Posts Tagged ‘Activism’

Andrew Revkin took The Guardian‘s newly published list of ‘50 People Who Could Save the Planet‘ and asked his readers to come up with their own list. Mine included The Unknown Environmentalist.

Tribute to the Unknown Environmentalist

I feel it is time to pay tribute to The Unknown Environmentalist. You know, the one who is leading a quiet revolution, far from the limelight. No fanfare, no big announcements, no blog. Instead the power of one’s daily actions. Day after day of biking, walking, carpooling, or taking the bus, or the train. Remembering to turn off the lights. Heating only as much as really needed. Reducing, re-using, recycling, of course. Borrowing and lending stuff to neighbors and family, whenever possible. Going to Freecycle when all else fails. Not wasting food. Eating sensibly, and in accordance with the laws of nature. Working at a job that makes a bit, or maybe even a lot of difference. Living in a modest dwelling. Composting. Saying no to junk mail. Giving away money to environmental organizations. Doing laundry only when absolutely necessary. Going for the clothesline every time. Saying no to the temptation of the garbage disposal. Being creative with old clothes. Never bathing. Showering, quick. Signing petitions. Voting. The Unknown Environmentalist cannot help but live the life of a responsible green citizen. And is motivated by internal rewards from a highly developed green conscience.

To you, The Unknown Environmentalist, I say thank you for doing your share and more of saving the planet.

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Thanks to Mary Hunt for pointing me to ‘The Story of Stuff. This 20′ fast-paced educational video did more to educate me on my role as a consumer than all I have heard or read so far. Here, to tease you, are four quick excerpts:

I swear, after you watch the Story of Stuff video, you will never be the same consumer again. You will have become a conscious consumer. And that makes all the difference.

WARNING: Story of Stuff can spread very quickly . . . :)

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Ever since I read the New York Times article on Anarchists in the Toy Aisles? Stores Offer Unwitting Stage, my mind has been percolating with subversive ideas. Nothing concrete yet. Give me a little more time.

I am referring to the practice of ‘shopdropping‘, defined by its originator, the artist Ryan Watkins-Hughes, as:

SHOPDROP: To covertly place merchandise on display in a store. A form of “culture jamming” s. reverse shoplift, droplift.

SHOPDROPPING is an ongoing project in which I alter the packaging of canned goods and then shopdrop the items back onto grocery store shelves. I replace the packaging with labels created using my photographs. The shopdropped works act as a series of art objects that people can purchase from the grocery store. Because the barcodes and price tags are left intact purchasing the cans before they are discovered and removed is possible. In one instance the shopdropped cans were even restocked to a new aisle based on the barcode information.

SHOPDROPPING strives to take back a share of the visual space we encounter on daily basis. Similar to the way street art stakes a claim to public space for self expression, my shopdropping project subverts commercial space for artistic use in an attempt to disrupt the mundane commercial process with a purely artistic moment. The photographs act as a visual journal of my travels over the past few years. Displayed in nonlinear combinations the images remix the traditional narrative of the passing of time. The vibrant individuality of each image is a stark contrast to the repetitive, functional, package design that is replaced. Shopdropping gives voice to the pervasive disillusionment from our increasingly commercial society. A voice that is, paradoxically, made possible only by commercial technological advancements.’

I got a real kick out of this video by Californian artist Packard Gennings, another shopdropper enthusiast:

Ryan, Packard, and all the folks at the Anti-Advertising Agency, I think you are doing some awesome work. Is it legal? Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in the New York Times article, ‘he was not sure if shopdropping was illegal but that some forms of it could raise safety concerns because the items left on store shelves might not abide by labeling requirements and federal safety standards.’

Legal or not, count me as your definite fan, and soon to be active member of your collective. I am thinking T-Shirts, stickers on shopping carts and women’s clothes labels, pamphlets, with funny messages about consumption, carbon emissions, global warming, daily green actions, etc.

Any of you interested in joining, please drop me a note.

