Friday, April 11, 2008

Confessions of the environmentally un-friendly.

Do you ever feel guilty just by being around somebody? There are a lot of people in the world who are FAR better at a lot of things than I am. And a lot of people who care about a lot of causes I don’t even think twice about. Sometimes I have to laugh at some of them (Save the polar bears from global warming? That’s your major concern in life?) and some I just feel guilty about as I continue to ignore the problem.

There is a person in my office who comes in once a week (on Fridays) to do small projects and keep things caught up for us. She’s probably the most environmentally friendly person I’ve ever met in real life. (I hear a lot about tree-huggers and hippies, but I don’t really know any.) A lot of people “do their part” by recycling (only if the city does it, heaven forbid we go out of our way to do so), not drinking bottled water, not being wasteful, etc. But this woman takes it to the extreme.

I work in a house between Ensign Peak and the State Capitol building. It’s UP a hill. And not a small one. Seriously, in the snow my car can’t get up the hill because it’s long and steep. She lives in Sugar House, and because she thinks it’s wasteful and environmentally un-friendly to drive, she takes the bus downtown and walks the 4-5 miles up the hill to work in the morning (adding about an hour to her commute). She’s the kind of person that has probably been taking her own bags to the grocery store for WAY longer than it’s been the cool thing to do. She doesn’t waste ANYTHING and doesn’t use anything disposable. She brings a Ziplock bag with cereal in it for lunch and I’m pretty sure has used the same Ziplock bag every day since she was born. Her husband owns some property in a town outside of St. George and she likes that town better than St. George because they don’t allow grass. She can’t believe people in St. George use so much water on their lawns and thinks it’s disgusting how wasteful they are. She also doesn’t want to live in St. George because she’d have to drive to the grocery store instead of walking or riding her bike. To top it all of she has used the same Arrowhead water bottle (just refilling it with tap water) since she started here more than a year ago.

Since she’s so vocal about how disgusted she is when she sees a car with only one person in it, people watering their lawns in a “dessert” (Salt Lake City), or somebody wasting gas driving to get fast food for lunch and then throwing away the paper bag and cup it came in, I’m pretty sure she’s also disgusted when I drink a bottle of water, and throw away the empty bottle when I’m done. We recycle the bottles - which makes me feel a little better, but I don’t compost my produce peels, grow my own wheat, or hike up the hill to work. Don’t tell her, but I even get plastic bags at the grocery store – and sometimes I don’t reuse OR recycle them.

I am a garbage folder, it’s a weird habit I’ve had longer than I can remember, but I don’t to throw things away unless they are smaller than they started. So, I squish my water bottles before I throw them away and they make a loud plastic crunching sound. Except on Fridays. I have a water bottle in my recycle can that is full of air and is taking up 3 times more space than it needs to and it’s making me crazy – BUT not as crazy as it would make me to have her glare at me for being so wasteful.

I think I am a wasteful person actually. I’m a leftovers-thrower-awayer. I drive to the grocery store for just 1 thing. I turn the lights on in my house well before the sun goes down. I leave the TV on while I’m cooking and can’t really watch it. I don’t even recycle paper anymore. I have 20-something pairs of shoes (all made in sweat shops I’m sure), and some of them I haven’t worn for months (proving that I don’t need them). I throw away water bottles when I’m done with them. I don’t rinse and re-use ziplock bags. I let the water run while I’m brushing my teeth and while I’m soaping up in the shower. I take long showers to get warm when I’m cold. If there is something scary in my food (a hair, or anything questionable in raw meat when I'm cooking) I’ll throw the whole thing away instead of picking around it. I don't think I've ever used all of a bottle of lotion or tube of chapstick.

I do have a few (3 counts as “few” right?) redeeming qualities I guess….like I NEVER throw away paperclips or rubber bands. I often re-use my grocery sacks. And I usually turn off my thermostat when we aren’t home.

For now I guess I’ll have to ignore the full-of-air water bottle that is taunting me and be confident that at least I threw it in the recycle can instead of the garbage. Maybe that will save a tree somewhere....


  1. Hi Amy! I found your blog, because you found my blog. This post made me laugh so hard. You were always excellent at making me laugh though. Thanks!

  2. Just wait till you have kids and you go through hundreds of diapers a week...(okay maybe not HUNDREDS a WEEK but certainly a month).


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