Monday, April 21, 2008

Joint forces

I went to the grocery store yesterday for the usual milk, eggs, bread, and cheese. Instead of the milk I opted for another dairy product a little further down the chain from the original cow and bought some Klondike bars. I also bought some Jewish Rye bread and extra sharp Cheddar which is a sandwich we used to eat at my Grandparent Thompson's house when we were kids, and I was craving that memory. Then I bought some Vitamin Water for Ell; she loves that stuff. I tell you all that to say my usual under $20 grocery bill was quite more than that. And so my purchases required a few more bags as well.

As she reached for the now usual plastic bags, I asked the young girl cashier if she could instead use paper. I'm pretty sure it was her first time using a paper bag because she looked up at me more than once with this helpless, "I have no idea where to put stuff" look on her face. She still ended up putting my frozen pizza (did I mention Ell's been away for a few days?) and the water into plastic bags; but she made a valiant effort.

When I got home I noticed the paper grocery bags seemed to have been scribbled all over. The scribbling turned out to be the handiwork of local elementary school students who had decorated them for Earth Day. In every color of crayon there were sayings like, "Let the earth blossom like a brand new flower" and, "Use compact fluorescent light bulbs" and my favorite from a more locally thinking lad, "Save our Town Don't be a clown." On the sides were lists like, "Ways to reuse this bag" and, "Save our Earth." The latter had things like, "take shorter showers, air dry your clothes, plant a tree" etc. Pretty cool stuff, really. It's good to see that school administrators are getting kids involved and attentive at an early age.

This might be a surprise to some of you, but I've never really been into Earth Day. Sure, I think it's a great idea and at least a small step in the right direction in making people aware of this place they call home, but I've never done anything to promote or encourage it. This year though it's kind of intrigued me because it falls on the calendar during "Turn off your TV" week. Not sure if that's a coincidence or on purpose, but it's got my attention.

Imagine the energy savings if every American didn't use the electricity the TV soaks up, even if only for one week. It would be huge! And not just because of the TV, but I imagine more people would be going for walks or playing sports or sitting on their porches if they weren't tied to the invisible restraints TV usually had on them. So if all those people are outside there would be less energy usage for lights and heating/cooling and microwave dinners, etc. (Like how I threw in the assumption that all TV viewing accompanies the eating of TV dinners? Sly, aren't I?) My point is, with Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, and the result being a focus on the environment, turning off all the TVs makes perfect sense towards that goal.

But we all know energy savings aren't the first thing people think of when someone mentions turning off the tube. That strikes a much deeper cord with a whole lot of us. How dare I even mention it, right? But I have to ask, if there's some "thing" you'd get so violently up-in-arms about that isn't actually vital to your survival as a human being, is there a possibility that "thing" has a bit higher priority in your life than it should?

In no way am I saying I can't relate. I used to have at least two shows (usually more) each night that were "must see TV" for me. So I know what you TV-junkies are thinking. Thankfully, I've weaned myself off that diet of hypnotic trance and have only one show I really want to see during an entire week. And much to my surprise, I miss it more than I catch it and my life seems to go on just fine. The older I get, I just see TV as such a crutch for some and a time-stealer for others. I hate the addictive hold it seems to have on so many people I know. While I recognize there's a lot of great stuff on there, I just see so much other great stuff outside of the talking box that I would rather do.

Please know I'm not challenging or ridiculing anyone, these are just my thoughts for today. I'm not going to watch TV this week; join me if you want.

10 Comments:

Blogger Adrienne said...

Wow! This has been met with such enthusiasm! :p

I'm afraid I can't agree to join you. I shower because of morning cartoons. "Sit on my bed. Watch 'toons, and I'll be out in a bit. Works like a charm.

I hear they're on the verge of implementing a "plastic bag Tax". I'm not sure if that is just locally. Ireland did that a few years back. They said it cut down drastically on the ugly site of bags lining the highways.

There's my two cents for the day!

12:11 PM  
Blogger GUYK said...

next time anyone asks yo if you want paper or plastic just tell them it don't make no difference..it is either choke a fish or kill a tree...