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Nelson Harvey is the other person behind Wild Green Yonder, one of my absolute favorite green blogs. Nelson surprised me on Christmas Day with an offer to guest post on La Marguerite. In his own words, Nelson ‘is particularly interested in finding new psychological and economic approaches to achieving sustainability.’ When not blogging, Nelson is a student at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, focusing on environmental studies and writing. He is the co-author of Greening The Urban Campus, a sustainability assessment of NYU. He is also a former employee of the NYU Recycling Shop, a member of NYU’s Green Action Plan Task Force, and an aspiring drummer, looking for connections between natural and human rhythms. So here is a new post in the BlogAct series:

I’ve been pretty down on Christmas lately. I’ve seen exhausted fathers on the subway toting massive boxes full of the latest must-have plastic toy. I’ve heard my own younger siblings pester my parents about the loot that they expect. And I’ve heard 3560 versions of the song “Jingle Bell Rock” on the radio.Why, then, did I catch myself glancing at the clock at 11 pm on Christmas Eve and counting the hours until morning? As a child, I would lie awake on that night and dream of tearing wrapping paper, hoping that my parents had gotten me the things I’d asked for. These days, I often find myself wishing for less stuff, not more, so my anticipation seemed strange.

Second Thoughts on Christmas

What was it that had me watching the clock? Everything about Christmas morning, except the stuff. I love sitting in the living room with my family, making breakfast, and seeing people happy about what they’re getting or giving. I look forward to these things, even though a central part of Christmas –getting heaps of stuff– has lost some of its luster for me.

As I see it, re-conceiving Christmas requires the same approach as dealing with environmental issues like global warming. It’s less about changing the things we desire than it is about finding out what those things really are, then discovering more environmentally sensitive ways to obtain them. Renewable energy technologies can satisfy our basic needs (heat, light, etc) with a fraction of the impact of fossil fuels.

We need a parallel solution for our higher order needs, like satisfaction, belonging and community. When we open gifts on Christmas morning, I think it is these things, rather than more stuff, that we really hope to find.

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Kyle Schuant is the Aussie blogger over at Green With A Gun and a frequent visitor on this blog. It is hard to find a blogger as passionate as Kyle. If you comment on this blog, you have probably encountered Kyle in many of the lively discussions that animate La Marguerite. I have come to appreciate the depth of Kyle’s comments, his thorough knowledge of environmental issues, and also his talent for using compelling arguments to rally others to the green cause. Please join me to welcome Kyle as the new guest writer in the BlogActs series. In this article, Kyle does a brilliant demonstration of what it would take for the average Australian to achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse gases emissions, just with the status quo, only reasonable behavioral changes, and without the need for new technology. Kyle invites us to take a cold, hard look at the facts, and comes up with some pretty surprising numbers. These numbers can be easily extrapolated to other developed countries, U. S. included.

What are we being asked to do to “save the planet”? George Monbiot in Heat talks about a global reduction of 60% of carbon emissions by 2050, which means a 90% Western world reduction, since we’re so far above the average.. Climate change conferences between countries tend to be less ambitious. And then there are scientists out there who say we need more than a 100% reduction, we need to be taking carbon out of the air, not adding any at all. But let’s be moderately ambitious, go for Monbiot in the middle and aim at 90%. Sounds pretty rough, yeah? Probably big sacrifices required? Well, let’s see. It turns out the average Australian can drop their greenhouse gas emissions by about two-thirds without significant discomfort or expense, and saving money.

What are we starting from?

It’s easy to talk about reducing or increasing emissions, but what does it really mean to us in our day-to-day lives? Do we have to live in a cave, or can we live in a hydrogen-powered computerized pollutionless mansion if we get the right Science! (TM)?

Well, let’s look at what the average person here in Australia uses during the year, and the carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions they produce. Once we know what it means day-to-day for us to live this polluting lifestyle, then that helps us figure out what it’d mean to live a different lifestyle.

We’ll just look at what the average person can affect, their household stuff and transport. We won’t worry about factories and mines and so on, since you and I can’t affect those directly. Since methane (cow farts) and other gases actually have a stronger warming effect than pure CO2, but break down over a while, so we’ll give the figures in “CO2e”, which means “carbon dioxide equivalent”, over 100 years. This is calculated as per the figures in my article on carbon emissions. The following is what the average Australian consumes in a year, and the emissions they cause as a result.

