Tomorrow, 22 April, is Earth Day. I’m sure you’ve heard about it. If you haven’t, what rock are you living under?
The first Earth Day was celebrated 22 April 1970, before many of my friends – and my kids – were born. The organization that sponsors it claims that day to be the beginnings of the current environmental movement. I’m sure that and all the other ‘help the environment’ organizations have raised awareness of how fragile most all ecosystems are. I think what bothers me most is twofold. First, it’s only one day of the year. Second, part of the mission is to obtain federal and state funding for certain ‘green’ projects.
Here’s where I get on my soapbox. Federal and state governments all over the world are broke. There isn’t any spare money to spend on non-government-essential projects. And besides, if you look historically, any innovative technology or product has come from the private sector, not the government. Neither Daimler nor Ford had government subsidies for their first production-line autos; nor did Edison for his mass-produced light bulb. Bill Gates didn’t have a government subsidy to start Microsoft, nor did Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook. All those organizations lobbying governments should be lobbying investors, instead. If your business plan is sound, investors will invest.
We’re budget-conscious so I’m waiting … I’d love to have solar power at the house – it’s ‘way too expensive and the cost won’t amortize out over our lifetimes. I’d love to have a non-gasoline-powered car. Electric is the only currently-proven technology and then what do you do with the battery when it wears out? (Not to mention that a good proportion of our electricity is produced with fossil fuels.) Electric cars are only practical for city living and I no longer live anywhere near a city. (I’m waiting for hydrogen cars to be perfected.)
Even though we can’t afford the ‘big’ things, we can afford the little things. We recycle nearly everything we use, generating less than one bag of non-recyclable trash a week. I’d love to get it down further but haven’t yet figured out how to do so within our current budget and lifestyle. We compost. We plant trees and nurture those that are already here. I make my own cleaning products with stuff normally found in my kitchen. I try to get all my shopping done on my weekly business trip to Atlanta – and that route is planned out so I make almost all right-hand turns. (Did you know that produces less CO2 emissions? You’re not idling as much, waiting for either a turn arrow or traffic to clear to make a left.) If I forget or run out of something, I get it when I take Mom on her weekly shopping trip. Otherwise, it’ll have to wait. Our cars rarely leave the driveway outside of normal commutes, saving gas (and $) & not putting all that crap into the air.
All this didn’t start when we moved to the country, either. Virtually everything I mentioned above was done when we lived in the city, too. My grandparents taught me about composting. I started recycling everything I could as soon as a place to recycle became available to me – back in the late 70’s. I spent a lot of time outdoors (listening to the plants) and knew every little thing I could do would help.
I’ve done a lot of research into investing in green technology and so far, no one has produced any numbers that convince me my investment will significantly pay off – during my lifetime. Love my kids but I can’t afford to leave them that sort of legacy. But there are those who can afford to invest today for their kids’ and grandkids’ futures. They should (and there are a few like Ed Begley, Jr. who actually do) but those ‘haves’ I know apparently don’t care. They won’t buy an on-demand tankless water heater when the old tank-type one wears out. They don’t recycle, even though recycling pickup is part of the city taxes they pay. It’s frustrating.
There’s absolutely no reason why people need to pay attention to the environment just one day a year. It should be on people’s minds each and every day. BTW, if you are living under a rock, you’re probably living about as green as you can get. Mazel tov!