Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Those poor misguided hippies

You know what bothers me lately? Its with all the hype with going 'green' and with people trying to attach this idea to whatever business or cause they are trying to sell to consumers. The problem lies also with the consumer because we have this tendency to become lemmings and blindly buy into it without really thinking about it.

The pitch is this, by going 'green', we help conserve resources and the environment, we help prevent global warming, we feel good about ourselves, we reduce our carbon footprint and we get to feel more superior than everyone else because we are doing our part so why shouldn't you?

I think that a lot of people don't have a clue what's happening and what they're basically contradicting themselves when they go 'green'. Here's what I think, if you want to start going green, you start changing your very lifestyle. I'm not saying just because you start separating your trash and have a recycling habit you're already there, because basically you aren't, not the very least bit of it. You want to see a real recycling effort? You look start by looking at the less fortunate people who rummage through municipal trash cans each and every day picking up aluminum cans, or the old man who collects cardboard boxes and straps them to his rickety old bicycle - these are the real recycling heroes that do this everyday and not because they are going 'green', its because that's how they survive. You want to help society, you take all your stuff you collect, and you give it to them.

Look at it this way, we tend to ignore things we don't see. We don't see where our garbage goes to after we ditch it out the door, but the reality of our situation is this, that there are all these less fortunate people who rummage through our garbage each and every day simply because they make money selling stuff we ditch back to recycling centres. What we can do is to separate it and clearly label them to save them the trouble, not send them to centres that take that income away from people who need the extra money, or worse if it was their livelihood.

Everyday I meet and read more and more about these misguided hippies who think that they do more by altering their lifestyle. By eating organic, by using recycled goods, by being an environmentalist, but the more they feel they're doing the right thing, the less they are doing to help. Sure, planting a few million trees can offset your carbon footprint, but really, think about where these couple million trees are being planted? Back in the forest reserve! So who's carbon footprint does that really offset because they sure as hell aren't living near the forest reserve. In fact if you really take some time and read up on global carbon dioxide levels, you'll find that science journals that print these graphs that these environmentalists base their entire argument on are usually dishonest and misleading, as most graphs are, because it comes down to how the data is plotted along the axis, plot it differently, and the graph will look like there is a sudden surge in CO2 levels, alarm the masses, and sound the bells for global warming! But look closer and you'll realize that global CO2 levels have only increased 23.7% since 1900, and I can tell you now that's a really long time ago.

Talking about lifestyle choices and carbon footprint, the irregularities start to appear when you look into it. These people hold 'green' events in their homes where they don't even bother to plant trees in, they constantly discourage the use of plastic bags that can be reused for actual garbage(think biodegradable plastics), have a voracious appetite for the property market as investment purposes that fuels the supply and thus encourages more construction work that increases noise, air and sound pollution, renovate their homes with MDF or plantation furniture that does not last(imagine if every year you discard a piece of furniture, the amount of space you would accumulate in the garbage disposal each and every time you do it) versus getting something that will last at least 100years made out of solid timbers, carpooling to work because it is the 'eco' thing to do but then after that doing unnecessary traveling to spas, clubs, shopping malls and other non-essential events that increase their carbon footprints substantially. The list goes on and on.

I don't quite understand the whole 'no plastic bag' idea. Considering most plastic bags now are biodegradable, and there is no real method of disposing the garbage in a sanitary manner. The everyday waste we produce such as chicken bones, and discarded food, need to be contained in a sealed bag for proper disposal. Without containing it in bags you're just letting the bacteria fester and spread out in the open and nobody wants to see that. We have always reused the plastic bags we got from our shopping for this very purpose, to completely eradicate it would be to reintroduce the plague, I think. Unless you have a better idea to contain this waste that does not seep and distribute it all over the place, plastic bags are the way to go.

So what I'm saying is not that what they're doing is wrong or bad, but if you are trying to champion a cause, I think it's best to do a personal review of your own lifestyle before trying to implement it on others. While every little bit helps, it does not mean nuts if you do this one little thing, and offset it by doing 3 other things. Start by planting a tree in your compound if you want, buy a fuel efficient vehicle, and when you're planning your next getaway or even going out shopping when you have nothing to buy, think about how much fossil fuel and emissions that you will be contributing. Think about the less fortunate people who recycle things for a living and give back to the community, not corporations that misuse a fad for profit. Above all, realize that everything you use, everything you do, contributes to global warming, and that everyone's in the same boat together.

So just because you use a canvas reusable bag doesn't suddenly make you the captain of the ship.