 Petrol 1,230lt, causing 2,854kg CO2e
 Aircraft 4,000km, causing 1,000kg CO2e
 Bus, petrol/diesel, 500km, causing 12kg CO2e
 Train, diesel, 250km, causing 2kg CO2e
 Train, electric, 500km, causing 7kg CO2e
 Tram, electric, 250km, causing 13kg CO2e
Household power & gas
 Coal-sourced electricity 3,000kwh, causing 3,630kg co2e
 Natural gas 36,500MJ, causing 2,008kg CO2e
 Meat 107kg, causing 1,231kg CO2e
 Fruit, vegetable, legumes and grain 400kg, causing 1620kg CO2e
 Dairy 100kg, causing 6kg CO2e
 Rubbish 600kg, causing 2,400kg CO2e
 Recycling 200kg, causing 200kg CO2e

All this adds to 14,981kg of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

Yes, that is a lot. The world average is more like 3,000kg CO2e per person of these domestic controllable emissions. I know, I know – you’re different. You don’t drive but you do fly a lot, and your friend eats more meat than that and leaves the lights on all the time, and your mum never goes anywhere on any kind of transport and is vegetarian – but we’re talking about averages across whole countries, millions of people. So that’s what we’ve got.

Now let’s look at ways the average Australian can reduce this – not making any big “sacrifice”, not waiting for any Science! (TM) or The Market! but just using what’s available to us today.

The average Australian lives in a city, and has access to public transport. Over half their petrol is used in getting to work. In general, public transport sucks – it’s dirty, often late, irregular, not always on when and where you want it, but it can get you to work, and will give you another half an hour or more a day to relax before and after work, read a book or newspaper, chat to friends. Once you factor that leisure time and lower cost in, public transport sucks less than do traffic and parking and speed cameras and so on. So let’s walk, bike, and take the bus or train to work, and that halves the petrol consumption. The average car travels 15,000km each year, so that adds 7,500km to bus, train and tram. Not every city has trams like Melbourne, so we’ll split it 50% trains, 40% buses, 10% trams.

Next we’ll eliminate the aircraft travel, and change that to diesel train. Sorry, no more overseas trips – but that still leaves a whole continent to explore. That ought to be enough to fill a lifetime of holidays.

This takes our transport-related emissions from 3,888 to 1,660kg CO2e. That’s dropped us 15% on the total.

Domestic energy:
Electricity? In most places in the developed West, you can choose your electricity provider, and choose the source of your electricity. Let’s choose the least polluting, wind. Not bad – that takes us from 3,630 to 120kg CO2e. Only thing is, wind power costs more. So let’s just use less electricity.

For heating and cooling, remember that in your home you’re usually in one place for some time. You’re at the kitchen table, at your desk in your study, or on the couch in front of the tv. You don’t need the whole house to be the right temperature, just where you’re sitting. So for cooling, wear light clothes and have a cold drink. Turn off your 2,500W airconditioning and replace it with a 50W fan, point it wherever you’re sitting. For heating, wear a jumper and have a warm drink. When you’re sitting for a long time, use a hot water bottle in a little blanket.

Now, the hot water system.. Go out to your hot water heater and turn the thermostat down a bit. An hour later, check on the temperature of the water from the tap. It should be no hotter than you can stand on your bare skin. You don’t need to make coffees straight from the tap – heating 140lt to get 2050ml of hot water? Are you crazy? Use the kettle. You need it just hot enough that when you take a shower you don’t need to add any cold water. If it’s still too hot, go out and lower the thermostat again. (Some people tell stories about legionella and other deadly diseases you supposedly get from doing this, but I’ve never had anyone meet my challenge: Give me a single case mentioned in medical journals of someone getting sick from their non-boiling shower. Just one.) Now make your showers about 4 minutes. You’re not a surgeon, you don’t need to sterilise yourself, washing all over is quite enough. Shave in the sink, boys.

For lighting, as your old incandescent globes die out, replace them with compact fluroescents. They cost $5 instead of $1, but if you have it on for four hours a day (pretty typical for a house light), you’l make that $ difference back in four months, and the things last for years. Turn off all lights and appliances at the wall when not in use – how many clocks do you need, really? Is it so much trouble to switch on the tv as you pass it to flop on the couch? Is it so horrible to wait while the computer boots up?

Okay, now wind power usually costs 50% more than coal, but with all that you just went from the Aussie average of 8.2kWh/day per person to about 3kWh/day.

Alright, all that just reduced your domestic power-related emissions from 5,638 to 445kg CO2e. That’s 35% gone.