12:45 PM  
Blogger Close To Home said...

choke a fish or kill a tree..FUNNY.

yeah, well we'd make up for all your tv nonwatching! LOL! I can't stay away from the following: Dancing with the Stars, New Amsterdam, American Idol, Lost.....sorry! But we did talk about Earth Day. And read about it. AND watched tv about it!! LOL!

3:48 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Amy, I don't think there was anything anyone could have did or said about this post that would have made me laugh more than:

"AND watched tv about it! LOL!"

I can just imagine you watching a nice program and then reading this post and just cracking up as a family. That is too funny!

3:54 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

hey buddy if you haven't seen yet there's a site that has really affected my thinking about green http://www.coolpeoplecare.org/ for a really long time i was under the thinking that you had to really make HUGE life adjustments to make a difference but this site emails you once a day something little you can do (mostly under 5 min.) every day. Some are really unique like for one week bring your own coffee mug to your favorite coffee shop instead of using the paper cup everyone normally gets.

A buddy who's in youth ministry uses this for his group as a Lenten devotional! check it out.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Thanks Dave. I think that's the thing people need to realize in this age of abuse on Mother Earth: to create big change we have to take small steps. The problems we have seem so overwhelming and without hope, but the good news is we don't have to fix it all by ourselves. We all do a little and the change becomes huge.

10:30 AM  
Blogger hennhouse said...

You think the paper bag had your check-out girl in a tizzy-- try handing her your own canvas bags--or offering to bag your own groceries in your own bags. That is what we do. And we walk to the grocery on Saturday mornings so we don't have to drive. Just my thoughts.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Our local grocery store sells those reusable bags. They are a vinyl type material and a bit smaller than the canvas bags, so she would have been used to those. But yeah, if we had taken our canvas bags, her head may have exploded.

Poor girl, getting made fun of on the internet and she doesn't even know it. Hee-Hee

12:39 PM  
Blogger Close To Home said...

I was thinking that if we all behaved a bit better, lots of waste would not happen...like well, use your imagination (speeding, partying..). LOL.
Seriously, if gas gets to be $4, I am not driving anywhere so I'll be helping the environment. Except when I have to be toted somewhere if I go nuts.

hehe yeah, sam. That made me LAUGH,too. Actually, i usually don't watch this show, but Oprah had lots about composting, and all sorts of things. Really interesting.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Zooomabooma said...

We, the citizenry of America, will NEVER get off our addiction to oil. People say they care... but we, all of us collectively, still drive as much as we used to... well, maybe a little less now because of the oil company CEO's who feel they need to keep increasing their profits every quarter while ripping us off with higher and higher gas prices.

Since oil will keep getting used in cars until it's all gone from the planet, that leaves us to try to clean things up (the atmosphere) with less energy use.

Fact o' the matter is that's not really happening. But it is true that if we all tried MORE, we could make a difference. The thing is -- what if we all turned off the TV for an extra 3 or 4 hours in a week. What about the next week? And the week after? It's an ongoing thing and I believe, for the most part people don't want to stick with something for so long like that. Consciously over a week -- sure. Consciously over a year? HA! But that's the only way things will really change so long as there are cars sucking up oil/gasoline and emitting that exhaust into the air. It's such an uphill battle that is seems unwinnable. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

And ya know there was the mention of killing trees... that's one reason we need hemp production in this country in order to help bring about significant change in the environment. Hemp can be used in place of wood and paper in so many applications and it can be grown a LOT faster than trees can. That's just one of many obstacles in really making a difference.

Bottom line is we can't save our Earth unless everyone tries and that's not going to happen. Doesn't mean I won't do my part... but if you want a new Ferrari and you save a penny a year, how long's it gonna take you to buy that brand new sweeeeet ride? Same thing with the Earth, almost. What difference are you gonna make if 2 billion people in Asia do nothing while at the same time lobbyists for the automobile and oil industries have our government in the palms of their hands?

P.S. if there's something that makes someone get violently up in arms about cutting out of their life... wouldn't that be like an addiction and/or idolatry? TV has that stranglehold on people. Going for walks, playing sports, sitting on the porch? That's for people who don't like TV (is what I imagine many TV-addicted people might think. They can do those things when their shows aren't on.) Quite sad.

9:54 AM  

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