Thursday, April 23, 2009

Three R's for the New Millennium

As I walked to the subway this afternoon, I passed a couple dudes who obviously thought they were pretty cool. When they got out of their spic and span fancy-ass vehicle, they finished off some juice and threw the plastic bottles on the ground.

And then they laughed.

They were littering and laughing because HA HA HA killing the planet is SO TOTALLY AWESOME!

My blood boiled and I caught one guy’s gaze. I caught it and held it and looked at those bottles on the ground and he did NOTHING. So I—because I’m a crazy cat-lady-lesbian-feminist-environmentalist who does this sort of thing—called to him, “Hey, pick that up!”

He didn’t, of course. That guy is way too cool to recycle. That guy is only interested in destroying every beautiful gift this planet has to offer. Well, this is no joke to me. His devastating apathy spits in the face of every effort you and I are making to heal our mother earth. And she’s in bad shape, my friends.

Environmentalism and creativity go hand in hand. We have major problems on this planet, and they’re problems we have made for ourselves. Improving the health of our planet demands creative solutions, and not just from scientists and government regulators—from everybody.

It’s time to educate ourselves in the Three R’s of the New Millennium:



The key is to know what’s what. Different items are recyclable in different regions. One constant is the amount of confusion we all have about what goes in the blue bin and what doesn’t.

Find out!

Most of this info is available online and it’s worth the minimal effort required. Throwing non-recyclables in the blue bin puts a strain on resources (because all that stuff needs to be separated out and disposed of), whereas throwing recyclables in the trash means those items can’t be reused.

Remember why recylcing is important: when you’re finished with an item, it is transformed into something else. Your orange juice container becomes tissue. Your plastic bottles become rugs, polar fleece, and park benches. Your glass bottles become roads, tiles, and surfboards. Your cardboard boxes become…different cardboard boxes.


It saddens me when I visit my mother’s house and open her fridge full off rotting, expired foods. When I was growing up, this never would have happened. We watched our pennies and purchased only what food we could afford. Now that my mother has the money to buy more, she does…she buys more than she needs.

One of the huge problems with abundant societies is the truly excessive waste they generate. There is more than enough food on earth to keep everybody’s bellies full; it’s the DISTRIBUTION of food that trips us up. We in North America consume far more than we need, and we are stealing from the mouths of poorer nations.

From an environmental perspective, our gluttony means disaster for landfills. We buy super-sized packages of food products and most of it ends up in the trash. Reducing demand—for food, fuel, power, and STUFF—will make our mother earth smile.


When I was a child, it was like Christmas morning every time a neighbour or aunt came to our house with a great big garbage bag full of clothes. In my family, we didn’t care that these clothes were hand-me-downs. It was so exciting to get new things!

My sisters and I have carried this feeling of wonder into adulthood. We still swap clothes. In these times of economic concern, it’s cool to be a frugal fashionista. And if your old clothes are from the “what was I thinking?” era, at least give them to Goodwill. I know more than a few costume designers who would LOVE your god-awful duds.

Reusing is where creativity comes into play. Pretty much everything has multiple uses. My mother saved everything from egg cartons to popsicle sticks and thought up crafts we kids could use them for. If you’re artistically challenged, there are lots of kids crafts books at the library and tons of info on the web.

This is all about keeping stuff out of landfills. Consider large items, as well. Furniture items can go to second-hand shops. Free electronic waste recycling events are few and far between, but it’s well worth seeking them out when you consider how many old computers, TV’s and antiquated electronics end up in landfills. Here’s an example of a California service: If you can’t find one in your area, ask your local politician or business complex to organize a free e-waste recycling event.

Some of us try so hard. We want to make a difference on this planet. We want our children and grandchildren to be able to swim in rivers and lakes. We don’t want them to be affected by the massive health concerns pollution causes.

Right now, we’re on a downward spiral and the only way to turn this planet around is to lead by example. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” as Gandhi said. Because it doesn’t work to simply stare down the dudes throwing their garbage on the pavement and tell them they’re assholes. Trust me; I’ve tried that.

We're all in this together, friends.
Love and Hugs,

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