Ideally we’d all eat organic and locally-grown food. But that can be hard to get, and it’s bloody expensive. Besides which, they may save on emissions at the farm, but that’s not much use if they trucked the stuff all the way in refrigerated trucks from Gippsland to Sydney. The key thing is how much meat you eat. 107kg is the Australian average, and that’s 290g a day. That’s half the meat on a cow a year, or a couple of chickens a week, or three or four pigs. Really you don’t need that much for your health. Aim at half a kilo a month of meat of some kind, making sure that any children or menstruating women get red meat in preference to other things, they need more iron than us blokes.

With the rest of your food, buy fresh fruit and vegetables, or dried. Don’t buy tinned stuff unless there’s nothing else available, and avoid anything pre-made like fish fingers, tv dinners and so on. Buy also pasta and rice, nuts and beans. Nutrition is a complicated subject, but an easy way to do it is to aim for colourful meals. When you chop up the vegies there should be three or four different colours there. So if you had onions, peppers, spinach and carrots, there you go. Try to eat beans or nuts every day. Wash it down with some milk or fruit juice, and have a piece of fruit for dessert. You can’t cook? If you can read, you can cook. It takes time to do, but if you have time to watch Neighbours or The Simpsons or read people’s blogs, then you have time to cook. You can always make a big lot on the weekend and freeze things, that uses the time more efficiently.

Plus you’ll impress your spouse and make more friends, everyone likes someone who can cook nice meals.

That takes food-related emissions from 2,857 to 2,104kg CO2e. Another 5% saved.

You can reduce this. Basically you’ve got three categories of waste – rubbish (400kg), recycling (200kg) and food scraps (200kg). In your kitchen you should have a bin for the stuff that can be recycled, and another for the stuff that can’t. Most areas have decent recycling programs now. Check what they can and can’t recycle. If they can’t recycle (say) plastic type “6”, then when you go to the shops to buy something, don’t buy things with that as their container. There are so many brands of everything, you can have your choice of containers, too. Generally if you stick to glass jars, cardboard and wax paper containers they should be able to recycle them. If you have a garden, you should compost all your food scraps. If you don’t have a garden, find a neighbour who does and give them your scraps, they’ll love it.

In this way, you ought to be able to turn 3⁄4 of that rubbish into recycling, and all your food scraps into compost. Your total emissions from waste then go from 2,600 to 973kg CO2e. Another 11% down.

So what do we get from all that? Remember, none of this has cost us any money, in fact it’ll over time save us money.

 Petrol 615lt, causing 1426.8kg CO2e
 Bus, petrol/diesel 3,500km, causing 80.5kg CO2e
 Train, diesel 4,250km, causing 34kg CO2e
 Train, electric 4,250km, causing 59.5kg CO2e
 Tram, electric 1,000km, causing 52kg CO2e
Domestic Power & Gas
 Wind 1095kwh, causing 43.8kg co2e
 Natural gas 7300MJ, causing 401.5kg CO2e
 Wood, clear-felled 0kg, causing 0kg CO2e
 Meat 6kg, causing 69kg CO2e
 Fruit, vegetable, legumes and grain 501kg, causing 2029kg CO2e
 Dairy 100kg, causing 6kg CO2e
 Rubbish 100kg, causing 400kg CO2e
 Recycling 500kg, causing 500kg CO2e
 Compost aerobic/kg 200kg, causing 73kg CO2e

All this adds to 5,175kg of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. That’s 35% of the average, a 70% reduction.

I dunno, maybe I’m a really tough guy or something, but none of those measures seem to me to be a great “sacrifice.” Most of them will improve my life – I’ll have more money, or less time at work earning that money, less stress, and better physical health. The average Westerner can get a 70% reduction while improving their life, and without having to become some stupid drugged-out hippy communist.

Okay, that’s 65%, what about the other 25%?
The rest is where we either are deprived of things and get real hassle, or else where we need some support from the public purse and government. Because we’re being lazy and don’t want to sacrifice anything, let’s not think of real deprivation. “Damnit, government, we’ve done 70% of it, you sort out the other 20%! What am I paying taxes for?” We need better public transport, more localised work and agriculture, and better packaging for our stuff.

If that 501kg of food, the fruit, vegetables, beans and grain were grown in a lot on your block, or even on a farm a couple of kilometres out of town, all organically and harvested by hand, you’d get zero carbon emissions from it, and that’s another 14% saved.

