Sunday, April 27, 2008


I love Earth Day. I really do. There were many wonderful posts about Earth Day, including a full series of important tips, strategies, and new ways to think about your life from Cable Girl of 42. You can go here - reduce waste, here - cleaning green, here - water conservation, and here - home energy conservation and green baby for her guides.

My problem with Earth Day, which is also my problem with things like Black History Month, is that by relegating these things to a specific date or month or whatever, we can kind of feel like, "Yeah, we acknowledged that, now it's time to move on to other things."

But we really can't just move on from the problems our Earth is encountering right now. (Nor can we just relegate Black History to one month, but that's a topic for another day). While it's good to have reminders, like Earth Day, it's enormously important to think about what we can do on a daily basis, and make a commitment by doing it.

If I think about two of our biggest issues on this planet, I would, as an American, go to fossil fuels and food. Yes, we also need wind and solar power, we need to find out why our honey bees are dying off, we absolutely need to think about how we're going to have sustainable water for the future and manufacturing companies need to be reined in.

In terms of fossil fuels, we need a much better public transportation infrastructure in this country. The fact that we have little or no bus or train systems in most of our communities have much to do with how the oil companies and auto industry have held sway for all these years. What those choices have meant, in today's world, can be fodder for many, many other entries.

In terms of food, there are myriad decisions we can make on a daily basis. Betsy of Blogness Monster provided a perfect post (April 16) about why we need to steer away (no pun intended) from our love affair with meat. There's no doubt that meat takes enormous amounts of grain to produce, grain that could be used to feed people. We can't supplant the meat with fish, as we're overfishing our oceans and ruining ocean ecosystems, especially as we over fish high on the food chain.

If we do go vegan, we'd better be doing something about our honey bees, as Bleeding Espresso warns us in her post on this urgent matter.

And, of course, if we don't buy local or grow our own, we're running, big time, into the fossil fuel issue again. In terms of buying local and buying organic and the cost issue, The Farmer's Marketer had some interesting points on that.

The reason I've been ruminating, is that at Chez Jen we've been in a long, and too slow, process of simplifying and trying to lead a greener life. As I've tried to meditate on Earth Day this week, I've thought about where we've already gone and where we still need to go. I'm not going to delineate all that for you here. Really, many blogs have done this already. If you WANT to make changes, there are plenty of resources out there.

I guess, what I am asking you to think about, is what are you doing for change? What can you do for change?

The wonderful thing that I've learned through this whole process is that in making these changes, our lives have become much richer. Truly. And that's not said from a "righteous" feeling. Honestly, there's so much I can still do, I don't feel in the least righteous about my choices - I feel like I'm barely, barely scratching the surface. But as I have made changes in our lives, and as I've watched D and C trying to make their own choices and changes, our world has become quieter.

We have less visual clutter. We have fewer things to manage and more time to manage, instead. Time to geocache, to read, to write, to cook things from scratch. We're out doors more and in front of electronics less. We're eating simpler foods which are tasting better. We're more aware of our local delights because we're trying not to use the car much. We're rediscovering our legs and soon, our bikes.

You can find tons of articles about the fact that a. global warming doesn't exist and none of this matters (I'm not EVEN going to go there), and b. due to China's and India's polluting, what anyone else chooses to do doesn't matter.


It matters because it's a good way to live. It matters because we all need to slow down and have time to enjoy our lives, not the "things" in them. It matters because we need to love our Mother. We go to the polls and vote. This is a vote for our home.

If you do nothing else for your loved ones this week, and you have the time/inclination, do some ruminating on how you can make your life/lives better and better the lives of others. After all, it's rather interconnected, don't you think?

You could be happy you took the time.


Korie said...

You might want to check this blog out if you have the chance. A man and his family have decided to try to change their lives so that they create no net impact on the environment. And they live in NYC. It's a very compelling story to read.

Sister Sassy said...

Good post. I think a lot of us have trouble thinking beyond ourselves and the short term.

I'll check out those blogs.

Did you hear how they are creating meat in a lab? I heard it on NPR but I was at work and didn't get the whole thing. They talked they way it may impact vegetarians.

Jen said...

Lilac, I will definitely read that article - thanks!

Sassy - yes, I heard the story and read an article, too. It's interesting, because it's creating a crisis at PETA right now. About half the upper level staff members have quit. OTOH, I wonder whether we should be eating "manufactured" meat - again, I think going back to simple is best. As I said... ruminating and ruminating. Also, I was fascinated to find Farmer's Marketer's post on the local versus fast food, because it was almost the same day as your post about people not being able to afford the non-processed stuff. Farmer's Marketer is an Ann-Arbor based blogger.

Alex Elliot said...

Great post! I loved how you summed everything up! I have to say that I know people who don't believe in global warming. My point to them was why not use cloth grocery bags anyways because who wants all those plastic bags stored in a closet in your house (they do recycle)? Like you said, there are lots of benefits of simplifying.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

great post Jen.

Fake meat? Come on! I agree with you, keep it simple.

April said...

See, I think this is what Earth Day can/should be about; it's like a scheduled conference for us to exchange ideas and concerns. Hopefully, every year, every household will implement just a little bit more. Great post!

Jen said...

Exactly, Alex - if it helps, why not?

Yes, NYC - for someone living in Italy, that would be the rule, too, right? That's one of the best things about Italian food - simplicity of ingredients and using what's on hand.

