Say what?? Most of us in the U.S. are pretty sick up and fed with election crap, and we’re really ready to move on with life. Doesn’t matter which side you’re on; there is sure to be much more activism and mudslinging pretty much forever; or so it seems. Lately, political rhetoric has reared its ugly nostrils and is sniffing in the deliciously annoying media compost bins. And although this election saw one of the highest turnouts on record, some who complained the loudest decided not to vote at all(sigh)! No excuse for that if you ask me…
As my good friend (not) Mr. Nixon would have said, “let me say this about that.” While voting at the polls is a vital responsibility for those who wish to live in a democracy, there is also a type of voting all of us should really embrace as a way of life. We need to determine what kind of planet we want to live on, and more importantly, what kind of planet we want for our kids. So, we all need to rock the vote. Again and again. Not just with ballots, but with each dollar we spend; and every action we take. Now, I can’t tell anyone what to do, but here are just a few examples of how I “vote” and why:
Chemical Pesticides, Fertilizers: I do not buy them. Ever. Why? Foist of awl, pesticides are poison. Pretty good reason not to buy them, right? Unfortunately, most pesticides often kill beneficial creatures like wasps and spiders; not to mention the harmful effect they have on humans and other animals (hey!! I told you not to mention that!!). Food crops can be grown with companion planting to minimize pest damage; and there are many other Nature-friendly ways of keeping plants safe from pests.
Fertilizers offered by Mother Nature are available in most places where plants grow naturally. Composted leaves, grass clippings, and manure are good examples of soil building materials, and are natural fertilizers. Because I grow a fairly good sized garden, there are times when hook up my trailer and jump in my automobile to retrieve these things. Usually all I need is available free at our local landfill transfer station (fondly known to us as “the dump”). However, if I were to go to a store to buy even organic stuff, much more energy is consumed mining, processing, packaging, and shipping fertilizers and pesticides. A lot of dinosaur juice (petroleum) is used to support this industry in the form of fuel for energy, and petrochemicals for processing. And let’s not forget how they are packaged, either in paper bags (bye bye trees) or plastic bags (petroleum again!). And even more wonderfully, the factories that manufacture these goodies pollute, and when it rains their products also pollute. And don’t even get me started on “weed and feed.” Our lawn gets mowed, that’s it. The neighbors probably cry when my dandelions are in bloom. We think they are pretty, and the bees love them.
We get some pretty awesome veggies that we grow organically. We do not spray any crops to keep the bugs off, but rather we use crop rotation and companion planting to keep insect damage to a minimum. I’ve heard some folks say, “without fertilizers and pesticides you would not have all that wonderful produce you see at Meijer.” Well that is simply a crock of moose juice. Anybody notice the proliferation of certified organic produce at the supermarket?? Huh?? Guess what? Those growers are doing pretty well these days.
Packaged Meals: First of all, blech!! We prefer fresh food and home cooking, thank you very much. Package meals are intended to be convenient, of course, but holy MOLY the ingredients are poisonous awreddy!! Sodium, ingredients I can’t pronounce, sugars, sodium, and also more sodium. What I’m saying here is that packaged meals are chock-full of chemicals, and many of these are known to damage our bodies. Of course, all these nasties are made by chemical plants. Chemical plants consume energy and pollute. More petroleum. Oh, and not to forget the packaging: plastics and paper. More dead trees, more dinosaur juice.
Automobiles: One of my all time favorite hot rods was a Toyota Corolla. I got 35 miles to a gallon, sometimes more. When our son’s car died, I passed it along to him; albeit with a “serious defect”: the odometer won’t go any farther than 299,999 miles. It’s a known defect and the only way to change it is to buy a new instrument cluster. The stupid thing is 17 years old and still runs like brand new!! My lovely wife has a 15 year old Toyota Matrix, which will also get over 30 mpg. Although we’d love to have electric or at least hybrid cars, we at least can drive vehicles that don’t burn so much dinosaur juice. Our planet has a finite supply of oil, and cars are just a small part of the consumption of it. So although I don’t have the bucks for an electric or hybrid car (yet) I do like the fact that the cars we own have a track record of lasting up to 20 years. Call me a “tree hugger,” or whatever other radical environmentalist label you like; but Hummers and Escalades and the like should be illegal (in my professional opinion).
Electricity: “Turn the lights off!! Whaddya think, we own the Edison?? That’s what your Grandma and Grandpa would say ya know.” My beautiful wife would shout this at the kids to remind them that power costs money. She used “the Edison” to refer to the power company because when she was a kid growing up near Detroit, that was the name of the outfit that ruled the electrons. So she echoed her mom and dad when yelling at our kids. We must have raised them right, they both confess to be habitual light switcher-offers (technical talk). Here again, electricity generation relies a lot on fuel, whether it’s coal or natural gas or whatever. There is more and more alternative energy available these days but the percentage is meager compared to the output of fuel burning plants. More demand equals greater dependency on petroleum, either directly (burning to generate power) or indirectly (shipping coal). During the Arab Oil Embargo in the seventies, Mr. Nixon (holy cow, I mentioned him again) urged everyone to conserve. Businesses were urged to turn off all lighting except that required for security or safety reasons when they closed up shop for the night. Drive past any shopping mall and see if this is the case these days. I think just a couple thousand people are leaving the lights on!!
Reuse, Recycle: Reusing objects is pretty much the norm at our house. Cloth grocery bags have really been a nice way to keep all those plastic bags out of the house. Of course, we do buy disposable things like food storage bags (for example); but we wash and reuse them regularly. There is a limit to this, of course, but plastic freezer bags can be washed and reused several times before they go into the trash. We also we also do weird things like reuse plastic half gallon ice cream containers from Country Dairy. When I make too much soup, I scoop it into the ice cream bucket, put a small hunk of tape on the lid, label it and date it, and into the freezer it goes. Glass jars make very nice containers for dry beans, corn meal, popcorn, and the like. We have very little trash left over after composting our veggie waste and recycling the plastics, cans, and glass.
Think Globally, Act (buy) Locally: “Everything’s made in (expletive deleted) China!!” That’s the refrain my lovely girlfriend and I chant when we go shopping. Never thought I’d actually say it, but I do my best to buy goods that were made locally or at least as close to home as possible. And yes, I do find myself looking for the “Made in USA” label. Of course, we buy things that are made abroad, but having some awareness is vital. Keeping the dollars at home will help our communities thrive.
Well, I could go on and on, and this could become a very very long Happy Friday. Suffice it to say that I would love to see more people join a movement of “Let Every Dollar I Spend Send A Message.” And yes, I’m sure there’s much more that I could do… I sometimes spend my money on crap just like anybody else.
Of course, I’m not so naive to think that voting with dollars is the answer. Rather, it’s the tip of a very large iceberg. Decisions we humans make have deep and lasting effects on our Mother Earth and all the Citizens of Nature (that includes all of US). Every action we take, every word we speak, really, really matters. There IS positive change in the works, but it is woefully under-reported by the media.
My friends, we need to stand up for what’s right, but learn to disagree without being disagreeable. We can do this. Together. With Love!!
It’s not a new concept…