This will begin an occasional series of tips, rants and things that run through my addled brain regarding the environment.
I can't think too much about the state of the world before my stomach starts to knot up and I begin feeling a little woogy.
Despite my general good cheer, when I think about the fisheries collapse,the ice caps melting, the loss of topsoil - it's all pretty hellish and alarming and it is easier to just go along singing "Tra la, tra la, I can't hear you! Everything is fine in my little brain." But I can only escape for so long, then reality creeps back in. Awareness stinks sometimes, doesn't it? If I only didn't have a brain I could be like Pres. Bush and live in ignorant bliss.
As one of my favorite all-time movie characters, Billy Kwan in "The Year of Living Dangerously," "What then must we do?" Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness, right?
So along those lines, when Goldie and I go to the beach, I collect plastic trash. I just take a plastic shopping bag and fill it up while she searches for small furry animals to kill (please note: she is not a very efficient hunter. I estimate her walk to kill ratio to be about 450:1).
Filling one bag takes about 5 minutes, usually, and I always find weird stuff, not just items you would expect to wash up with the driftwood. My oddest all-time find was a printer paper tray, almost intact. On our last outing it was an almost-full bottle of Mr. Clean. It didn't seem like it would float. Do people BRING bathroom cleanser to the beach for some nefarious purpose that I am too naive to think of?
The Category of CrapTM I find most, though, is styrofoam bits. I can lean down and there will be 20 bits within the reach of my hand.
It is a plague. It feels more soul-satisfying to pick up something fairly large like an empty water bottle, but I know that animals feed on styrofoam because I have seen them do it. The nasty stuff clogs their digestive systems and they die a slow, painful death. So I figure that every styrofoam bit I pick up is one less for a bird or turtle to eat.
It is a bad, bad problem because the bits don't ever go away. They just get smaller and smaller and finally break into little styro-balls that look like tiny fish eggs to sea creatures, many of which, incidentally, LOVE to eat fish eggs.
Have you heard of The Northern Pacific Gyre? It is a mass of plastic trash estimated to be twice the size of Texas (and as someone who has driven across northern Texas - which is the small part - I can safely say that is HUGE) swirling around the ocean, caught where 4 currents meet.
Here's my plea - please consider banning styrofoam products from your life. If you go to restaurants or delis that use styrofoam packaging, ask them to make a change or go somewhere else.
Think of an alternative. I carry my groovy insulated stainless steel coffee cup with me everywhere I go, so I figure I save a couple hundred to-go cups a year (considering the amount of java I consume). It has the added benefit of keeping iced coffee cold overnight and hot coffee warm for hours.
And while I am nagging you, fergoodnesssake, get a refillable water bottle . Is there some good reason every family should produce its weight in plastic disposable water bottles every year?
If you're truly afraid of bad-quality water (and if you live in the US or developed world you probably shouldn't be), get a filtration system. You can save hundreds of dollars a year and all of the packaging, labeling, labor, energy and fuel costs that go into manufacturing little disposables.
I kind of lust after these sexxay (ok, I'm weird about what is sexxay)Sigg Aluminum Bottles but I just can't justify buying one, considering the number of Nalgenes I have kicking around. My thrifty gene outweighs my need to be cool.
Ok, enough assvice for one week. Go. Do. Baby steps. Make Suebob proud.