Earth, the Spirits and the Ancestors perceive this obvious affront to Nature?

How can one continue, in good conscience, to do harm to the planet on the one hand, and claim to love it at the same time on the other?

Is there a better way?


I don't shop at Walmart.  Primarily because ours sucks and it's 45 minutes away.  If they had something I wanted, or that was the store that was located within a short drive, I would shop there.  I can't afford to add ten bucks to the price of every purchase because I have to spend money on gas.  I shop where I can get to.  Taxis are a moot point.  A vehicle is a vehicle is a vehicle whether you own it or no, and an 18mo on a bus is an absolutely not. 

Our family has one vehicle, which we use roughly once a day to go about 3 miles down the road and back.  My kids are bussed to school.  Do I feel bad about this?  Nope.  Considering, my family of five has less than half a kitchen bag of garbage a week, composts, recycles everything right down to the paper towels that we reuse between three and five times.  We do not use household cleaners, detergents or disposable products.  When we use the car, we do not run the A/C in the car, to better our gas mileage.  On weekends we cook outdoors in our newly dug fire pit with salvaged wood.  In a summer that hit 109 multiple times we did not use our A/C and we haven't used the heat in the last 5 years.  I keep a family going on literally no income and foodstamps.  My neighbors know me as the hand me down chick with the best dressed kids in town.  I manage to pull from a fairly broad donation base for the kids clothes and can clean, repair and select the things that will stand the test of time.  You'd never guess that the newest things are consignment and the oldest have been around for years.

While we're getting rid of our cars, let's hope we're getting rid of our lawnmowers, weed eaters, and other gas powered tools, since they actually contribute per use up far more pollution than the trip to the store.  The restrictions on these are far less stringent since they aren't registered and are often used till they are inefficient at best.  Older mowers release 20-30% of their oil and gas into the air.

Do I shudder every time I turn the key?  No.  Do I give my neighbors dirty looks for not being more aware?  No.  The earth will recover.  We probably wont.  We will eventually kill ourselves off, be it one thing or another, super bacteria, warfare, pollution, or other and the earth will recover without us and do whatever it is that she decides comes next.  I'm actually quite okay with that.  I see it as fairly inevitable.  Us humans, we've had a good run.  Time is not on our side. 

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« Reply #37: September 14, 2010, 10:12:00 pm »

You either live within the very tight parameters of good and righteous behaviors, or you wallow in "sin".  Doing a wrong or bad thing makes you a complete failure.

This is a large part of the problem. Unless you can do 100% of what (whoever is setting the standards) thinks is required, you are seen as a failure. These means almost everyone will fail, so most will not even try. American society often seems obsessed with "winners" and usually there can only be one. The problem with this is that most things in real life don't have one winner and everyone else loses: being green is definitely one of those things.  The world would likely be better over if everyone managed to be 10 to 15% greener than they are now than if a handful of people are 100% green and crow about it to the point that no one else bothers to even do 10%.
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« Reply #38: September 14, 2010, 10:23:03 pm »

The world would likely be better over if everyone managed to be 10 to 15% greener than they are now than if a handful of people are 100% green and crow about it to the point that no one else bothers to even do 10%.

In fairness, most of the people I know doing a lot to be green don't crow about it.  My friend Sarah bikes *everywhere*, buys local and organic, raises a garden, intentionally lives in a small house, composts, recycles, etc.  But she doesn't have a bad word or a disparaging glance for my big hoopty van.  We sometimes talk about being greener, and she helps me come up with ideas that are workable for me with my time and family constraints.  But then again, she's very much swimming against the tide of all-or-nothing thinking.

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« Reply #39: September 14, 2010, 10:31:36 pm »

In fairness, most of the people I know doing a lot to be green don't crow about it.  My friend Sarah bikes *everywhere*, buys local and organic, raises a garden, intentionally lives in a small house, composts, recycles, etc.  But she doesn't have a bad word or a disparaging glance for my big hoopty van.  We sometimes talk about being greener, and she helps me come up with ideas that are workable for me with my time and family constraints.  But then again, she's very much swimming against the tide of all-or-nothing thinking.

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And it's probably important to remember that the loud and obnoxious parts of any group aren't usually the largest. To also be fair, I know several greenies who are passionate about what they do and only have kind words for their fellow man.
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« Reply #40: September 14, 2010, 10:58:35 pm »

In fairness, most of the people I know doing a lot to be green don't crow about it.  My friend Sarah bikes *everywhere*, buys local and organic, raises a garden, intentionally lives in a small house, composts, recycles, etc.  But she doesn't have a bad word or a disparaging glance for my big hoopty van.  We sometimes talk about being greener, and she helps me come up with ideas that are workable for me with my time and family constraints.  But then again, she's very much swimming against the tide of all-or-nothing thinking.

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I think it is wonderful that you have such a friend like that!  We could all use some one (or several some ones) in our lives like that.

Do you think Sarah needs another friend?   Wink
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« Reply #41: September 14, 2010, 11:31:04 pm »

I think it is wonderful that you have such a friend like that!  We could all use some one (or several some ones) in our lives like that.

Do you think Sarah needs another friend?   Wink

Probably if you lived in the St. Louis area.  She's very much a "more the merrier" type of gal.
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« Reply #42: September 15, 2010, 02:32:40 am »

Do we really need to put on a show of being greener-than-thou?

Amen again.  The only way to convince people of anything is to live your creed and try to look happy whilst you do. 

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« Reply #43: September 15, 2010, 02:44:31 am »


And now I must add something, a thing that seems no-one has thought about yet.
If you are so green and concerned, why on earth do you run a computer?

Production, operation and (maybe of all things) disposal of these things is not on the positive side of the environmental balance.

In another forum Ive been, there was an even more heated discussion about being green and so connected to nature and it occured to none of the participants how not green they were to discuss via computer and what their claims would mean, if they where taken seriously. No PC, no TV (though thats not much of a loss), no washing machine (ouch), no nothing that makes life better and comfy and gives us the time in first place to lead such discussions.

We wouldnt die, if we would go back to a technology level of 20 or 30 years ago. But that is not the way things are working. And we schould not forget that it is advanced technology, that helps to make up for some of the damage we are doing.
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« Reply #44: September 15, 2010, 08:52:05 am »

And now I must add something, a thing that seems no-one has thought about yet.
If you are so green and concerned, why on earth do you run a computer?

I don't think I could ever give up having a computer. It's just such an ingrained part of my lifestyle - I was socialized on the internet, have dear friends here, been online for over a dozen years at this point - that honestly, I'll let my carbon footprint jump up a size to keep it.

I take very mild solace in the fact that Apple's been putting more green things into their products (more efficient batteries, recycled laptop materials, etc). So that's pretty awesome.
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