Archive for the ‘Eco-Rants’ Category

Blog Me Green

June 25, 2009

There is an awful lot of “green” going around today. There is green marketing, green washing, even green tweeters wearing tint on their avatars to show support for the Iranian protesters. Green means change. Green means hope. But we have reached a green saturation point. Hungry for quality green ideas, everyone is spray-painting their old ideas as some combination of yellow + blue = green. We are so bombarded by the color that we can’t see the forest for all the trees, or if you will, the green for all the leaves.
Inside the leaves of a tree, green is the color of transformation. Taking photons of light and carbon-dioxide from the air, the green photosynthetic process makes carbon which the plant can then use to build itself and reproduce. As a by-product oxygen is realeased back into the air. When we talk about sustainability, we often speak of lessening the damage we do to the environment as we go about our business. Truly green practices, however, do more than refrain from damaging the environment, they actually improve it. Like the plants that clean our over-polluted air for us, green blogging and social networking can clean up the harmful social atmosphere that has produced a culture and economy based on waste.  They are the main tools by which a new culture can emerge that mimics, in a human way, the incredible process of photosynthesis. Human energy goes into a “product” that is not only sustainable, but truly life-affirming. And the by-product, or the “waste” product from all this green-blogging and social-networking? Pure and clean hope that people can actually use to make small changes in their lives.
What is truly exciting about green networking is the snowball effect it can have. Once an idea is given a good start, it rolls downhill gaining size and momentum until it is unstoppable. By multiplying small changes in the way one person lives by thousands and thousands of people, in an outward spreading network of ideas and information, we clean the atmosphere of our culture just like the green leaves of a tree clean the air.

10 Ways for Brave People to Save Money

June 23, 2009

First off, you must remember that the only way to save money is to NOT spend it. Fear of change is normal; accept it gradually and with an open mind.

1.) Cancel your cable

If your mental health can handle not watching your favorite T.V. shows and disconnecting from the vast majority of Americans who are seduced by the “bube-tube” every night, you might reap dividends greater than just saving money. If having to miss the Daily Show or the Colbert Report might send you into a depressive tailspin, you should at least program your thumb to mute commercials and avert your eyes when the ads rear their ugly heads. T.V. advertisers are very sophisticated at creating need and perpetuating the idea that you can’t be happy if you don’t buy what they’re selling. I know that smart professionals often think they are impervious to sales pitches, but the data shows that no matter how smart you are, you can be emotionally manipulated into thinking that you need something that you don’t really need.
So unplug. Turn off your T.V. and learn an instrument such as the harmonica or the drums. Read a book or develop an artistic ability. For thousands of years humans have entertained themselves. Why pay for others to entertain you when you can do it yourself?

2.) Go veggie

A vegetarian diet will pay dividends in your pocketbook as well as in your personal health and the health of the environment. Did you know that after car emissions, bovine flatulence is the number 2 contributor to greenhouse gasses, and therefore global climate change? Cut out the red meat from your diet first, and then think about the over-fishing that our seas suffer and cut back on fish. Even poultry is more expensive than beans and rice.
To make sure that you are getting all your amino acids, be sure to eat a variety of beans and rice. Quinoa is a great source of amino acids and cooks just like rice. Add peanuts and other nuts to your dishes to increase the protein. Add an egg to Mac-n-Cheese and bake it for 10 min (this was the traditional recipe before Kraft came along), or drop one in your “top-ramen” (be sure not to use the entire spice packet because it is over loaded with sodium and will increase your blood pressure and decrease your stress tolerance). Soy products such as edamame are a healthy and protein filled substitute to potato chips as an hors-oeuvre. Remember, the native Americans lived off the land and ate very little meat. The main reason white folk keep meat as their dietary anchor is because when our ancestors came to this land, they didn’t know how to eat anything else. Then they killed all the natives who knew how to eat the local vegetation, and almost killed all the bison, too. Every Thanksgiving we eat corn-on-the-cob to celebrate how stupid and short sighted our ancestors were.
Personally, I’d be a total vegetarian, but I just don’t hate vegetables enough. Once in a while I do eat meat, and I don’t sweat it. I wish I could kill my own game, but sadly, the opportunities to shoot and kill my own prey are few and far between these days. Plus, I’d need a large freezer to store the meat, and that wouldn’t save me any money at all.

