Earth Day

Can it be that earth day is 40 years old,?  Or on a more personal note, that I was 16, nearing 17, that first year?

I remember it well.   The environmental movement was very new, and a young group of us at school were taking a class called 'Human Ecology', whose instructor, no kidding, was named Green.   When it was suggested that we take an afternoon off from school to go out and clean up the roadsides, none of us had to be asked twice ("oh no, Mr. Green, I couldn't possibly miss Algebra just to spend a school afternoon outside").   

The principles of green, then as now, were imperfectly understood.  We set forth on our clean-up mission armed with a box of 100 plastic garbage bags, in my mother's Buick station wagon, longer than a city block, with a 455 cube 4-barrel with overdrive, the largest of the many large engines that GM produced in those days, burning up the ozone at 14 mpg (pretty houses aren't the only thing I know about).

Nevertheless, what we cleaned up from the roadsides that day was shocking---literally thousands of beer cans (Miller being the hands down rural Maine favorite in those pre-Heineken days), old newspapers and magazines, household refuse.  
Since then, Maine has passed both a returnable bottle bill and one of the stiffest drunk driving laws in the nation, pretty much taking care of the Miller can problem, and our village was one of the first in Maine to have re-cycling at the local dump, now known as the Solid Waste Disposal Center (I still call it the Dump), but the things one sees tossed away, waiting to fill up the landfill is shocking.   The town has a sewage treatment system, and no longer does the estate of a major department store heiress discharge the waste of its 10 bathrooms directly into the bay, as we discovered on another class outing.  Progress is being made.   Yet, despite all we know, there are still an alarming number of public building sized SUV's and gigantic Pickups trolling local streets, totally unnecessary for daily life, making that giant Buick Wagon of my youth look like a pedal car,(when did the humble pickup trucks of my childhood become the size of a semi, and why?), and in the summer, big box stores are artificially cooled to the temperature of a refrigerator.   The local food movement has some traction, but is expensive,  and the food mostly gets transported home in one of those Ozone burning SUV's  (wtf is wrong with people?).  People drive insanely fast, making a joke of fuel economy, but lawns are mostly organically fertilized now---rare is the sight of one of those unnaturally green weedless chemical lawns.   We mean well, but there's a long way to go before we get there.  

And then there's the matter of all those plastic shutters which will have to be thrown away some day. 


the sidekick said...

From my pedestrian wanderings on those same byways, I can definitively state that Bud, in a number of forms, is now the beer of choice for those who like to quickly dispose of their beverage containers -- not a Stella Artois to be found. I think there is a doctoral thesis in there somewhere!

Happy Earth Day!

The Down East Dilettante said...

Yes, my house is exactly the distance required from the store for someone to consume an after work beer and toss it out the window, and bud cans definitely predominate.

But, hey, you load them in your hybrid and take them to Kans for Kitties for re-cycling for benefit of the local animal shelter---and you take a string bag to the grocery store. Now if we could just get you to give up that private jet....

ArchitectDesign™ said...

At least the plastic shutters can be recycled? LOL
I so agree with you on many points but at least the direction of the past 40 years has been in the right direction, you have to start somewhere ( I know I'm the ever-lasting optimist). Those big cars are what really get to me - that we still don't have a car fueled by a renewable resource floors me. I don't own a car, buy organic everything and live in a leed certified green building (425sf!) but I'm sure there are still so many things I could do to cut back. We'll never be to zero but we can all make a difference!

The Down East Dilettante said...

Stefan, I agree that real progress has been made---but two simple no-brainers that get me are the over-cooled box stores and hotels, which under the 2 degree rule could cut consumption---and those stupid, stupid giant SUV's and trucks, which even after the last two years won't go away, which take up more than their fair share of everything, from gas to parking spaces. And the excuse that one needs the space is pure hokum, as the damn things aren't really designed to hold anything at all. If someone really needs the space, even a mini-van gets better mileage, with CAR emissions, and far more efficient interior space. Grrrrrr.

I remember watching two giant SUV's duking it out for turning space at a tight corner in Greenwich Village a few years ago...a car that size in the city? No reason. No reason at all.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

yes -those huge cars are ridiculous. And the funny thing is -the bigger the car, generally the less people in it (typically one) and they're generally TINY people.
At my old firm I had a boss who was well over 300 lbs -but he drove this TINY little car. I seriously don't know how he fit in it, but he was the one person whom I woudln't fault for driving a suburban!

The Down East Dilettante said...

I had a customer who had to practically parachute out of her Ford Expedition, and almost needed a ladder to get it. It was discomforting to watch.

Turner Pack Rats said...

some people go on thinking, however, that dandelions are weeds. if we started eating wild and didn't work so hard at artificial gardens, our health would immediately improve. did you know that elderberries have 30 times more vit C than an orange yet most consider them a weed and that pernicious "bamboo" ubiquitous in Maine makes a better rhubarb sauce than rhubarb? you can also steam the new shoots like asparagus.
the other part of this earth day thing that bugs me is that no where in this "green it -mean it" campaign has anyone from the top (Obama) on down mentioned CONSERVATION. if every single person in this country turned off the lights when not in use and commercial buildings did the same, our oil crisis (and dependence) would drop to nothing. look around you next time in a city at night and see how many lights are on for no reason and think oil.
a few years ago, i was driving down center st in auburn at night when a major transformer blew out and every light for about 5 miles all went out at the same time. cars on center st stopped dead. everyone was immobilized and the effect of all that commercial lighting gone - too much for the average brain but i approved.

security word def - "inicorg" -stuck in a machine

smilla4blogs said...

Great post Dilettante..and so nice to run into the virtual you at the post office!

Not long ago, Peter and I were dining at one of our town's nicer restaurants when a young woman arrived and inquired if there was anything on the menu for vegans. I don't have anything against vegans, but she made quite a scene and finally ordered a cup of warm water. Not long after, she left her dining companions and Peter and I saw her waiting in a huge SUV, leather seats, motor running. Go figure!

La Petite Gallery said...

Gee whiz! Speaking of roads in Maine, we have such trash here and a pretty mail box will get hit by a baseball bat. I wish They could catch those beer drinkers. I also wish the State of Maine would tell us the reason for the new highway to nowhere Cost $1.7 million.
Maybe they could get the criminals in the Thomaston Prison to pick up trash. The reason we don't have fuel economy cars is Politics.

home before dark said...

Sorry I am late for the party. As a 60 year old boomer, I remember this well. We do what we can, but we can do more. For my personal contribution on my less than 1/3 acre city lot, I grow what might be called a tree farm. Trees are my favorite plants. What can I say? I compost. I recycle. I took out all of my grass and no longer own gas-powered lawn equipment. To sponsor my retirement at 45 I gave up my car. I can walk to the grocery store, the hardware store, the liquor store and two book stores. Other trips, I can always get the car from my husband. I know the VEGAN types Smila referred to. They are so mindless in their mindfulness. When SUVs are taxed up the whazzoo,
perhaps consciousness will be raised. The recent death of the Hummer gives one hope. From Kansas to Maine, happy thinking about a better earth.

Reggie Darling said...

Yesterday afternoon I walked the periphery of my property and picked up over 70 cigarette butts that passersby thoughtfully threw on it, plus two cups from fast food joints, a sneaker, various empty food wrappers, and flyer from WalMart. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Somehow or other, it all goes back to hormones.