Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clothesline in the rainy-time

So, yesterday I said, "today is the day I start using a clothesline." Right now I'm reading The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices by Michael Brower and Warren Leon for REL4936 and it's a way easier read than Confronting Consumption. And where Confronting Consumption was frustrating in that it laid out all of these environmental woes brought on by wanton consumption, it wasn't a citizen action guide, either. The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices is still not a citizen's action get-involved-in-your-community-to-act-globally kind of thing because, as you can see from the title, it directs its message to "consumers", but it is still a great guide. I especially like the calm, measured tone of the book -- having been written by The Union of Concerned Scientists it is not hysterical by any means. And it is actually rather reassuring about the things we do and don't do. If you don't recycle that bottle of tomato sauce because it's too gooey or crusty or whatever, and you throw it away--the message from this book seems to be that it's okay, and the energy you would spend cleaning it with hot water might negate the positives of recycling it in the first place. I guess the main message is "don't sweat the small stuff." For example, here's a list they give of "The Most Harmful Consumer Activities" in order of heinousness (p50):
  • Cars and light trucks
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fruit, vegetables, and grains
  • Home heating, hot water, and air conditioning
  • Household appliances and lighting
  • Home construction
  • Household water and sewage
Looking at the list your first reaction might be like, "but I need my truck, and my family eating less meat is not in the cards." And you know what? That's okay. It's the way we perform these environmentally damaging activities rather than whether or not we do them at all. Going car-free is something few people can do reasonably, as you've seen from some of my posts on my efforts to use our car less. Practically speaking, I could not give up my car even though it is on the top of the list of most harmfull consumer activities. But when it was time to buy a new car, we chose not to get another world-destroying SUV and got our cute little Honda Fit. It's fuel efficient, low emission, and combined with walking and biking we have (in my opinion) reduced our impact considerably from when we still owned the Explorer (or the "exploder" as our mechanic liked to joke -- ha, ha.).
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