It's not about the house.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Gee, Thanks, Mean Joe!

Since our fuel bills for the season have now topped $2700 (that's right, we had another delivery since I last added up because it just refuses to be spring around here, ever, anymore), I figured Time magazine's “Global Warming Survival Guide” might be worth a look. I'd heard about it on the radio, it was supposed to be all about how to live more greenly. I’m not a particularly green-type person, generally, but I thought they might have some money- (oops, I mean planet-) saving tips for me.

I didn’t buy the magazine (see? I’m thinking greener and saving cash already) but I checked it out on line. And let me say, if you are ever putting a 51-point list up on the internet, by all means give each and every point a separate page. People like to click-and-wait, and who needs to see the whole thing in one shebang anyway? I guess they figured since they weren’t wasting paper they might's well go ahead and waste my time…

The items on the list break down into some basic categories. Time didn’t break them down – because then you might miss out on clicking through a dozen items that don’t interest you – but I will.

Of the 51 items on the list, six of them have to do with either building a completely new house or moving to an existing one that’s more efficient – even if that means moving to London. Right. London. Sure. Number six says, simply, “Ditch the Mansion.” Done. Got a not-so-mansion I wouldn’t mind unloading, either, if anybody out there’s interested.

Fifteen are so obvious I used to read about some of them in coloring books. Turn the lights off, ride the bus, don’t use the air conditioner (and, if you’re uncomfortable, remove your jacket. Oh, is that how that works?), recycle (duh!), carpool (double duh!). Number 48’s my favorite in this category: When you’re renting, rent a hybrid. Well, fine, except the article itself says that there are only seven cities in the world where you can do that. So I guess you’re supposed to rent your hybrid in New York and then drive it all the way to Sandusky, Ohio?

Five more are about getting governments to change the laws – from municipal to international levels. Number 27 has to do with international flight restrictions, and I can’t help but smart-ass this part: “Until we can travel by fireplace, Harry Potter-style, the only way to get from Los Angeles to London is by carbon-spewing jet airliner.” Well, no, actually. The only way to get there in one day is by carbon-spewing jet airliner. There are still such things as boats and trains, and cars and bikes and feet for that matter. And swimming, lots and lots of swimming...

Three are about carbon credit trading: international, intra-national and individual. Then there’s #42, “Pay for your carbon sins.” Basically you do whatever you want but give money to some institution so you don’t have to feel so bad about it. I think they used to do this all the time. I think they're called indulgences.

Four of them I just don’t understand, including this one: “19. Buy green power, at home or away.” It’s just too confusing to even think about. When I can’t get the local gas company to so much as return a phone call, am I really going to buy my electricity from some corporation out of state just because they swear there’s daisies in it?

Number twenty-five says support your local farmer, but then 46 says trees are actually bad (who knew?), except in the tropics. So do I buy my tomatoes down the street and my pears from Guatemala? How tall does a plant have to be to make it an official big bad tree? And if I’m really greening-up here, should I cut down all those silver maples in the yard?

Twenty-eight suggests you green your wedding. We eloped. Green enough for you? Today’s our anniversary, actually. Well, not really, but we’ve decided to celebrate on every Friday the 13th because we figure that when you accidentally choose such an inauspicious wedding day, you gotta cram in all the celebrations that you can before the luck runs out.

Some are impossible – don’t eat beef (tell it to my Irish husband), plant a bamboo fence (I live in Massachusetts), the whole corn/fuel thing (been there, done that) – and some are just plain stupid (#45. Only make right turns. Yeah I don’t think so. At the very least I’ve got to make that crucial left at Albuquerque…). And #31 just has to be a joke. Lipstick that grows flowers if you plant the empty tube? Gimme a break. How much does that cost? Some are so off-the-charts wack-a-doodle they could be Jerry Bruckheimer productions (mirrors in the atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays off the earth? Fine, but who'll we send up to install them, Bruce Willis or Ben Affleck?). And the final idea, #51, just slam-dunks the stupid-cake: “Meditate. Consume less. Think more. Get to know your neighbors. Borrow when you need to and lend when asked.” Uh… okay? Or, um, rather…no? What I mean to say is … Huh?.

Only six, as far as I’m concerned, are actually helpful, possible, day-to-day regular suggestions – and most of these boil down to basic common sense. Wear used clothes (check), work closer to home (if you can. I’m workin’ on it. If all goes well, I’ll never have to leave the house), recycle fleece clothing (I didn't know you could. I don’t, in fact, own any fleece clothing because it is flat-out hideola, but if anyone else want me to recycle theirs, I’ll do it happily), use natural fertilizer instead of chemicals (we compost). And one thing I’ve never done but will is #16: Pay your bills online. Save all that paper, easy-peasy. Doesn’t save me any money, but I guess that’s not supposed to be the point here, is it?

Oh, and last but not least…

#30. Shut off your computer.



dstaf said...

Hey!I just saw that cardboard seed containing lipstick advertised in Real Simple magazine. I thought it was pretty cool. However... I was reading about it as I was flying in a carbon spewing jet airliner, so I've probably already blackened any green-ness I would have gained by buying a tube of the stuff...Darn

Courtney R. said...

Have you seen that thing going around the internet where you ask Google Maps for directions from New York to Dublin? One of the steps is "Swim 2600 miles" or thereabouts. Love. It.