Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Red in the Face When Trying to be "Green"

Is it me? I just can’t understand these “try to save the world” types. You know the kind – those “green” people. Believe me, I do my share of recycling – from cans, bottles, paper, cardboard and anything else that can be reused, I just refuse to take it a step further. There are some people who go as far as altering their life around ‘saving the earth’. This is great if you can do it. But when they criticize me for not doing the same “extreme” measures, then I’m seen as wasteful and not resourceful enough, or that I simply don’t care about our planet.

“You know, you should really shop with a burlap bag instead of using those plastic bags that the grocery stores give you.” someone told me. Hey, I’ll try anything once. In my mind, I thought maybe it’ll work. Maybe I can pull this off. So, when I went to the Hamptons at the beach house, I decided to borrow a burlap bag to take to the grocery store. Not only would it be convenient because it was one huge duffle bag that I could store tons of items in while walking down to the beach house, but it would save me a few trips, since it’s quite a hike down the hill to get to the house. So picture it: I’m at the store and I’m trying to load everything into this huge floppy bag. The container of eggs was next to the huge can of coffee – which ultimately would crush the eggs to death in the travels. Then I had the bread that got squashed by the container of milk that fell on top of it. Don’t even get me started with how bad the beer treated my produce.


So, the next time I went to the grocery store, I still brought the burlap bag with me, because I found that it was a huge help just to make one trip, instead of a few, because of the size of the bag – but, I packed my goods separately in those EVIL yellow plastic bags. I even doubled on some of them. I know – these bags are flowing around the landfills making our earth a little more “yellow” than green, but you have to admit – these little bags are quite useful! Not only do they hold the groceries better than those paper brown bags, but you can also use them for trash bags too, instead of buying those brand name trash bags. The 2 cents they charge you at the supermarket is totally worth it in my opinion. So, in a way, I am recycling them! But then again…they go right back into the dumpster after I use them as trash bags obviously.

These plastic bags that are given to the public never break down, which means that over time, the toxicity of the make of up these bags will eventually hurt our environment – if it hasn’t already. In a local newspaper, I read this little factoid: “Plastic bags, while cheap and convenient, never biodegrade. Over time (sometimes thousands of years) they break into smaller and smaller particles, but they never break down into natural products that can re-enter the environment. These particles are toxic in both the soil and water and can pass up the food chain from the smallest animals right up to humans. In the ocean, plastic bags are mistaken for food by fish, birds, and sea mammals. More than a million animals a year die when they ingest or become entangled in plastic bags and other plastic refuse.”

Here’s my problem: we were given a smart and convenient way to store our groceries, until it was too late. If the government and higher ups know about this huge problem, then why don’t they make bags that are earth friendly, instead of suggesting to the public not to use them any longer? Is it costs? Can’t they find a better method for us? Even though I know the problem exists and it’s getting much worse, it’s just not a practical solution for me to use a paper bag or burlap bag when I have a few flights of stairs to trek up to my apartment. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Yes, I feel awful about using something that’s killing our animals and earth – but why present it in the first place when now, we just can’t get rid of it?

Don’t even get me started with hybrid cars. If they really wanted us to drive them, they would make them much more affordable to the middle working class people.

Why is it so hard to “save the earth”?


Enemy of the Republic said...

My sister is very into the Green movement and I generally watch my words. To me,the biggest problem is how we use cars and energy. In Europe, people are agast at our versions of a hot shower. Why do we drive these monster trucks and bitch about the price of gas? Have you ever tried to get fresh air in L.A. or Philly? I have ashtma, so I am really sensitive to that. Some of these recycling measures are soothing to those who want to do something, but not too much, like give up the Explorer or the Hummer. My sister owns an SUV! How am I supposed to take her recycling mantra seriously when she drives one of those beasts? I much prefer dealing with people who are honest: yes, I drive a Hummer and I don't give a damn about clean air. No, I don't like it, but at least we can avoid all the hand wringing and get into a proper debate.

グラント said...

