Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Not Green, Just Common Sense

To live is to collect, and we're well-armed with junk.
Meanwhile the jungle is spreading east from Central Park.
We're using too much electricity,
And that, no doubt, is why it's growing dark.

-George Faludy

The above was written in 1957, half a century ago. It was written in an age when the cry of the environmentalist was but a weak voice in a flurry of consumerism. It was not the topical thing, nor the popular thing to discuss being kind to the environment.
To be perfectly honest the lifestyle my Spouse and I are trying to live by is not centered around being environmentally 'green' at all; sometimes it simply works out that way and we can be even more encouraged that we are doing the right thing.
No, most of what we do is for personal moral reasons.
When I do a laundry, I make sure there are enough items in the washing machine to constitute a justified washing. I would not dream of throwing in one pair of socks and a T-shirt and turning on the machine. True, it is because I try hard to save money but more than that, it is because that sort of consumption is not necessary at all. Putting the the environment aside for a moment, if I may, it seems hideous to me to continuously run a tap while brushing teeth or washing up.
My point is that it should be a normal human instinct not to waste things. We need not know anything about the Ozone layer or the Polar ice caps melting to know that we should use what we need, and not a scintilla more.
Along with using just what we need, we also, as a matter of course, ought to be able to bring those needs and wants to a respectable level. I am loath to bandy about the word 'obnoxious' when the I hear the phrase 'consumerism' but we all have our pet hates and I thoroughly dislike the notion of buying or grabbing things just because you can.
I recall a recent article about a family that regularly attended an all-you-can-eat buffet. As I have admitted oft before, books and buffet are two words that I am still working on battling when it comes to my own desires. The family in question were familiar with the restaurant and with the policy of taking everything you can eat. Perhaps they were a little too familiar. The staff at this restaurant watched helplessly for week after week as this family would enter, take enormous plates of food and, according to what I read, would take one or two bites before giving up the plate and going back for more, often for the very same item of food they just abandoned. Perhaps the food had grown cold or something. Their own reasons were not made clear. I'm all for trying foods at buffets and giving up if I do not like something, but I would generally take a little bit at first, just to find out if I like it. Then, I go back for more. (And more. And more. But I digress. I do love a good buffet.) After some time, the owner could not take it anymore and personally removed them from the restaurant. They were banned for life. It is likely that at the end of the buffet time, uneaten food would be discarded anyway. This is being used as the argument to defend this family. It is the policy of most restaurants and it's probably the easiest option for them money wise or I am sure they wouldn't do that. However, that is not the issue.
It is up to each and every one of us to take what we need, waste as little of anything as possible, save a little money if we can, and hope that what we did was the right thing. That is all that matters. I am not insinuating we should not be concerned with other people wasting resources but we should do our own work first and perfect our own kind way of living.
Water, for example, is a precious commodity. Should I for any imaginative reason be given gallons of the stuff and told to waste it as I pleased, I am sure I couldn't bring myself to hurl it all about the place for jest. I do not believe I could physically do it, even if I were told that the water would be thrown away regardless at the end of the exercise. I could only live by my own principles. That is all I can do, while learning.
And for me, as I always say, it is indeed a learning process. It is only in recent times that I started washing up with cold water. My Spouse pointed it out to me and I defiantly announced that one needed to wash up with hot or nothing would get clean. I do like a challenge, so I opted for Spouse's method, ready to gloat at the first opportunity when the pots were still rimmed with grease. It was not to be. I was thunderstruck to find that it had no adverse affect on the plates and pots and pans. And all this time, I had insisted I could not do it any other way. We are waiting on the electricity bill that will expose the difference but I think I already know the answer.

Cold(er) showers are much harder to adjust to than washing up (unless one anthropomorphises kitchen ware.) Like anything else, we learn to make do with what we have. It isn't about money but the knowledge that I d not NEED a scalding hot burst of water for twenty minutes each day. Which brings me to the last point about showers: colder showers are, by their unlovable nature, shorter showers and I find myself spending my 'extra' moments working on other things.

I referred to our wedding in my previous post as as a 'Green Wedding,' but I assure you truthfully that not one of us was considering its effects on the environment when those extra sandwiches were handed out to pub-goers outside the wedding party. We had the wedding we needed, and spent nothing more. Giving that food away was the kind thing to do. We hurt nothing in the wake of our wedding.

It is a matter of human instinct and common sense to want to save things instead of wasting. At least, it should be.

No comments:

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.