Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time to Sweat the Small Stuff?

It's nice to give out green tips, and feel like we're helping the world. But sometimes, we just have to let loose and get it off our chests. Guess which I need to do now?

I say it's easy being green, and I really believe it is, but a lot of times it's hard to be a Greenie. Awareness is a terrible thing sometimes. I'll be honest, I get plowed under by the problems of this world really easily. How can we possibly fight the clean coal people? What about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?? Oh no, is that ANOTHER picture of a polar bear on a tiny piece of melting ice??? It's big stuff out there. And I get discouraged.

And then, I see something close to home that REALLY makes me question what the heck I'm doing. I had a "Why Do I Bother" moment just yesterday. Driving to work, I observed 3 teenagers walking somewhere in Hollywood. 2 guys and a girl. The girl pulled an opened bag of Spicy Cheetos out of her massive purse. Mmmm, I love Cheetos. I smiled. Then... THEN... then, she took her gum out of her mouth and, instead of wrapping it in a tiny piece of paper and saving it to throw away later, instead of having made use of one of the millions of trash cans all over Hollywood, 5 of which they just passed, she flung her gum to the sparse grassy area between the sidewalk and the street. She smiled as she did it. She kept chatting as she did it. She didn't think twice. He companions didn't even flinch, didn't even look.

But Green Witch, you ask, why get so bent over such a little thing? I'll tell you why. It's a symptom. It's a tiny little thing that points to much much bigger issues. The complete disregard with which this child littered tells me that she might just throw that Cheetos wrapper on the ground too. Had I been walking and not on my way to work, I might have just followed her to see what happened next. (I know, I know, a little much, a little creepy. Sue me.)

I'll tell you why. Because such utter lack of concern for that piece of gum tells me that she doesn't think anything of what she uses, what she throws away, what is important. It tells me her parents, her school, etc aren't really impressing anything onto her impressionable mind about what manners are and what littering is. The way in which she did it told me she chews gum a lot and this isn't the first time she has flung it heedlessly to the ground for someone to step in. It reminds me that millions of people everywhere every day fling their gum to the Earth without a care. And THAT leads me to realize that it doesn't end with tiny little innocent pieces of gum. No. It STARTS with tiny little innocent pieces of gum. And, because if these kids don't care, these ones that we are working to save from all our bad practices, if they don't care, then why do I bother???

So yeah. It may have been the tiniest littlest thing and it really shouldn't have bugged me so much, but welcome to my head. Sometimes when you keep telling yourself, don't sweat the petty stuff just pet the sweaty stuff, you keep trying and trying... and then the little things, the petty things, sneak on in and just blow the lid off the carefully contained vat of angst/rage/fear/disgust/hopelessness mixture that was only barely controlled anyway....

I think it's time we started sweating the petty stuff. I believe we have ignored it for too long, and now all the little things have landed us in a real big mess.

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's getting cooler. Be greener! Easy Tip #2!

Ahhh, Fall. Falling leaves, falling temperatures. Rising heat and rising heating bills. There are ways to be a little greener, and to save energy, and to save money all at the same time.

The first easiest way to keep the heat turned down but not freeze is super-obvious and easy: layer some clothing! Make sure you have nice warm socks or slippers on your feet, and pull on a comfy sweater or hoodie. Yes, it is that easy! Before you touch the thermostat, take stock of what you have on and decide if maybe you can't skip the energy bill and bundle up a little. Now, I'm not suggesting you look like the Michelin Man and lose the ability to move your arms or fall over and can't get up like "A Christmas Story", but be reasonable. if you're cold and you have on a t-shirt... well... c'mon.

Another easy way to warm the home and hearth a little: bake! This is a really good way to warm things up without cranking the heat. It helps for a few hours, anyway. And who doesn't love cookies or pies or nice hot yummy casseroles? Banana bread? Pumpkin bread? You'll be the hit of the office or the neighborhood if you gift these things you lovingly baked. You can prepare meals or soups for the coming week, thus being greener with your cooking and better with your time and money... no take-out all week. No use of plastic forks and Styrofoam and take-out plastics. (See how many ways you save by the littlest of actions? It really is a domino effect.) And get the kids involved with the cookies. It's great family time that they will treasure all their lives, and it gets them off the computer or gaming systems for a time, thus saving MORE energy on the electric bill.

It's the little things. A lot of good stuff snowballs when you do green things. So get out there and do it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Get Started - Easy 1st Assignment

Winter is coming. In many cultures, it is a time to settle in, to gather in, to reflect about the coming year. To me, that seems like a heckuva good time to think about how we can be a little greener.

I'll start you off with a quick and easy one: stop using straws. This is one of my favorites and I am guilty of harping on it. (I'm OK with that, though.) Think about it: YOU use a straw. You throw it away. Seems pretty small and harmless. It's just a tiny little thing. But how many other millions of people are doing that exact same thing in this same day? That's millions of straws. In just one day. Going into the landfill, never decomposing, never biodegrading... just sitting there. And that's just the end result: think about the production of all those plastic straws. That takes energy, oil, and lots and lots of water. All that can be saved by not using straws. There are the paper wrappers and the boxes they come it... it goes on and on. All for the simple use of a straw that we never even give a second thought.

It's time to start giving these things a second thought. And third and fourth if we need to. Start with just that one simple little easy nearly effortless tip. Give up straws. It's not hard. It's a great start. Go ahead and feel good about it. You're allowed.