Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's Easy Living Green ... When Everyone Else Is Too

From the bean of Green Bean.

I just returned from visiting one of the most gorgeous places on earth. I hiked, photographed wildlife, kayaked, and breathed in fresh air. I did not compost. I brought home groceries bagged in plastic. I rode in a giant SUV.

Despite the beauty, my recent vacation left me with one big takeaway. Living green is really easy - if you are surrounded by others doing the same thing. If not, it is downright hard!

Home in Northern California, it feels like a third of the cars on the road are hybrids (the real kind that get kick ass mileage) or electric vehicles. During my vacation, I spotted one Prius (out of state license plate) and zero EVs.

At home, even if I forget my canvas bags, it does not matter. We have a plastic bag ban and the cashier won't have my bread double bagged in plastic before I can whip out my handy Chico bag. When visiting, or living somewhere without such a law, you are swimming against the tide if you try to avoid single use plastic bags. If recycling facilities are not readily available, you can still recycle but only after hauling your recyclables around and searching out an appropriate drop off. When surrounded by SUVs, one might feel uncomfortable in an itty bitty hybrid. None of these things are impossible, by any means, but they do require much more effort.

Living in a bubble, I assume that the rest of the world is also embracing EVs, with charging stations popping up every time you turn the corner. That solar panels pepper roofs and thirsty rain barrels suck from the downspouts. That customers line up at stores armed with reusable bags and sip from glass water bottles. A turn outside of my microcosm, though, brings home how much progress has, and has not, been made.

A recent study found that states with strong green voices are making much more progress reducing emissions than those states without.  While I am proud of the progress my state is making - and am hopeful that more will be made - how do we extend this progress to states with fewer environmental advocates? How do we amplify their brave voices and encourage quicker change?  How do we make it easier for greenies living in less green states?

And finally, hats off to all you environmentalists sticking to your values even while you are sticking out like a sore thumb!!


Betsy Escandon said...

I feel this when I go on vacation too. You are constantly deciding how much you want to stick out, how inconvenient you want to make things for yourself. But, as always, if nothing else, a quiet example makes a difference. Hats off to all those swimming upstream!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Your home state sounds amazing! I honestly can't even imagine living in such a paradise! I live, should we say, in a completely DIFFERENT kind of place. I live in a very rural area of Missouri. The farmers love their GMO seed, pesticides and herbicides. It's nearly impossible to get my cloth grocery bags out fast enough - before the cashier has each item bagged in it's own plastic bag, double bagged to boot! Riding a bike in our little town might get you run over. Full size SUV's and pickup trucks are the norm. They recently tried to pass a plastic bag ban in a nearby college town and everyone had a hissy. In fact, a Missouri bill (state) was introduced making it impossible for cities to ban or tax plastic grocery bags (luckily it hasn't passed yet). Our town still allows smoking in it's restaurants. A person I consider a very good friend just yesterday BOASTED about spraying her cherry and plum trees with liquid Roundup - because those dang Asian Beetles are destroying everything. She had many, many commenters - others who loved her idea and who were heading out to Walmart to buy some of this easy fix. These aren't bad people. They are people who are, in fact, very good hearted. They would do anything for you - even giving you the shirt off their backs. They are just so terribly brainwashed that all of this is acceptable and that our planet will keep sustaining such abuse. Sickening! That is what it is. I'm not sure what will ever change this mindset. But, I will keep on buying local when I can from as many growers as I can find who are organic. I will keep baking my own bread, carrying my own, recycled t-shirts made into grocery bags to the store, canning my own food, and hanging my clothes on the clothesline. Proud to be SWIMMING UPSTREAM!

Anonymous said...

Sorry- about my long rant above. Oh, CORRECTION. My friend boasted about using liquid SEVIN - (not Roundup). Needed to correct that. Thank you for listening to me.

Betsy Escandon said...

I feel pain just reading your comment, Anonymous. You have plenty of virtual sympathizers here who will always be ready to cheery you on. Hope you have a few sympathizers in real life too. It can be a lonely road...

Green Bean said...

@Anonymous - Like Betsy, I feel your pain. At least the Internet allows folks swimming upstream to have virtual cheerleaders. You rock and hopefully inspire some small actions in others around you. Kudos to you for swimming upstream!!


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