My blog feed thingamabooble (forgive the tech jargon) has been showing no feed from your site for a few days. Perhaps it's karma for your failure to save the world.

I have faith in our planet's ability to handle a little plastic. If we are killing the Earth, it will retaliate with another ice age and wipe us out like the pests we are. The planet's fine - the people are screwed up. The sooner they all die, except for me and you and a few Japanese hotties who know how to make beer, the better.

The next time the extremists get vocal, scream at them for wasting oxygen that our planet's rain forrests worked so hard to create. Or step up and do your part by killing them for food, converting them to poo, and then using that to fertilize your garden. After all, if we're going to talk about recycling, let's get serious. For myself, I think I'll promise them that for every plastic bag they don't use, I personally will stomp on a chipmunk.

~Deb said...

Enemy: I agree with ‘don’t bitch and moan about the price of gas if you own an SUV’ part, but there are some people, (like myself) who live outside of the city and travel to parts that totally need the 4X4 and space. I spent $74 on gas the other day and I expected it. That’s what I mean - why can’t they make it easier for those who need the SUV’s, yet save the environment at the same time? It’s not convenient for us – nor is it affordable to go out and get a hybrid version of our trucks.

Something’s gotta give!

????: You managed to make me laugh today – so thank you! I don’t know why my feeds aren’t showing up. I noticed that one too. It’s karma. The “green” monsters are out to get me… The poor chipmunks. I think it gets too extreme when there aren’t any easier avenues to take as far as recycling goes. I’m all for it – but let me be “able” to do it.

Matt-Man said...

I respect anyone who truly believes in going out of their way to get behind a cause such as trying to keep the world "green."

But, like most other causes or beliefs, don't try to chastise me or brow beat me into the same thinking. I am a responsible citizen and don't waste resources, but I am not going to change my entire life to "save the world". Just back off folks. Enjoy your plastic bages Deb, I know I will. Cheers!!

~Deb said...

I think it's great when people put their time and energy as well as tossing their convenience aside to 'save the world', but don't expect others to go to those same extreme measures... God bless ya & those yellow evil bags Matt-man!

Art said...

Yeah if they really wanted us to drive hybrids, they would make them fast and hot-looking. My sports car get 20 mpg and, no, I don't bitch about gas prices;)

It is a serious issue, though, and we should all do more. It just seems like some folks take it to the extreme...

~Deb said...

Those hybrids are bloody ugly aren't they? I totally agree with you - I do my part, I recycle everything I possibly can, but it's just not feasible for me to walk up a slew of stairs with huge paper bags or a burlap bag that'll break all my eggs.

Anyone have other solutions?

Roland Hulme said...

I moved to America and thought: 'Hey, I don't want to drive a sensible fuel-efficient car like I had in England' so I went out and bought a cherry red 5.0 litre Pimpmobile.

And now I feel really guilty about it. :-(

Great post, though. Some really sensible thoughts about the whole green issue.

How come we ALL should apparently be eating organic and driving hybrids - but you can't afford it unless you're a rich celebrity?

~Deb said...

That's what I'm talking about, Roland! Affordable cars and organic foods make it much more accessible to those who do want to make a difference. For now, it's recycling whatever I can. Someone just told me that they heard that they were getting completely rid of plastic bags in the grocery stores.

Does anyone know if this is true or not?

Enemy of the Republic said...

74 dollars! Wow. Okay, I let you off the hook--I know some people need the 4x4, just like others need trucks and vans for work. I am referring to the abuse; a lot of people buy SUVs solely for the advantage it gives them on the road and they are cool looking--generally these are frightened drivers who make left turns while pedestrians are crossing (they are so high up that they don't see the people) and really don't drive well. Yes, I am generalizing, but I've seen it so often in the city where SUVs are just a pain. People with kids can get a Saturn stationwagon--it holds plenty and it is cheaper too! I don't know how many times I will be crossig at an intersection on foot with my son and one of these cars rides into us. Twice they scraped us, and I was not kind.

