Ok … time for another confession.
Even though I grew up on a farm, I have never been much of a tree hugger. In fact, I am so poorly versed in eco-friendly culture, I have no idea whether or not it is all right to call anyone a tree hugger or not, even when referring to one’s self. This may be the equivalent of using other offensive, outmoded words – and I would just have no idea.
It’s not that I don’t care about the earth, but that I grew up in a place where the land and its resources were so enmeshed with daily life that they required little extra thought. The farmers seemed to take good care of our pastures. (That was their job.) My dad led soil and water conservation for years and prided himself on his best practices. But I guess I always thought of these things in economic terms: you turn off the water while brushing your teeth because if you waste water, you waste money; same with the lights, and shutting the door behind you, and running the attic fan instead of the air conditioning. Conserving soil and water on the farm seemed also to reap financial rewards, although I do remember my dad mentioning something about erosion, and that it was bad.
These days, conservationists are all the rage. Thanks to An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore and global warming have become national celebrities. Going green has taken on similar characteristics to the ’80s fitness rage. Reducing one’s carbon footprint is the 2000’s equivalent of jazzercise (sans leg-warmers).
I found An Inconvenient Truth almost unbearable to watch – not because I don’t like ‘ol Al, but because what he was saying was so true, and so devastating, and so big. It was like discovering that someone or something you’d been taught was immortal had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Suddenly (but not really suddenly), we are the ones in charge of saving everything – not just our own lawns, but everyone else’s, too.
I have never been one to jump on bandwagons. If the entire world is talking about a novel (think The DaVinci Code), for example, I’d really rather not read it. But this whole carbon footprint thing has gotten under my skin. It goes beyond the bandwagon. It must.
I, for one, am going to follow in the steps of my awesome, aforementioned sister-in-law, Jupe. Jupe is always thinking of new ways to be ecologically sound, and, for her birthday, I found these awesome bags called Envirosax. They are extra-strong, reusable grocery bags, which means that you save our landfills and recycling facilities from some plastic – and look stylish in the process. Jupe loved them so much, I’ve decided I should get some, too. (They come five in a set, and hold two plastic bags worth of groceries each!)
Still, I fear that our little smartcars and our recycling drives and our styrofoam avoidance will go the way of jazzercise. For heaven’s sake – if our current health trends are any indication, our air and water don’t stand a chance. According to the American Obesity Association, since 1976 (my birth year), our population’s percentage of overweight people has risen from 46% to 64%; the rate of national obesity has more than doubled, from 14.4% to 30.5%. So much for jazzercise. (Were the legwarmers to blame?)
I don’t have any answers on how to be greenific (remember, I’m a newbie – officially “green” – ha!), but I am committed to being my own little green person in whatever way I can. I hope, for the world, carbon reduction becomes as enmeshed with daily life as the rhythms of the land were for me growing up.
If anyone has helpful suggestions on how to become more ecofriendly – beyond buying Envirosax and conserving energy – please make a comment on my blog.