Thanks, April. As I said, it's a long process to truly green your life.

Luisa Perkins said...

I couldn't agree more with you about relegating the focus to one day/week/month (which is why I dislike Mother's Day and Valentine's Day).

There are no easy answers, but that doesn't mean we should stop questioning each and every day.

Jen said...

Right, Luisa, I think it's more the idea of being mindful about your choices in life - not just in this area but in all areas. Are you living from your heart, so to speak?

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Great post Jen.

It's easy to feel like whatever we do doesn't matter in the long run, but we can't let those feelings of doubt stop us...makes me think of the Starfish story in which an old man, upon seeing a young child throwing starfish after starfish back into the sea asks what he is doing.

The child responds, "I'm saving the starfish."

The man says, "Why waste your time?... There are so many you can't save them all so what does is matter?"

"It matters to this one," the child responds while throwing another back into the water.

Jen said...

I absolutely love that story, Michelle. It's one of my favorites.

Marianne Arkins said...

Folks ask why I eat almost no meat and I answer because of the moral dilemma. Truth is, I love a nice, juicy slice of roast beef... but I just can't justify eating it.

Despite my own ... erhm... feelings about hunting, I feel better feeding my DH the venison he kills than buying beef at the store that's been inhumanely raised with a corn fed diet, antibiotics and growth hormones.


I'm preaching.

And now I'm shutting up.

:::zips lips:::

anno said...

Thoughtful post, and inspiring, too. I know you're short on reading material (!), so you might want to look at Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life as well.

Jen said...

That's such a good point, Marianne. And I agree with you about venison that's caught for use. Much better that the deer lived a natural life. Betsy's post really got me thinking about vegetarianism again.

I'll try it, Anno. As bizarre as this sounds, Barbara Kingsolver generally leaves me cold. But I haven't tried her in many years.

Anonymous said...

As usual, this is a wonderful post. I'm going to be heading off to read those other links you left ASAP.

I've been working on getting my house to go back to vegetarian. MJ hates eating meat anyway and, well, I'm not exactly a fan. CableDad, as much as he claims he doesn't like meat orders nothing but it when we go out.

And I find it so hard to believe that there are the ignorant few (hopefully few) out there who still don't believe in global warming. Ok, well, I don't believe in elephants, but they're still real.

Victoria said...

Great post Jen. I've been thinking a lot about this stuff lately too, probably because Earth Day just passed. So it served its purpose there. The challenge, of course, is to keep thinking about it and to make changes.

Shan said...

Beautifully written!

Susan @ SGCC said...

Excellent post, Jen. You made some very important points. Too many people use the excuse that one can't make a difference. It's a cop out. When all of the "ones" are counted together, they add up to the power to create change!

La delirante said...

Hi :)

I am afraid that I didn't write anything Earth Day related :( But I enjoyed reading interesting posts about it! :)

I think that in Malta wind power could be a great idea.

Very good post.

Have a lovely week!

Mariposa said...

Ooppsss, I miss this! I miss ALOT lately...but then, I'm glad to say I am environment conscious...I hope people take this concern seriously...

Nice post Jen!

Núria said...

Hey girl! Are you getting presented to the USA elections? I'll vote for you! YOu sound so honest and so willing!!! :D

I totally agree with you. Let's do all we can from our small space in the world :D

Jen said...

CG - maybe we can compare notes on shifting our households. Obviously, I'm having some issues on that front, as well. And then my other question is, if we still have dairy and eggs, are we doing the same good or not? Obviously not AS good, but maybe good enough to shift my guys? And your posts were amazing and inspirational!

Jane, yup, it's a challenge I've been living with every day.

Thanks, Shan!

Jen said...

Sticky - yes, it's much like what Bleeding espresso wrote here - the starfish story is always good to remember.

Wendy, does Malta really NOT have windpower? It seems to me that it's such a given around much of Europe. Yes, we could all use windpower!

Mariposa - no worries - I know you're going through a lot through work, etc.!

Thanks, Nuria! ;-) Really, though, this one is just common sense, I think.

Wholly Burble said...

I'm in agreement, you need to keep working on these things throughout the year--but it is probably good that we actually take a day and pull all these ideas out to share--otherwise life can just swamp us and the subject never come up.

I'm adding things in increments to my life--otherwise I wouldn't get myself into these new habits, and I wouldn't be able to get my fellows to come along with me. I got a kick out of the clerks at the stores who were selling the cloth bags--by the next week when you returned with the cloth, they made such faces that they had to "deal with" the bags instead of their easy plastic bags already on their turn-style packing areas LOL. Ah well, they'll get used to it, and I'm tickled to see how many others are now sporting their own reuseable bags when they enter the store! Every little thing helps.

Jen said...

Every little thing does, WB. I haven't run into any difficulty in terms of my own bagging or professional baggers with my odd assortment of bags. It seems to work.

Liz Dwyer said...

Amen! It can't just be one day and then poof, back to all the environmentally unfriendly things we do if we're left to our own devices.

There's so many changes we need to retrain ourselves in, and I think the pollution drama in China is probably making them think about these same issues.

Leslie said...

Great post, Jen!

We've been working at our house to simplify. I'm a little embarrassed to admit, however, that it has largely been influenced by finances rather than morals. Gas prices are so high, food prices are getting higher...we've been simplifying out of necessity.

Makes me wish I'd cared more, sooner.