~Deb said...

Well, I'm not exactly in the city - I'm right on the outskirts. But, when I visit my mother - and this is the time I was living in the apartment above them, I totally needed a powerful SUV to get me up the mountain that was a mile up. Literally. And in the snow, since it was a private driveway, no one plowed. Sometimes it would be completely covered with ice. I travel at times, where I need a lot of room, and the 4x4 is needed especially in the winter. Those who live in the city though----no. No use. But, if they are huge luggage carriers or travel a lot, then maybe.

My girlfriend works for a well known dealership that sells high end SUVs that I prefer and love - plus they are what I "need" ---- not want. I don't trust Saturns or Hyundais, because they are cheaply made and proved to be bad in crash testing.

I will try to contribute any other way, except to risk my safety.

I hear you though...

Will said...

I deal with these issues quite a bit on my site. The thing is that we can all make a contribution to the "greening" of society without big sacrifice. We each just do what we can without worrying about HOW green we are. As with any issue if we view it as all or nothing, it will usually end up being nothing.

Also, none of this should be forced in anyone's face. Even I have need for a big 4 wheel drive pickup at times, so I own one. But for most of my driving I use a Scion XA which gets great gas mileage. I find that even with the initial cost of the car, and insurance, my yearly cost is still about the same as if I drove the big truck only.

Everyone should just do what you can and want to do and cut others some slack on their green choices.

What really drives this issue is affordability. When things like LED light bulbs get price competitive, people will buy them.


Comrade Kevin said...

People often WANT to feel as though they are making a difference and it gives them a sense of purpose to be eco-friendly.

However, when they take their concerns and their desires without a sense of irony, then you have problems.

To answer your question: right now eco-friendly products and services are available only to the reasonably well off. There hasn't been financial incentive until now for corporations to invest in green products. With time, hybrid cars and more effective ways to carry groceries will be developed but these sorts of things take time. Businesses are designed to make money and as much of it as they can. Times are changing and compared to five years ago, there is so much more eco-friendly stuff available then there used to be.

~Deb said...

Will: Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I think it’s a personal issue whether or not how extreme we want to go as far as putting “effort” into it – depending on what a person “can” do. I think it’s awful when others make people feel bad because they can’t reach their “green potential”. I think you have some great answers and thoughts that others can really relate to. Thanks again!

Comrade Kevin: And that’s it – when is it simply about them wanting to feel as though they’re contributing, and end up putting it in everyone’s face, or those who genuinely take care of their earth without the repercussions on others who don’t do as much? I absolutely can’t stand to be around people who “act” too green, yet don’t do their part. Some of them are hypocrites. But, if someone’s absolutely passionate about it, then fine, spread the word, and if those around you can achieve your “green goals” – then fine. If not…let it go. I hope things get more accessible and manageable to do as far as these plastic bags go. Thank so much for your input!

CP said...

I have to admit, I am more a whiter shade of pale than I am green. I am terrible with the recycling shit. But I do re-use my little plastic garbage bags. They are perfect for picking up biodegradable dog shit.


Pittchick said...

I have several of the canvas bags that I use when I go shopping, but half the time I forget about them and they never make it into the store!
People who are overzealous like that just make me laugh. That's fine if that's how they want to be, but don't make me feel bad for not doing the same thing!

~Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Deb said...

Goes to show that the plastic bags do help with biodegradable "crap"! ;) You're too much, CP! Love ya!!! xxoo

Pittchick: Those kind of people annoy the hell out of me, but I do understand their concerns, for I have them to, but they're not being reasonable when it comes to how convenient it is (or lack thereof) for the other person to do the same.

Sylvia G said...

Great topic...I think it's important that we all become more aware and that every little bit more we try to do that we didn't yesturday will make our tomorrow better.

Reusable Bags said...

I'm happy to see this on your blog! The amount of plastic bag waste is incredible. From Au Bon Pan's plastic bags for every damn item to grocery clerks using excessive bags. I'm using a Reusable Totebag now and guess what? It's finally being accepted by the clerks. At first they balked saying store policy, plastic bags only. (Sheesh!) :(

TrappedInColorado said...

