A neighbor of mine – Tony – is trying his best to take this “going green” thing seriously. For example, he tells me that he’s recently begun recycling his newspaper each week. “The entire newspaper?” I asked. He shook his head. “No, “he admitted. “ Just your column.”
I asked him what he thinks about Seattle Mayor Greg Nickel’s proposed 20-cents-a-bag fee for all disposable bags at grocery and drug stores. “I think it stinks,” Tony said. “I know that Nickels and all the other greenies want everybody to carry canvas sacks with them everywhere they shop, but I’m not gonna do it.”
But Tony’s not really a rebel. It turns out he has severe canvas allergies. That’s why, he says, he always brings his own plastic and paper bags with him to the store. “If everybody just reused the plastic and paper bags already in existence,” Tony maintains, “then those bags never wind up in the landfill, they wouldn’t be an environmental concern, and we could put Big Canvas out of business.”
My grandma used to say that no one should buy more at the grocery store than they can carry on their person. That’s why she always went to the store wearing her largest long coat – one with lots of big, deep pockets. As a result, she would arrive at the store as a slight, slender woman and leave as a bulky, hefty one.
Her personal best effort saw her arrive home with seven cans of beans, three tins of tuna, two quarts of buttermilk and a small watermelon – all within her coat. Her ankles were killing her, however.
Lately, all of our local TV news stations have been admonishing – even scolding – us to be better stewards of the planet. One report offered tips on how to lower our daily electricity usage. Among the tips they didn’t mention: Turn off your TV set. Seems odd that they somehow missed that one.
Otherwise, their conservation tips include things such as doing your laundry after 9 at night when the demand for electricity is lower. Better yet, my kids used to say, why do laundry at all? By their definition, “going green” means letting your clothing take on mildew and mold hues. If the clothes get musty enough, you might even find some truffles inside.
Another hint I saw on a local TV news show the other night (and I’m not kidding): “Turn off your lights when you go to bed at night.” That’s a terrific idea, and not one that most people would ever think of. It’s also a good idea to turn your oven off when you’re not baking – or putting your head inside it.
Beyond all those tips, here are a few others to toss onto that surging bandwagon that’s rolling into Greensville:
• Each night, assign each member of your family a single, 40-watt, incandescent light bulb – one of those curly-cue types that looks like the top of a Dairy Queen ice cream cone. Then, as each person goes from room to room at night, they take their bulb with them, screwing it in and out of fixtures as needed. This does, of course, require a keen memory of exactly where all the fixtures and furniture is located, since it will be pitch-black in between times. It might be wise to put phosphorescent paint on the cat.
• Rather than operate an electricity-hogging vacuum cleaner, tidy up your carpets by covering your body in two-sided sticky tape. Then, roll around the floors for a while. They’ll be spic and span inside of 20 minutes. Make sure grandpa gets in on the fun, too.
• Always be looking for ways to multi-task. For example, when using your clothes dryer, toss the frozen meat you’re using for dinner in there, too. It’ll be completely defrosted by the time the load’s done. Be sure to put it into a heat-resistant baggie first, or you may get marbling in your towels and pillowcases.
• A personal trainer I know recommends taping a ham sandwich onto your torso prior to working out. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a ready-to-eat hot meal.
• Some neighborhoods are experimenting with the idea of organizing block bathing parties. It’s all about folks saving energy – and getting to know each other better – by taking baths together. Statistics show 11 percent lower electric and water bills. The other news: A 42 percent increase in divorces – and new marriages.
• One more idea to consider: There are thousands of traffic light intersections in this state, all of them featuring the customary green, yellow and red lights. But since most drivers seem to pay no attention to the yellow ones, why not just turn those off? The cost savings would be considerable. And TV news would have lots of cool car crashes to show us each night. Everybody wins.
Pat Cashman is a writer, actor and public speaker. He can be reached at email@example.com