Posts Tagged ‘earthday’

Earth Day

49 years ago (gasp!), I posed with a group of classmates for Earth Day 1972. We were going to leave this world a better place for our theoretical children and their children. I was 15 years old.

There I am, all full of hope and determination. No more pollution! Clean rivers, lakes, ponds, oceans! Sustainable living!

Here I am, 49 years later, and very jaded about the entire process.

Stand in any parking lot in the United States and observe the people around you. Those eating fast food that open their car window and drop the entire contents of the fast food paper bag on the ground without a thought: plastic, paper, food waste. Don’t confront them because they will s wear at you, threaten you, and even – possibly – attempt to hurt you. They may be driving a POS of a car or a Lexus.


I moved to Oregon in the late 1970’s. It was supposed to be a state of are beauty, clean roadsides, unpolluted waterways. Oregon established the original Bottle Bill to keep cans and bottles out of landfills and repay good citizens for recycling: $0.05 deposit on cans and $0.10 on glass bottles. You could make money walking along the highway and collecting cans out-of-staters threw out their windows. No one I knew littered.

Ah, for the 1970’s and early 1980’s. They are no more.

I have hiked to remote lakes and picked up empty beer cans that someone carried in with them full, but didn’t have the decency to carry them out, empty. I have pulled into remote campsites and picked up dirty diapers in fire pits, carrying them out to the nearest place to drop them into a garbage can. My kids have cut their feet on discarded glass in our river beds. Our highways are littered with plastic, paper, cans, bottles. Parking lots are the worst garage receptacles. It seems that very few even begin to care.

The original bottle bill has been raped and pillaged by big business: one can no longer take their cans or bottles in to the nearest grocery store for redemption, but there are crowded redemption centers around the metro areas. You are limited to the number of cans and the number of bottles you can bring in over a month’s time. The parking area around one such redemption center is littered with post-its, receipts, labels, and what not. Crowds line up for blocks, blocking business entrances. You can leave bags for redemption and get the money back on a card, but that only works for cans, not bottles. The recycling business is now a convoluted conglomerate of consumerism.

Every day, we are bombarded with ways to create a better environment for our children with “clean” energy (solar or wind because hydro power endangers fish that can’t climb fish ladders* and natural gas isn’t “clean” enough). Drive an electric car. Quit driving altogether and take public transit. Don’t fly on airplanes because they are huge polluters.

I’m over-simplifying the issues to make a point: we aren’t talking about the herd of elephants in the room.

India. China. Parking lot trash people. The cost to make those electric car batteries and the half-life they live when they die. The hundreds of miles in the American West where there is no public transit and no electric car plug ins next to random sagebrush.

Mostly, China. Not the people: the governments. China is perhaps the worst polluter in the world, but there are no sanctions against the Nation. They don’t care. Not about their own citizens they continue to poison, not about our pets they continue to poison, not about the deadly words “global Warming”. China doesn’t care.

I am convinced that beyond anything else, that we have to start with parking lot trash people. If we can’t educate and change the minds of those who continue to litter without consideration, we will *never* have a clean environment. These heathens do not care. Not about wildlife, not about how ugly it is, not about anything but their immediate need to dump the garbage out of their car onto the pavement for some poor “other” bastard to clean up (meaning you or I).

I’ve walked around cities where my children live and watched my kids pick up other people’s garbage. My daughter picked up plastic bottles around a garbage can in Arizona and dropped them into the garbage can while skaters and bikers circled her and tossed out even more garbage *because they haven’t been taught to care*. My son and his wife picked up sea washed debris and hauled it through a group of sunbathers to a public garbage bin, and not one of the sunbathers thought to do the same. My daughter in law even commented on the apathy she beheld among those in their little lounges.

If we want to save the world, we have to begin at the very bottom, with the bottom feeders who continue to throw their fast food Big Gulp drinks out into the middle of the street. We have to educate. We have to make recycling sustainable and available to everyone, everywhere, and keep big business out of the mix.We have to call those nations into accountability that *do not* have any protocols in place and that *do not* participate in worldwide efforts to clean the air and water. We need to talk about the elephants in the room. We need to talk about the environmental damage that wind farms cause, from noise pollution to what they do to large raptors.

I wrote this off-the-cuff, so I expect some intelligent feedback from others with a differing point of view. I only expect you to be respectful, not resort to name-calling, and not react with a knee jerk. I accept my opinions are not the popular ones. I accept that I may not have all the facts on some items (and welcome intelligent correction). Really.

Let’s talk about those “elephants”.

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