Right! How dare the people who made those plastic bags don't make it easy to stop using them! After all, they do not put money over the health of the planet.

Sorry, Deb. You really missed the boat on this. Why does everything have to be easy before even attempting to accomplish? It is easy to be come addicted to something but it will not be easy to break that addiction no matter how much better you will be off.

I bought a hybrid. With the savings in gas and the tax credit I got it was not that much more. I can not put a price on the peace of mind I have knowing that I am
putting out much fewer harmful

Americans (and I say Americans since we are far and away the worse offenders) need to step up to the plate and do a bit of sacrificing now while it will not me THAT hard. Like that commercial used to say "You can pay be now, or pay me later." Only, you won't be doing the paying. Your grand children will.


~Deb said...

Well Trapped, if I could afford to do so, then I would...but it's not practical. Me and many other people cannot afford to pay for a hybrid --"pay now or pay later"----why don't you tell the government and big wigs that before blaming the small guys? Wouldn't that be the wiser choice?

It must be nice to be rich! ;)

TrappedInColorado said...


I was not referring to buying a hybrid car. I'm talking in general about changing our ways to stop the destruction. Some of those ways are not easy but will be harder the longer we procrastinate. We can not count on the government to get things done.

btw - I'm far from rich!


~Deb said...

I see. I just wonder why they don't make those options more readily available to those who can't afford the luxuries of hybrids, etc. But, I see your point. Contributions such as recycling is a great start - other than that, if you feel that you can do the extra mile, then great. :)

Can we recycle Ketel One, Trapped??? Or would that be Level?

kathi said...

Charlie is 'green' and I respect his dreams...I remember mine too when I was his age. I watch myself more than I would if he didn't care...seperate and recycle. He also wants a hybrid, best of luck there, babe. He, though, wants it more because of the price of gas. He just rented Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth. Me...I love plastic bags, I use them for doing the cat litter every day. I've tried the canvas bags for groceries, and yeah, they're not practical.

Don't Blame Me, I didn't vote for Bush said...

Well I have to say that this whole "you have to be rich to buy a hybrid" is a load of crap. We bought a hybrid, we DEFINITELY are not rich, in fact we fall in the lower-middle class area. The other vehicle that we have is a 91 Ford Explorer. I am lucky to get 16 miles a gallon with it, and this vehicle was inherited from my grandfather. But as another commenter said before, it's about taking the small steps that you CAN afford - changing bulbs to CFL's, recycling, buying recycled products, not wasting energy, etc. If you can buy organic, great. We try to, but it definitely has an effect on our budget. Still, the point is to do what you can. Those plastic bags really are horrible, but finding the right reusable bag can be difficult. We have a supermarket here that sells reusable bags with fairly rigid plastic inserts in the bottom which make them FANTASTIC bags. Don't give up on using something more earth friendly, just take some time to look. We actually get a small discount for every time we use our bags rather than the store's ($.10 per bag, per trip).

As for making it public policy to move greener, well the current administration plays a big hand in slowing that down. Businesses are beginning to realize on their own that being "green" also saves them money, AND attracts more customers.

I certainly can't identify with living in a big city, I live in the largest city in Idaho, which New York would probably manage to fit into one appartment building. I only know that what we are doing, and have been doing, is having drastic consequences on every aspect of life on this planet. For example, did you know there are detectable levels of synthetic estrogen, Prozac, and even caffeine in stream and river water? There is loads of data to back this up, but the government is afraid to say much for fear of public panic, and because they can't definitively say what effect that has on humans. But how long do you really think it can go on? We have only been in this industrial age for less than 2 centuries, and look what we have managed to do.

On the flip side, even if we don't change a thing, the earth will survive. Probably without the smartest monkeys on the marble.

titration said...

Do you think I get points for brining those plastic bags back to the story to have them recycled? Hmmm. Yeah.