3.) Make your own spreadable butter

Let soften 1 lb. of butter. Blend it with 1 1/3 cup canola oil. Add a pinch of salt and put it in a recycled tupperware container (such as the “I can’t believe it’s not butter” tub that you have washed and reused three times already to store leftovers) and refrigerate. Saves you money and saves you calories.

4.) Sell your old books to a used book store

If you aren’t planning on reading that copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” a fifth time, box it up with all of your romance and sci-fi novels and take them on down to the used book store.

5.) Ride your bike to the grocery store

Now, I know that you aren’t really into exercise all that much, and using calories to go purchase more calories seems like an oxymoron, but riding a bike or skateboard to the supermarket or farmer’s market will save you more than just the cost of gas. It will also prevent you from buying too much of those over packaged specialty items. You will find yourself buying more things in bulk, and less canned goods. You will buy powder juice mixes instead of frozen juice or boxed juice. I know some of you are going to laugh at this idea, but if you start to realize that your car is a luxury, not a necessity, you will be three steps closer to a sustainable lifestyle. You might also lose that gut without ever having to pay for a gym membership and a personal trainer.
Just be careful and use caution when riding/skating in heavy car traffic. Drivers are notoriously unaware of what’s going on around them.
I can already feel the fear in your heads crying out that “I’m too old” or “I’m too distinguished” to be seen riding my bike the grocery store. Is there a social stigma against being economical, athletic, and environmentally minded? These social stigmas are designed to keep your money flowing out of your pockets. Don’t listen to them.

7.) Wash and reuse your plastic zip-lock bags

These are one of those ubiquitous modern conveniences that are a slow drain on every pocketbook. How much do we pay for a month’s worth of sandwich bags? And everyday we throw them in the trash? Or do we drop them on the ground, where they run down the gutter and into the bay where they begin drifting slowly towards that new island of floating plastic debris in the middle of the Pacific ocean that is already the size of Texas?
These bags are completely reusable and very easy to clean. Just turn them inside out and rinse them off. If there is jelly or something cheesy/meaty stuck to them, scrub them with a dish sponge. Set them out to dry and then turn them right side out, fold them back up, and stick them back in the box.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

7.) Bottle your own water

Tap water is just as good as (if not better than) much of the bottled water out there. If your highly discriminatory taste buds can tell the difference between tap water and the geyser water that is bottled in wasteful plastic containers, find a tap attachment or jug style charcoal filter that creates the taste you want. I have found, for myself, that the Pur style faucet attachment works very well, and I have very picky tastes when it comes to my water. In any case, the convenience of bottled water can be reinvented over and over again by refilling the bottles with your own brand of purification.

8.) Use sponges instead of cotton

For the women out there, and perhaps the men who care about the women they love,  it should be apparent that the cotton industry has too long been run by men who extort women for their absorption needs. Tampons and pads are ridiculously expensive pieces of cotton designed (often by men) to handle a phenomenon that has been going on for a lot longer than commerce and the invention of money. Maybe it’s time to rethink the way female biology interacts with the American economy. Not only are there female owned cotton companies, but there is a natural and reusable alternative to cotton. A sea sponge needs to be rinsed out about every 3 hours and thoroughly cleaned and dried at the end of each menstrual cycle, but one sponge will last about six months.

9.) Plant a Garden

Acquire some seeds (most gardeners have plenty extra, so ask around), wrap them in a wet paper towel until they sprout, then plant them in some soil. Gardening can be very rewarding. I know that some people out there have branded themselves as black-thumbed, unable to keep anything alive. Just because your radish died in 3rd grade doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to cultivate. Gardening is so simple that our modern complicated lifestyles make agriculture seem counter-intuitive, but it isn’t. Relax, pay attention, and enjoy the process. Just let the plant grow. It really is that easy. You can get all caught up in the details of how much sunlight, how much water,  and what type of soil amendments to use, etc. In the end, a plant wants to grow and reproduce all by itself, so let it.

10.) Win tickets

College radio stations frequently give away tickets to local music events. Pay attention and call in. The listening audiences are often quite small for college radio stations, so you have a very good chance of winning. Just be ready to enjoy something “completely different” from your normal night out.