Better public transport or living within a few kilometres of work and your hobbies would let you get rid of the car entirely, and that’s another 10% saved, only 1% to go. Better packaging for the stuff we buy would mean none of it is rubbish. Do we really need a paper tea bag to have a plastic wrapping on it, then be in a paper box with a plastic wrapping around that, too? Is this a cup of tea or surgery? That saves us another 3%. Awesome, we’re over-target.

So by our own day-to-day actions we can reduce our carbon emissions by 70% while improving our lives overall, and the other 20% we need some government help for.


Again, this is all talking about the average Westerner and what they can achieve in their own day-to-day lives. And it turns out that we can make a 65% reduction in our personal greenhouse gas emissions while improving our lives and physical health. For the other 25% we need some help. I say we make the 65% reduction, then our elected representatives will be more inclined to help us out with the other 25%.

An easily-achievable, 65% reduction. By contrast, as I write this, representatives of the developed world are wailing in terror just at talk of a non-binding goal of a 25-40% reduction… by 2020. For Australians, 25% is 3,745 and 40% is 5,992kg CO2e each. Taking public transport to work saves us 2,267, and changing from coal-generated to wind power without lowering power consumption saves us another 3,510kg CO2e, there you go, easy. 2020? I can do that by tomorrow!

Sure, this doesn’t make agriculture or industry change, but that’s a “what difference does my contribution make?” question, which will be the subject of another article.

Wow, and we didn’t even need Science! (TM) for it. A pity, really, it could have been fun.

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Catherine has been ‘borrowing’ my cashmere sweaters, and I realized I needed to replenish my stash. On my way to get groceries, I decided to stop by Anthropologie. Once in the store, I darted to the sales rack. No cashmeres, but tons of other sweaters. Nothing I really needed, or even wanted. But the old urge was there, to look for a bargain, and try things out, just in case. Needless to say, I started feeling guilty. I looked. Every single item I tried was made in China. That’s when the irony struck me. About the post I had just written a few hours ago, about my mind, playing games, and being pissed at the Chinese for not caring, and polluting tons.

When I visit Anthropologie, and I am willing to strike a deal with my dollars, I feed into the Chinese’ environmental orgy. Without me and all the other Westerners who are hungry for cheap Made in China goods, China would not have to produce like mad, or not as much.

I tried the sweaters on, and then left the store, empty handed.

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Public letters are in these days. The desmogblog has this cool project going, The 100 Year Letter Project, where various guests get to tell their version of the climate story. The latest one, by climate scientist Simon Donner was recently featured on DotEarth. Not wanting to be left out, I have my own version of a public letter. This one is to the future president of the United States.

To the Future President of the United States,

I am writing to ask that you please hear what I have to say as a concerned Green Girl Wannabe. See, there are all these talks in the media, about us, the people not being good green citizens

Not a day goes by, without us being accused of dumping more nasty gases into the air. We are told we drive too much, cars that are too big for our own good. We consume too much electricity. We are guilty of passively supporting coal mountaintop removal in the Appalachian Mountains. We fly too much. Our houses are too big. We don’t shut off our computers at night. We should be using public transportation more. We consume too much. We use too many plastic bags. We are responsible for a huge Garbage Patch in the midst of the Atlantic. We should recycle more. We should all have solar installations on our roofs. We should stop using our dryers and hang our clothes to dry on clotheslines. We should conserve water. We should plant more trees. We generate too much garbage. We eat too much red meat. We should stop our junk mail. We should weatherize our homes. We should switch to tankless water heaters. We should insulate. We should find jobs closer to home. We should stop procreating so much. We should . . .

Do you get it? I am overwhelmed with all that’s thrown at me. I have enough to deal with as it is. I’ve got family worries to deal with, teenagers rebelling, a mother going insane with Alzheimer’s, work to be done, the angst of midlife striking, a house to keep, and not enough hours in the day to keep it all together. And now, I am supposed to become a green citizen, on top of it all. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to be green. I am convinced the human race is heading towards catastrophe, unless we all start changing our ways, quick. I just can’t make these changes right now, the way things are set up. This is where you come into play.

