Tuesday, August 16, 2005

1368 I'm an ecological disaster

And so are you. Recently I took one of those internet quizes about consuming resources, and it turns out if everyone used nonrenewable resources as I do, we'd need 7.5 earths to support the current population! And I'm careful.

When was the first Earth Day? 35 years ago--1970? Sounds about right. I was a Democrat and a member of a large, non-denominational liberal church where the Sunday School lessons featured purple Martians instead of Bible stories (wouldn't want to frighten the kids, right?). We certainly talked a good line on saving the earth as Christians. So I'm looking around wondering what's changed since I was so excited about "saving the planet" 35 years ago.

In 1970 we owned one house (with the bank) built in 1939. We thought we'd died and gone to heaven it was so lovely, so far beyond what we'd ever expected to own. The house had no AC, wood siding, no insulation, new furnace, original kitchen, 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. When we sold it in 2001, it had two more rooms, was wrapped in vinyl siding, had a new 2-car garage (i.e., less land), new furnace with AC, and had three fewer trees (one died, one grew too close to the foundation as it aged, and one was removed to make room for the garage). Ours was still the most modest in the neighborhood; our definition of modest had changed however. The current owner knocked out walls and added a fancy kitchen--probably spending $75,000.
It just creeps up on you, doesn't it? I even recycle and reuse and wear clothes 10 years out of fashion (actually, being a librarian I can't tell the difference).

We still don't eat a lot of processed foods, but all the "fresh" stuff comes more highly packaged than anything I could've imagined in 1970. The supermarkets, even Trader Joe's, look like palaces compared to where we shopped then. And as an educated woman, I really don't want to raise, slaughter, pluck and gut chickens, so I do buy them at the store and pay some southern white woman a good wage to do the dirty work.

We've never been people to drink much "liquid to go," but plastic bottled water? We'd have hooted at that idea 35 years ago. And pop sold only in 12 packs? Who'd a thunk it. I haven't even seen a paper sack in several years.

My kids were finally out of diapers by 1970--cloth diapers--and we were already reading alarming stories about the garbage dumps filling up with disposable diapers. They were going to cover the United States with poopy diapers. I'd used maybe a dozen disposable diapers between two kids, all for travel.

We had only one car in 1970, and one TV. This past week-end, my sister-in-law said she thought they had 10 TVs for 2 people (she has a mobile home and 2 trailers). I think we have 7 if we count the one here. In 1970 we laughed at the idea that people would have computers in their homes--to track finances and recipes and write letters. What a hoot (I heard a sermon on this in 1970). In 2003 I had three.

We do have only one cell phone. It is 5 years old. I took it into Verizon and the clerk had to find an older person (about 30) to wait on me.


Adinah said...

Beg your pardon, but those southern women who gut your chicken do not make a "good" days wage......as most live at or below the poverty level.....and being educated has nothing to do with the preparation of choice on food.
Just slap me, I've been hanging out with Vox Lauri too long........:), but I did have to comment on that one....

Norma said...

Smack. A "good wage" is better than what else is available that pays less. And yes, many of us get an education to earn a better wage, so we can pay other people to grow and process our food. It takes Xn hours and you either earn it and pay some one else, or you spend your own time and purchase it for less $$.

Some of us, librarians for instance, earn less than most other educated people, but the hours aren't bad, and of course, you just read all day. 8-)