Taking risks and being adventurous are the keys to success in a turbulent economy. There is a revolution coming that will dethrone the old tyrannical ideas that are the foundation for much of our culture.

Hand-me-down world

April 15, 2009

In the world of the Yeti, Santa Claus is the friendly neighbor human who brings the word from the race of humans who are being naughty and destroying the earth. Santa stopped bringing them gifts, or even coal, every year almost a century ago now, but the clever humans found their way around Santa’s little naughty list. They dressed each other up like him and deluded themselves that they deserved all the gifts they gave each other.

 

The parents are complicit in their deception of their own children. They have to be. They must attempt to avoid the wrath of their offspring if they ever figure out what greed and unfettered consumerism have done to the planet that the children are to inherit. In the world of hand-me-down presents, the next generation of humans are receiving the most tattered gift imaginable: a world soon to be uninhabitable. Thanks mom, thanks dad.

 

Is it any wonder that the humans fear teaching evolution and science in schools? Is it any wonder that the adults repeatedly opt to fund wars and their reconstructions over education and health care for the children? If the children were to be educated, they might start to think for themselves, and if they did that, they might realize who their real enemy is. One can only imagine the revolution that will occur once the youth of the world unite in an effort to stop the continued destruction of the environment.

 

This is a question of survival. Not ethics. There will be some humans with so much wealth, so much capital, that they will be able to afford to run away to a space station or a lunar-based bio-sphere. The rest of life as we know it will perish here on earth. Will they suffer from survivor guilt?

  

The sad thing is that, with the technology available today, even if humans were to cease all their polluting and energy consuming ways, the earth would continue to suffer from global climate change for the foreseeable future. Maybe it would take the environment 100, or 500, or even a few thousand years to move beyond the damage that has been caused by human activity. The A-bomb and H-bomb may not be the means to the end, but they certainly foreshadow the destruction that is eminent.

 

The Yeti peers out to the horizon, squinting against the fading light and alpenglow. The race of dumb hairless apes are finally realizing their folly. Their intuition proceeds before their logical split-hemisphere brains; warring factions of hope and despair, planning and reminiscing. In the hormones of youth lie the power to overcome. Revolution will only come by massive bloodshed. It will be the young finding a way to destroy the older generations and their treasured hypocrisies. Santa Claus will finally deliver a present worth opening.

 

 

Career Dysphoria

March 31, 2009

            It isn’t so fresh anymore, this burden of trying to distinguish oneself. It mulls together; what you do, what I do, who we are and what makes us unique. We are all quite indistinguishable. We pigeon hole ourselves, hoping that the cubby we chose has better amenities than the cubby next door. That would indicate our success. Or would it just indicate the failure of our counterpart?

            Biology would claim that the number one indicator of success is the number of offspring we have. What might Wall Street have to say about that? In America, the poorer you are, the more likely you are to have more children. And receive welfare. The more kids, the greater the check. Meanwhile, I check myself into the local attitude hospital. The diagnoses? Severe career dysphoria.

            Offspring are not special in a society where anyone can have them, and even the most genetically damaged of our species are able to survive to have offspring. The drive for success and innovation is valued by society, but biology continues to value only our ability to reproduce. Human evolution is devolution, and there is no reversing the trend. We venerate those who accelerate the devolution by providing services for the destitute. “How compassionate!” we say, “How divine!” We rescue an endangered bird from extinction, while simultaneously rescuing their number one predators from unfortunate infections. We rescue the weak from a bully, but give the bully a badge and a gun, and tell him to protect us if anything really nasty comes along. Then a tiger gets out. The tranq-darts can only be fired by the zookeeper who’s on vacation today, so the bully shoots the tiger.

            I cannot consider the loss of human life tragic. Tragedy does exist, I am sure, but the loss of human life does not define tragedy. A life lived in fear, or in a pigeon hole: that is tragedy. Most humans live a life of tragedy. Their death is a relief from that tragedy.

            And the world will be relieved from the tragedy of human evolution when we finally suffocate ourselves with the pollution from our own greed. Human ingenuity isn’t so fresh anymore. The dolphins and whales beaching themselves in mass suicide have spoken. Yeti cannot mourn.