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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Not Easy Being (Forced to Be) Green

by Josh (bio)

My wife and I are Oregon transplants. We moved here a few years ago, and have fallen in love with the place. The scenery is gorgeous, the people are uncommonly nice and we adapted very quickly to life here. If you can survive the rain, the summers here are unreal. Plus, we have Trader Joe's. What more can you want?

We weren't here long before we realized that the issue of environmentalism isn't really optional here. Our regular garbage is one third the size of our recycling can. Even if you want to wastefully throw unsorted trash into the garbage willy-nilly, you will soon run out of room. Recycling is the only way to make it fit.

We are charged $.05 for each can we buy, as a deposit, and have to return the cans to get the money back. I know this practice isn't unique to our fair state, but man, is it annoying. The can drop off centers smell like fermented fruit punch passed through a recycled catheter. They are swarming with flies and bees. (I guess if you have a bee allergy, the government gets to keep your nickel.) At least 80% of the machines are broken or jammed at any given moment. And there is always...ALWAYS some crazy old homeless man who has appointed himself the mayor of the can-do, who offers slurred advice about the fastest way to get the cans through. I'm scared to take my kids there. If you want me to recycle so much that you are holding my money hostage, then why do you make it so difficult?

I'm all for being green. I think as believers that the world is a creation of God, and as part of our divine birthright we should feel strongly about protecting it. But how much of what we are doing really helps? I'm all for buying a more fuel efficient car when mine finally dies (though really it is more motivated by not having to sell my oldest child to pay to fill it up and less by a desire to reduce pollution). We dutifully use our cheerfully decorated Trader Joe's reusable shopping bags. Though I often wonder, when you weigh in the environmental impact of that whole industry that has sprung up to manufacture and ship those bags, is the fossil fuel cost really less than a few paper bags? We have CFLs all over the house, and I guess they are better, but they remind me of being back on my mission in Italy where the questionable wiring in our apartments caused every light to take forty-five seconds to really turn on.

I am, clearly, not an environmentalist. If you are, weigh in and tell me where I am wrong. What are the most important (read: easy) things I can I do to be more environmental? Or am I doing okay? I guess you could say I'm lazy. I'm happy to do what I can...if it isn't too inconvenient. Hey! Is that why the movie was called An Inconvenient Truth? Good one, Gore. Good one.

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