Friday, May 11, 2007

An Inconvienent Truth

So, I must be the last person on Earth to have seen this movie, but I had to work up the courage. Documentaries about what we are doing to the planet and the end of the world, whether it be from a giant meteor or global warming tend to put me in a funk that is hard to shake afterward.

I am glad I saw it. I was not left feeling hopeless and desperate and worried afterward. (Well, maybe a little worried, but I slept just fine last night.) If anything the movie reassured me that I am on the right track in my own life. My goal to streamline and simplify my life seems to go hand in hand with becoming more environmentally aware when making consumer decisions.

I have been trying to focus on the first of the three Rs lately: Reduce. My latest consumer decision may seem small, but I feel good about making it. I have decided to stop buying juice boxes for the kids. They are so expensive and I always got a little lurch in the pit of my belly when I had to throw those packages in the garbage. We use re-usable juice boxes now or I will bring a big bottle of juice and cups from home when we go out. My next goal is to cut down our baggie consumption. I still go through too many of those in a week because lids and containers never stay together long in my cupboard. My goal to breastfeed my new baby also goes along with this--not needing to buy bottles and containers of formula is not only much healthier for baby and me, but also for our local landfill site.

According to the movie's Carbon Calculator, my family is leaving a "much smaller than average" footprint. That is reassuring, but I am sceptical of the data. I know that we use an above average amount of natural gas to heat our house because it is so poorly insulated you can feel a draft coming through the electrical outlets in the winter. We do try to keep the thermostat down and have a big basket of blankets in our living room to snuggle under. We are working on getting new siding and insulation this year. I know we made a difference to our consumption of fossil fuels by taking the license off of our mid-80's boat and selling our gas-guzzling Caddie. My minivan is no Prius, but I can go a lot farther with a tank of gas than I ever could with our other two vehicles.

I am intrigued by this group in San Francisco. They are challenging people to re-examine their own consumerism and to not buy new when they can buy second hand or make themselves for a year. They also encourage people to use local business wherever possible. Being married to a local businessman, that point is one very near and dear to me! I know that I can't follow the pledge to the letter, but reading about them has really made me think twice about my purchasing habits lately. I am trying very hard to find alternative to buying new clothes for my kids now since they only wear things for a short time and I feel like I am following my mandate to Reduce in my life by not contributing to the production of new things in this world when there are things already here that can be used instead.

Even though I know I have a long way to go, I am glad I am on the right track to making the world a little bit better. What are you doing? What did you think of the movie?


pollyhyper said...

Interesting piece on lilacs and global warming on NPR today

I took the carbon quiz and it said I was very irresponsible. Now, when I took it from 2 up to 10 members of the household, it said I was "average." I'm quite aware that my house is entirely too big and old/drafty to get a good score, but I think this quiz is a bit bogus nonetheless, because:

(a) having 8 kids is going to enlarge, not shrink, my footprint,


(b) it just wasn't based on enough. Our utility prices are pretty ridiculous here, so I can be using less, say, electric than others, but getting charged more. I don't see how this could be reflected in that quiz.

Aside from that, I was so moved by this documentary, and driven to do even more. We're trying, but we're in no way living the responsible life we should be. We recycle, reuse, reduce, and repurpose. We own a hybrid. We also own a huge-ass house with an old boiler and sub-par insulation. And we drive a lot as part of our jobs. Plans for the near future include re-doing the roof and using the opportunity to put in as many solar panels as I can justify, and slowly re-insulating. Meanwhile, I think I'll just keep crocheting afghans and start making more wallhangings.

Ami said...

I haven't seen it. Don't plan to. I see the messenger (Algore) as um, lacking in credibility. He lives in a huge mansion, flies all over the place, uses first class accomodations... all things that I don't do/have.

I've tried to recycle, re-use, reduce... whatever I can do.
Don't need him to tell me how.