Monday, April 20, 2009

Spare me from Going Green for Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on April 22 and everywhere you look, it's green.

I don't mean the glorious yellow-puce just emerging from the brown tips of branches heralding springtime. I don't even mean the hues of Paddy or Kermit.

The latter found it wasn't easy being green, but nowadays it's unavoidable, and not just because I live in The Emerald City (nickname of Seattle). Green is not the state of Washington, but a newly ubiquitous state of mind.

No longer is this just stewardship for our world, but one fat fad that now is used to sell a raft of unnecessary products, or the ones we've already had--just with new packaging.

Recycling, conservation, care for the environment, ecology are well and good. These are terms I've known since middle school. I've separated my newspapers and bottles and cans and wet garbage for decades, though last year our town told us to just dump all the recyclables into the same bin. I can't even bring myself to do it. I happen to be married to a fellow who famously swerves off the road and leaps out of the car to retrieve every stray Starbucks cup or Kleenex.

I reuse tin foil. I wear hand-me-ups. I eat expired food as long as it doesn't smell bad. Waste, in our home, is sin. If it's yellow, we do let it mellow, and some of our guests can, to our chagrin, verify this.

But there's a difference between prudence and thrift and this putrid Green Machine, this hype that throws itself in my face and sticks, dripping down my consciousness like a pitched lemon meringue pie.

Those twisted fluorescent light bulbs I bought? The color hurts my eyes, half of them don't work, and they become toxic waste when they die. Those "green" detergents and cleaning potions are a lot more expensive than white vinegar, Dutch cleanser, baking soda and water.

I don't want to read about any more "green" houses. If I could put a windmill on my roof, I would; if I could reconfigure my lot so my windows faced southwest, I would; if I lived where the sun poked through the clouds, I'd be in line for solar panels. Did you know the "greenest" garbage disposal is

Spare me any more newspapers and magazine cover stories. This has gone way overboard. I do realize that polls repeatedly show Americans in hearty agreement across parties in their support for the environment, property rights and personal liberties notwithstanding. Who can resist the pleading expression of a little whiskered seal? A helpless bird with oily feathers? We must protect the earth for them, if not for our children.

The Gallup survey organization, however, seemed shocked last month when it reported that for the first time in the 25 years it's been asking, Americans are now willing to trade off some environmental safeguards in order to jump-start our economy. The implication being that we're in such a financial crisis that we're even willing to sacrifice that-- i.e. our selfish needs to, um, eat and pay the mortgage seem to trump our concern for the desert pupfish.

Well, if business were so concerned with recycling, they wouldn't design computers to only last three years; they wouldn't have given washers an expectancy of merely four. They wouldn't push us to trade in our cellphones every year; they'd use batteries that lasted more than a few hours and ran via any lights like my old, trusty calculator does, and they'd surely have developed cars that devoured kudzu for fuel. I mean it: Kudzu is replenishable and probably burns better than corn ethanol. Heck, forget the dog and run the car on leftovers.

Again, I wouldn't want to harm the earth; to the contrary, I love the healthy, unspoiled outdoors. I revel in the springtime blossoms; I lie in the sun so its rays can seep into my skin and soul. What I don't like, however, is this fakery about the "green" properties of everything from cereal to paper towels. I noticed that the Starbucks cup my husband retrieved from the parkway touted that it was made completely of recycled paper fibers. This was printed, of course, in green ink.

This "green" bandwagon has become too crowded, and it's accelerating at a frightening speed. Let me off! Do you remember when the word "footprint" meant an indentation from a walker's stride?

With all this in mind, tonight I viewed a screening of Disney's new film, Earth. The photography is astounding. The violence of animals seeking dinner was so wrenching I had to cover my eyes. I am always awed by God's majesty and the riddles and lavishness of so many unnecessary species. I was disappointed by the disorganized feel of the film, and most engrossed by the final sequences during the credits suggesting the danger and innovation involved in filming these creatures in their habitats. Our world is worth respecting; its creator worth appreciating, but all this Earth Day hoopla inspires only arrogance that we humans are in control when in fact, we are not.

(BTW, I took the parasailing photo above on Sunday nearby in the Issaquah Alps.)


  1. Dutch cleanser--what the heck is that? Or, should I say, was. It looks like fun. It can come chase my dirt anytime.

    I SOOOOOOOOO agree with you about appliances built to die. Aaaaaarrrrgggghhh!!! And all the salesmen will even tell you so, and lament the good old days when a fridge lasted for many decades.

  2. Oh well, Blogger it didn't like my link to the dutch cleanser. it was fun to search for it, anyhow.

  3. Mink, I added your Dutch Cleanser image to my blog--thanks!

  4. I’m Taking Back the Color Green
    by Betty Perkowski

    I’m taking back the color green
    I'm taking back the word
    The meaning of this adjective
    Is getting quite absurd

    It used to be the color of
    The leaves, the grass, the trees,
    But now they use the word I love
    For everything but these.

    Crazy light bulbs, hybrid cars
    Are being forced upon us
    It used to be the choice was ours
    Now guv’mint makes it for us.

    No pesticides to kill the bugs
    That might infest the peaches
    Be satisfied with smaller crops
    Of blemished fruit, they teach us.

    Can’t drill for oil on barren plains
    We’re bad for what we’ve built
    Congress seems to take great pains
    That we must pay, we must feel guilt

    Carbon offsets, cap and trade
    We’re told that these will save us
    From warming that the sun has made
    These fools are truly dang’rous
    Professor Lindzen* told us all
    That warmth precedes CO2
    Yet teachers, preachers one and all
    Urge us to sign Kyoto.

    The planet takes care of itself
    No matter what we drive
    Just cap and trade these eco-nuts
    And happily we’ll all survive.

    *MIT climate professor with proof that CO2 does NOT cause global warming but may be a by-product of it.

  5. I think that Dutch lady is coming to whip my children and make 'em mind. Do you think her body is permanently tilted at that angle--the deranged martyr-housewife angle?

  6. Thank you for this post! It's good to know there's another Seattlite out there that agrees with me!