Thursday, April 3, 2014

green, grey and approaching Earth Day

Plastic bags, bags, bags: they are everywhere.

Last Friday, on my way home from work, a rogue bag kite flew out from the wooded area along the Cross Island Pkwy and got caught in my front grille.  The bristling noise interrupted an attention grabbing-War of the Roses bit-on KTU. (sorry to those unfamiliar and from distant places)

Once untangled from the nose of my CRV the circulating winds may well have carried the fugitive bag toward Little Neck Bay and caused distress for a swan or an egret.

Weekend getaway frustration involves more than just dodging potholes.  I wondered if the event was triggered by the negligent disposal of another driver, or the untidy garbage collection of a nearby resident.

I grumbled above the radio, “Damn bags!”  Then I thought, “Damn dilemma”.

I tried to speculate if I could go Costco style on everything I purchase and lug each item, for all eternity, back home by transferring one or two at a time from cart to car and car to house. “Doubtful”, I muttered. “I’d snap, surely”, is the confirmed reply I issued to self.
Then my brain cramped a little more as I realized that I needed that flying bag kite back so I could clean the cat litter box later that night.  And my neighbor needs two to clean up after her dog.

I began thinking about Mayor de Blasio and the recently proposed NYC plan to subject plastic and paper bags to 10 cent penalties. 
As I approached the LIE merge, it dawned on me that I’ve also been missing out on the 5 cent per bag credit for packing with reusable’s that’s offered at my supermarket.

“Am I crazy?” I wondered aloud.  I really fell down on that one.  It’s better than coupons.  I can by a bushel of reusable bags, pack just a couple of items in each at checkout and walk away with about three bucks each time I shop.
But then between my ears I heard a voice say “maybe that’s the wrong spirit”.  We need to help the environment.  That’s the plan.  Yes, help the environment. 

Still driving along, and feeling fuzzy about the details, I had to put on hold any attempt at figuring out the dog poop with the bare hands quandary.  It’s just too complicated even with hands free technology.  But with a determination for openness I tried to presume that the research is done.  Right?  All this must have been carefully figured out to address the major culprit-those damn flimsy, omnipresent, flying high over ball fields and City and Town Halls everywhere-bag kites. 
Now with the sharp turn of my exit near I wanted to make a decision and so I declared “What the heck, I’ll try it, first thing in the morning I will go out and buy a bunch of those reusable bags”.

I guess there will be varieties and choices to make. 
Do I choose cotton, canvass or polypropylene bags?  Do I look for bags made in the USA?  Or maybe since I’m new to this I should just stick with the cheapest products.  Yes, that makes sense; browse the section made in China or elsewhere around the globe.  The bags smartly produced on much more raw material and energy.  The well traveled bags demanding enormous fossil fuel consumption on their trek back from Asia.  The colorful, stylish bags made without any trepidation of lead blends in the paints and dyes.

The bags that I will vow never to leave at home, or in the other car, or with my son at his Little League practice.  The magical bags that will avoid contamination by spills and bacteria and muck and mud and that will live on in the trunk of my car for perpetuity. 
The liberating reusable’s that I promise to monitor and cherish with honor and full disclosure.  The esteemed bags upon which I solemnly swear to not accept credit for when hauling home cardboard and hard plastic packaged vitamin supplements or thick plastic detergent bottles.  And conversely, I pledge to speak up when the gentlemen next to me buying pineapples in his kite bag at the express line is penalized.

Finally now, I reached home.  Radio off.  No more thinking or research.  Just action. 
But then, with keys in hand, as I tripped on my winter weary and organic lawn a different vision and vow came to mind.

An environmental vow that is void of vagueness.  A vow that has clarity and that doesn’t involve a lot of math, variables and time charts in order to pick the slightly lesser of two evils.
It goes like this. I will care about our aquifers and waterways.  I will care about our wildlife and cancer risks and will not use even one ounce of chemicals and pesticides between my picket fences as we move headlong into landscaping season.

It is a simple vow that requires no substitutes.  Grass already knows how to grow without chemicals.  It’s been happening for millions of years.
I closed the door behind me and thought, bags, bags, bags: we need to conserve and contain them. 

Water, water, water: we need to love and respect it. 
© 2014 Christopher’s Views


  1. Ah, Christopher, I have had the same kind of day over the past months and asked the same questions and come to same conclusion. Whatever, the answers are really up to us and so is whatever action is needed. What happened to that fun, "no-problem" world we all had "back then"! Hope you are doing well. Good to see you online!! Enjoy your weekend!!

  2. So true! Plastic is terrible for our wildlife and environment. Some cities have banned them - I only hope this continues. I have a collection of plastic bags that I use and then re-use for rubbish etc... but I'd really love to have a biodegradable alternative more readily available.

  3. Glad you are here to puzzle this out for us, Christopher!

    ALOHA from Honolulu

    =^..^= <3

  4. i just wrote a piece the other day on how we kid ourselves enviromentally....if we really wanted to impact the enviro we would travel alternative methods...we would stop clear cutting trees and use the houses we have available...its all about inconvenience though...

  5. That’s a lot of brain power expended on a minor issue. Like Brian before me says, it’s much more a question of gas guzzling transport, AC at all times, food wasted, water wasted, etc. etc.

    We’ll let this planet go to hell in a handcart because we value our convenience and way of life.

  6. When we lived in Europe we did our shopping with net bags. When we came here, I used a net bag my Oma gave me and got laughed at. Now, reusuable bags are all the rage. We need to make conservation sexy.

  7. I agree with Brian and Friko that deep cuts are the ones that are most necessary. At the same time, bags are a reasonable way to start. Then ride your bike everywhere with those canvas tote bags on the back!

  8. Big changes and small changes are both important, I think. Any change at all is better than none, isn't it?

  9. My new years resolution was to give up using plastic bags at the grocer this year! I've done so in the past & then usually forget my reusables in the trunk. I decided I didn't want to feel bad about always forgetting so I was determined to form a new habit. This new habit has started to spill over into also recycling all the plastic bags from my fruits & veggies & even the plastic that covers my husbands shirts from the cleaners too. I just stuff them into a bag in my trunk & take them to the plastic recycle container at the supermarket whenever I go shopping. Most grocers have them at their entrance now. I use the small one's from my newspaper to pick up our dog's "business" but recently someone suggested using newspaper instead. I still use plastic for the kitchen trash liner though! I guess that will be my next step. I remember they used to sell biodegradable ones. I also started a compost pile again too. What is that expression about it taking just one candle to light the dark? People have a lot more power than they think & these things really do add up - especially when others see what you are doing & start to change too. I also use organic products to grow our lawn & I am glad to hear you do as well!
    I hope you are enjoying our recent warm temperatures Chris!
    PS I enjoyed your piece about your boiler friend...I can so relate to that. I have a very old friend in our basement too.

  10. pretty nice blog, following :)