Today is garbage day, and for the first time in my life I’ve filled my curbside recycling bin. I’ve been relaxed about recycling, and really about everything that has to do with planet earth. I don’t really have a good excuse for it, other than the fact that I was really busy spraying my hair with aerosol hairspray and turning on all the lights in my house before leaving in my SUV to drive down the street to buy processed food from China in heavy plastic packaging.
I’ve had a change of heart. Last week Blockbuster Online delivered An Inconvenient Truth and we popped it in late Friday night. Now, maybe it’s just because I was about to start my period, but I was very moved by this film. And not only was I moved, I was also thoroughly informed, embarassingly horrified, and sincerely motivated to make some changes. Ryan felt the same way I did, which encouraged me to believe that my reaction wasn’t related to my menstrual cycle at all. After all, Ryan’s period doesn’t start for two more weeks.
You see, I have a rule. As soon as I feel like someone is trying to use guilt or fear to motivate me, I shut my ears off. When I have made decisions in my past based on guilt or fear, I’m never happy with the result. For me, I like to hear the facts and then take time to think things over for myself.
I avoided this movie on the very suspicion that it would be chock full of over-the-top propaganda. But it wasn’t. It was chock full of scientific data, and the scientific conclusion is this: We’re a nation of Paris Hiltons; spoiled rotten consumers. We’re the worst offenders on the planet doing the least to help the situation. We flagrantly exploit the earth, giving little thought about the long-term consequences. [Don't worry, even though I just typed that last sentence I'm not going to stop shaving my legs or using toilet paper.]
I think the thing I liked best about the documentary, though, was the information at the very conclusion about what we can do to make a big difference. You can find a list of ten easy things here. When I looked over the list I thought, “What? This is it? I don’t have to handcuff myself to trees? I don’t have to weave my clothes out of dandelions? I don’t have to walk around in Birkenstocks?” I was thrilled to find out that using different lightbulbs, buying locally-grown food, line-drying my clothes in the warm months, and recycling my every day garbage are small changes (I can’t even call them sacrifices) that add up over time.
If you have already made earth-conscious changes in your life (and I’m guessing that most of you have since I’m usually the last person to wake up), please tell me—what do you do? I’d love some more suggestions to include on the banner I’m weaving out of dandelions.