What Can I Do?

I've never thought of myself as an environmentalist; I never put much thought into what's going on with the planet, or how I personally am affecting it. Shoot, in my family, environmentalist was almost a dirty word, conjuring images of mud-caked hippies hugging trees under clouds of marijuana.

I have been thinking lately, though, about how incredibly wasteful we human beings are. I'm guilty, and I'll admit it; when I take out the garbage, I always have five or six bags full of uneaten food, plastic bags, paper products, etc. It seems like a lot waste for one person to generate.

While conducting my little experiment last week, I found myself contemplating the areas in which I thoughtlessly waste resources.

One of those was electricity. I leave lights on all the time. In fact, I have one lamp that stays on around-the-clock, until the bulb burns out.

Another thing I waste is food. I have thrown out a bunch of rotten food in my time. It just sits in the fridge, and I'll look at it from time to time, and then go to Sonic. I believe I have some frozen ground beef in my freezer that's been there the entire three years I've lived here. I don't know why I bought it; I must have had good intentions to start cooking more, which I then ignored.

That, of course, leads right into my next area of wastefulness: money. That uneaten food represents money that I've lost. So does the electric bill, from when I leave the lights on all the time, or the water bill, from letting the water run when I'm not using it. Even my satellite bill shows a measure of waste, since I actively watch only about ten channels out of the available three hundred or so.

Once I became aware of how much I was wasting, I decided to try to change my wicked ways. I've started turning off lights when I'm not in the room. I turn off the water when I'm brushing my teeth. I take my lunch to school and eat at home. I even bought reusable water bottles and food containers, so I don't build myself a new pile of plastic bags and soda bottles.

Yesterday I made a resolution: I'm going to start using recyclable market bags. It serves another purpose as well, since I need a new knitting project anyway. And it does help, a little. I've got about seven thousand plastic bags in this house; I do not need any more.

I fully expect that the people at Kroger will look at me strangely, and I'll probably blush and try to disappear, before I remember that I am Making a Statement, or that I am Not Being Wasteful So There.

It's a little thing--miniscule--but it's a start. I want to see where else I can eliminate waste (that sounds like a bathroom discussion, right?) in my current living situation; I'm not going to start wearing, like, hemp shirts or taking a shower only every six days or anything. There IS a limit to how far I would go to save the planet.

I'm not trying to make myself into a saint here. I'm not even sure I'm doing this because of any altruistic motives. I just feel like, here's a teeny tiny something I can do, just in case those crazy tree-huggers are right after all.


angela said...

Hey there! I am reading "Farewell, My Subaru" by Doug Fine-- it's all about his move to New Mexico to attempt to live a carbon consumption-free lifestyle. I think you'd like it :)

J said...

yay, reusing bags! I've done that for a few years now. and now, sometimes people don't even give me weird looks! :) Also, try to find a store that has a recycle bin for plastic bags, that will help you feel better too. :)

and hey, at least these changes will positively affect your cashflow, so that's a happy point for all!

Mei said...

Angela, I'll have to look for that. I have seen the episode of Morgan Spurlock's show where he goes off the grid. I'm not quite ready for that, but I am looking for options!

J, I know Kroger recycles plastic bags, but realistically, I probably would never remember to take them up there. Maybe I'll start a trend!

Joon bug said...

You can be like the lady on the news that took her Kroger bags to Walmart to use thm for bagging groceries and Walmart turned her bags away. Of course, Walmart came out with a statement and apologized and said they will accept her bags.

We, too, have been turning off lights and water when not in use. We also chose to eat leftovers tonight instead of spending money on dinner.

When you were writing that blog, my first thought was, 'Oh no, I hope she's not turning into a freegan." LOL

Mei said...

Joon, I give you my solemn promise that I will never, no never, become a freegan. Ever.


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