I need you, Future President, to step up to the challenge, and lead us all with a vision to inspire, and a plan that will make it impossible for me and my fellow citizens to fail in our green wannabe efforts. The folks at the Presidential Climate Action Project already gave you a list of 300 concrete steps they want you to take as soon as we elect you. I also have a list, of 15 things I need from you:

  1. Make it harder for me to sin, and impose a carbon tax on all my bad habits
  2. Have standards in place that will let me know what is green and what is not
  3. Make it free for me to install solar on my roof
  4. Make it possible for me to trade in my old appliances for Energy Star appliances
  5. Make it hard for me to use my car, and set curfews.
  6. Set the example, and be a green citizen yourself
  7. Take the troops out of Irak, and train them as green soldiers to weatherize homes, do solar installs, and retrofit cars
  8. Ban bad plastics
  9. Impose limits on packaging
  10. Encourage telecommuting
  11. Cover the land with solar and wind farms, and more trees
  12. Lower the speed limit on freeways
  13. Build a national green transportation infrastructure of more trains, more buses, car share, bike routes, and no car zones.
  14. One day a month ask your people to do one green thing
  15. Sign the Basel Convention, so I can feel better about recycling my computer

These are all the things I need from you, Future President, if I am going to come through with my responsibilities as a green citizen.

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One day, Nadine surfaced in my blogging existence, and graced my blog with one of the most poetic comments I have ever come across. That was a few months ago. Since then, I have had the privilege of discovering her oh so inspiring poems and thought provoking pieces of prose. Nadine Sellers is a French writer… an observer of nature and mankind, a healer by profession, a teacher by avocation. After years in the desert West she is now living the writer’s perennial hope, sculpting a novel out of empiric survival and adventure. As she settles in the plains of the American Midwest, Nadine is in the process of crystallizing a lifelong passion for living, into an artful translation of ecological concern. Nadine brings science and literature into a blend of experimental exposé. You may find this fledgling project in Greenadine, her new blog, the inspiration for which arose from perusing green blogs and finding La Marguerite. just like that! out of the –green.


Six centuries BC. Lao Tsu wrote a set of basic principles which would simplify the relationship of man and nature. Succeeding philosophies have led us to an environmental impasse. Each moral cycle has spiraled mankind into poorly applied reasoning, and so man has lost his equilibrium. It will take good will and a lot of resolve to restore balance. Science has met with resistance ever since duality fostered a climate of rebellion in the mind of men.

” Knowing ignorance is strength, ignoring knowledge is sickness” from the Tao Te Ching.

As a lifelong amateur naturalist, i have found myself submerged by mounting evidence dooming personal efforts to irrelevancy. But wait! Before i drown in a nihilistic ocean of self pity, do allow me time to shake myself from defeatist complacency. The very nature which seeds doubt in mind, also offers enough resilience to adapt to changing conditions. As data streams in faster than laymen can fathom, the rest of us find the vestiges of old instincts kicking in under more than a century of industrial indoctrination.

Wherever i live, i seem to meet inveterate negaholics who refuse to admit there may be a causal factor to climate change. I have not confronted them publicly, but have met them within the ranks of family or friends. They question my way of life, very generously commenting on my apparent miserliness; Why do you save this? Just throw it out, nobody cares. Why bother, you’ll be dead before it becomes a problem. The list stretches beyond comprehension. So i use the wall strategy: when confronted, walk slowly around the bricks, actions speak louder than arguments. And then i write.

Resistance to change seems to drag the efforts of many a socio-economic level to adjust their consumption patterns. According to incoming scientific data, It appears to stem from an aversion to authority. The teacher, the preacher, the tax collector, and now some stranger wants them to give up the Trans-Am in the back-yard, and quit using the dual wheel monster truck to go to get a pack of cigarettes at the corner store? Clearly a clash of cultures here.

I live in the Midwest and yesterday, i saw the first cloth bag prominently displayed at the grocery store: “paper or plastic? Neither” boasted the printed logo. And i knew this tiny town had heard the drummer of the future. Of course the resident Amish culture slows the competitive edge of progress, and i appreciate it. Respect for the horse drawn carriage on the highway teaches necessary patience. Simplicity and conservatism can be useful attributes in the conflict of man versus Gia.

