Are You Earth Conscious Or Just Plain Broke?
Note: The photo above is a sign my landlord placed in the foyer of my last apartment building. It just never gets old!
We should obviously all be doing whatever we can to keep this beautiful planet safe and clean for as long as possible. I love this earth; I enjoy camping and going to the beach more than almost any other activity, was a Girl Scout as kid, and am a proponent of larger changes in energy consumption across the board. But I have to admit that it irritates me when I’m told to be earth conscious. Why? Because when I go green it’s to save green. I do earth-friendly stuff because I’m poor and cheap, not because I care about the environment. This is the case for so many of us (including my old landlord), but instead we like to proudly pat ourselves on the back for doing our part as if we have a choice BUT to reduce, re-use and recycle. This morning I read some articles about Earth Day filled with tips on how to go green and discovered that my broke self cannot afford to trash the planet anyway. They included:
Lower Your Thermostat: My gas bill is not a game. I owe PGW the Gross National Product of a small South Pacific nation, so my thermostat stays on the sub-tropical setting where it belongs. Folks coming over to my crib this winter expected to sit in my living room rubbing their hands together like bums over an oil drum fire and rub they did.
Buy Local Produce, Hormone-free Milk, and Eat Less Meat: I don’t drink milk or eat much meat, and dude, it’s not like I can afford kiwifruit imported from Fiji or whatever. I’m straight on the random Jersey fruit that’s barely ripe because it costs half as much as the fly jet-setter produce. And the East Coast is not exactly a Mecca for ripe produce in the winter so I have had my share of cold, hard tomatoes.
Don’t Buy Bottled Water: The math has been easy for me since I started living alone. Brita pitcher = $10.00/month, bottle water=$10/week.
Walk or Bike to Work: Well, since I’m unemployed at the moment I suppose I get a pass, but I walk everywhere I can and it’s not to save our natural resources, it’s to save money. In fact my car has been parked down the street for the last 5 days and it will stay right there until I can justify the need to drive anywhere worth putting gas in that monster to get there.
Sign Up for Green Energy: I actually took the initiative and called my energy company (PECO) about this. I’d read in the news that they have all sorts of different green technologies and plans in the works. No one I spoke with wanted to talk to me about anything but my past due bill, and even then with a bad attitude and after putting me on hold for a total of ten minutes. The irony in the phone battery electricity that was wasted as I sat on hold was not lost on me.
Turn off Lights and Appliances While Not in Use: I try to keep my electricity bill low but I do leave my computer on most nights. How else am I supposed to download movies, music, and software from inconspicuous sources with low bandwidth unless I do it over a span of eight hours? I’m too broke to pay in-store sticker prices on any of these said items!
Reduce, Re-use, Recycle: This has always been a funny saying to me because I have no choice in the matter and was raised to use stuff sensibly. For example, although I have a re-usable grocery bag it kind of cracks me up when people make a big stink about plastic grocery bags as though throwing them out after one use is an option. You know good and well that if Mama taught you right you have your own system for storing and hoarding plastic bags to use later to carry your lunch in, as liners for a trash can, as emergency shower caps, or almost anything else one can think of. I was an adult before I realized that trash bags came in that small 3-gallon size intended for the bathroom bin and I still don’t understand how people get rich enough to actually buy those instead of stockpiling the ones from the store like po’ folk have been doing for years.
So now that all of that is taken care of, if someone wants to buy me a tree I have no problem planting it. Just let a sister know.