Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy Belated Earth Day!

We have been participating in a 'Screen Free' week so I didn't post anything on Earth Day. But we did observe that day. My kids and I planted some kale, beats, and rainbow chard seeds indoors and will transplant them outside in a month or so. We are quite limited in what we grow outside because of our small space - everything is going in planter boxes.
When friends ask me why I care so much about the planet and working towards a sustainable lifestyle, I always have a hard time condensing SOOO much information into a short and practical explanation. Nobody wants to be lectured but I find they are always a bit curious. My grandmother gave me her book The Canadian Green Consumer Guide - How You Can Help - Responsbile shopping that won't cost the earth. The preface in this book was written by Margaret Atwood. I would LOVE to give copies of this preface to everyone I know because it is written in a way that is easy to understand and gets right to the point in a short period of time. The next time someone wants to know why I care so much about the planet I will give them the info from this preface:
----------------Taken from The Canadian Green Consumer Guide-----------------
By now, most people know we're in danger. We've heard about the thinning ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, the destruction of the world's forests, arable lands, and drinkable water. The danger we're in is enormous:
if we don't do something about it, its results could be as devasting as those of a world-wide nuclear catastrophe. We have finally realized that we cannot continue to dump wide toxic chemicals and garbage into the water, air, and earth of this planet without eventually killng both it and ourselves - because everything we eat, drink, and grow has its ultimate source in the natural world.
However, most people don't know what to do. In the face of such an enormous global problem, they feel helpless. But altogether the problem is global, the solutions must be local. Unless we begin somewhere, we will never begin at all. An absence of small beginnings will spell the end.
During the depression and the war, conservation was a way of life. It wasn't called that. It was called saving, or salvaging, or rationing. People saved things and reused them because materials were expensive or scarce. They saved string, rubber bands, bacon fat, newspapers, tin cans and glass bottles, old clothes. They made new things out of old things; they darned socks, turned shirt collars. They grew Victory Gardens. "Waste not, want not" was their motto.
Then came the end of the war, a new affluence, and the Disposable Society. We were encouraged to spend and waste; it was supposed to be good for the economy. Throwing things out became a luxury. We indulged.
We can no longer afford our wasteful habits. It's Back to the Basics, time for a return to the Three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, too, to buy polluting products and to rethink your behaviour. For instance, use less energy; cut your overhead and increase profits, and stave off a tax hike. Dry your clothes on a rack: humidify your home and lower your hydro bill. Leave excess packaging at the store: let them dispose of it. Manufacturers will get the message pretty quick, not just from you but from disgruntled retailers. Start a compost heap. Vote for politicians with the best environmental platforms. Choose non-disposables: razors with real blades instead of the plastic chuck-it-out kind, fountain pens rather then toss-outs. Shop for organic veggies; di it using a shopping basket so you won't have to cart home all those annoying plastic bags that pile up under the sink. Lobby for country-of-origin labels on all food, so you know you aren't eating destroyed Amazonian rainforest with every hamburger bite.
Pollution control, like charity, must begin at home. It's true that industries are major polluters, but industries, in the final analysis, are market - and therefore consumer-driven. If enough of us refuse to buy polluting products, the manufacturers will go out of business. Even a small percentage swing in buying patterns can mean the difference between profit and loss.
This is wartime. Right now we're losing; but it's a war we can still win, with some good luck, a lot of good will, and a great many intelligent choices. Although they are about familiar, harmless-looking, everyday objects, they are, in the final analysis, life-or-death choices.
And the choice is yours.
Margaret Atwood

1 comment:

Theresa said...

I really like that Margaret Atwood summary, but I wished she wouldn't have used a war metaphor at the end. I think it would be better if we thought of ourselves as signing a peace treaty with the earth, rather than being at war with climate change. But that's just my opinion.