Thought Soup, an Environmental BlogAct by Nadine Sellers

There is a symbiotic relationship between spenders and savers in this, our biosphere. The insurmountable pile of evidence which dooms our puny efforts, also gives rise to new hope. In the most mundane of gestures you will find tiny treasures of personal pride. I write this first draft with a plastic pen, the logo claims “fire and water damage clean-up”, how relevant. The paper which i use to scratch out my outlines on, results from an apparent leak in the marketing strategies of junk-mail zealots. Any blank space is an invitation to real use, then the paper kindles my fire, added BTU for hearth and home. No waste in this household. I don’t play games with my conscience, no carbon trade-off mentality, not even a shade of humor in my staunch resolve to optimize the use of every resource available to me.

It is a game; a challenge to my imagination. I must find just one more way to use and re-use each product for which i am essentially grateful. Of course in the trial and error field of empiric savings, there have been casualties. Just yesterday, my innovative soup-du-jour turned out so acidic, i had to prematurely commit it to the compost pile, much to my palate’s dismay. What a waste of a perfectly good Halloween pumpkin! It was the last crop of turnips that ruined it all.

Out here in the back room of convenience, i ride the comfort zone. Bicycles parked in the garage for winter. Gas heater plugged in as nocturnal back-up to the fireplace. Electric appliances at the ready, though manual versions preferred. I console myself with the fact that the town council has voted for the installation of a wind farm upon the hill. How romantic, they’re going to grow some wind; i like local utilities, i prefer the ones which make responsible choices to produce energy from sustainable sources. And let me tell you, the winds around the prairie states are indeed sustained.

Entrenched in semi solid autonomy, i view governmental leadership as entertaining rather than worthy of worship. It saddens me to watch the mainstream throng catering to corporate idealism. When elected officials downplay irrefutable research and steer their constituency toward run away consumerism, i find my easy chair much too confining. If ecological concerns are relegated to dishonorable status beneath the lofty goals of economic growth, we could destroy entire biomes across the planet. We have. We continue to do so.

Readers, take heed from the Indonesian Government; a communique from Jakarta informs us that the Bali summit which is to begin Monday Dec. 3rd will be taking measures to save tons of carbon emissions. I can envision 190 international ministers and assorted staffs commuting by bicycle between meetings and workshops. The whole motley group followed by as many journalists and servants. All are cautioned to wear light clothing and short sleeves. Representatives of the United Nations Climate Change Consortium should not mind applying their own advice.

From this green segment of the map, i wish to extend a sense of communal spirit. I derive existential satisfaction from exchanging experience, be it mundane or universal. May the current steer us away from blind consumption, and toward true appreciation of our nature. I do believe it is in the acquired taste of a simple glass of water. Drink up to the new greens and the old ones too!..

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Ever wonder if you can make a difference for a more sustainable world? Read the article I wrote on Lisa Max, in Environmental Graffiti:


Grandma Dreams up Big Solar Plan in Kitchen


If you are like Lisa, and have been an agent of sustainable changes in your community, drop me a note. I have this series of guest posts on La Marguerite, where I invite people just like you, to share their stories. It’s called BlogActs, for blogging and activism.

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Last week’s Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day, inspired me to write, ‘Finding a Sustainable Middle in a Country of Extremes‘.

Yesterday was Black Friday. Despite all my good intentions, I ended up joining the crowds at the mall. I have gotten much better at taming my consuming urges, to the point where I do not even feel the desire any more. To refuse my daughter, however, that’s another story altogether. She was so sweet, and I wanted to please her. Off we went, and ended purchasing all three items on her ‘need or rather want’ list. If I still had any remaining doubts on the extent of the challenge facing our society, the sight of all these people, happily walking from store to store, multiple shopping bags in hand, and on a mission to find more bargains, put an end to them.

Then, comes Adbusters, and its arresting Buy Nothing Day TV ad with a burping pig, calling for us to put a stop to our consuming frenzy. I did not know about Buy Nothing Day, until a few days ago. Now, it seems everywhere I turn, someone has vowed to not buy anything for a day, a week, and sometimes even as long as a year. You can make it as tough as you like, depending on your own fortitude. The Compact people are gathering momentum, and their two year old Yahoo Group of diehard non-shoppers is going strong with 8,500 members. There is also No Impact Man and his one year experiment.

From one extreme, to the other. Either you can shop till you drop dead, or you are to stop shopping, cold turkey. In both cases, I dare question the sustainability of such extreme behaviors. It is now an established realization, that we cannot keep on consuming the way we do, without jeopardizing life as we know it on this planet. What concerns me, . . .

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