Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Last week I wrote a column on getting used to the new local mandate that garbage bags must be clear, or they will not be collected. The rule, which has stirred up plenty of controversy and resentment, has been put in place to ensure that people aren't throwing recyclables in the trash.
In my column I poked fun at myself for being so set in my garbage bag ways that I resented having to eliminate kitchen catcher bags from the equation and just toss everything in one large clear bag. I talked about how quickly I will undoubtedly get used to the change and how if we were all a little more willing to let go of some of our habits, such as the use of disposable plastic water bottles, to form new ones, we could have a huge environmental impact, a positive one for once.
This week, the negative response, arguing that the blame for excess trash should be put on manufacturers, and that we poor little citizens should bear no responsibility, being printed in our paper comes from none other than my editor. She also argues against the fact that we have to pay for garbage tags, and the fact that we have to sort our recycling.
I don't fit in here.
But then, I'm used to it.
Growing up I was one of two kids who brought their lunch to school in reusable containers and depending on the meal, a cloth napkin, and stainless steel cutlery. I'm not sure what elementary school is like now in that regard but at the time it was so unusual that I received an environmental award.
We were hardly a radical environmentalist family. We lived on the grid and played with plastic toys. But compared to my peers, it seemed I was always having to sacrifice more for the sake of the environment.
I remember whining to my mom that it wasn't fair when she refused to use the car to take us places we could walk or ride our bikes. "Why does it always have to be us? Why can't someone else ride their bike so that we can have a turn doing what's easy?" I asked. "Why can't I bring plastic packed lunchables and fruit snacks to school and let some other kid try to remember to bring home her damn tupperware in her backpack?"
I get it now. For too long people have been leaving custody of our planet and our resources up to someone else. We just choose not to think about it, so we don't have to take responsibility. We've taken the easy and shortsighted route almost every time we were offered a choice.
You don't have to look far to see the impact of our refusal to think beyond ourselves. Don't believe in Global Warming? Here's something you can see with your own two eyes.
It's easy enough being green. It's not so easy being the pain in the ass who brings up issues that no one wants to think about and even has the audacity to suggest that we all have a responsibility to deal with them.
For my part, this week I'll be continuing my one-woman crusade to get the local post office to quit throwing thousands of flyers a week into the trash instead of recycling them.
It's not easy when you don't fit in. But, depending on your surroundings, sometimes it's kind of awesome when you stand out.
This is my entry for the March Blog Carnival over at 20-something bloggers!