Inauguration 2017 -The Bad Beginning

On this unpresidented day in American history, we need to take a lesson from literature, specifically A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Today we are all orphans in the charge of Count Olaf. But many of us are inventors and many of us are well-read, while others have sharp, useful teeth that can chew through the ropes. We only need to stick together and not give up.

That is all.

When the Refugees Came, or Why I Can’t Seem to Keep My Mouth Shut on Facebook

Memory from my childhood: I was about twelve years old, returning pop bottles for the deposits at a Safeway grocery store three blocks from my house in Kansas City. A wrinkled woman, not more than five feet tall, wearing a headscarf and a coat too heavy for the weather — probably someone’s grandmother — wheeled her cart toward the check-out lines. She had quite a bit of food.  I guessed she was shopping for the extended family.

The store was busy, lines at every register. I don’t remember what day of the week it was, but Saturday seems likely. I saw the woman stand still for a couple of minutes, scanning the scene, assessing the lines and then spotting one that was miraculously short. She rolled up to it and began unloading her cart of goods right under the sign that read “Express Lane. 12 items or less.” Continue reading

Earth Day Resolutions

I didn’t get to attend our city’s Earth Day celebration today because I was working. However, I have managed not to use a car all day. I walked to work. It’s not far, so I don’t save a lot of driving miles in one round-trip. On the other hand, I walk almost every time I go to work and I’ve had the same employer for nine years. It does add up. I figure at least 1,600 car miles displaced in that amount of time.

I’m continuing my effort to live a more environmentally friendly life by making one change at a time. Here are the steps I’ve taken since last Earth Day:

Reusable coffee filter. One of those things that pays for itself eventually. No more paper filters.

Reusable coffee filter in action.

Reusable coffee filter in action.

LED light bulbs. They’re much more energy-efficient than compact fluorescents, and contain no heavy metals. Also, they’re supposed to last longer – the package advertises 18 years. We’ll see. They’re still pretty expensive, so we’re replacing bulbs gradually, as they burn out.

Our new lighting.

Our new lighting.

Mesh produce bags.

I’ve been using canvas grocery bags for quite a while. But I was still tearing off the plastic bags from the rolls in the produce aisles at the grocery store when I wanted to buy a bunch of spinach or  several apples. Now I have these. They weigh next to nothing, so they’re not running up the price on fruit and vegetables by the pound.

Mesh produce bag

Mesh produce bag

No single one of these things is a huge change. But I hope, as with the walking, over the years it will add up enough to make a significant positive difference.

Next goal – a rain barrel or two.

 

Who Owns Your Stuff?

 

On October 29, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear an extremely important case.

If you ever buy or sell used items on eBay, craigslist, half.com, amazon.com or anywhere, this case affects you. Buying used is one of the main tenets of my life. It’s what makes life affordable. And I resell sometimes, especially books. If I’ve read it and know I’m not going to read it again, why not get back a couple of bucks, while giving someone else a bargain and the joy of reading?

This is not only an ownership issue. It’s an environmental issue. It’s the “reuse” part of “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” If you can’t pass on things you no longer need, what happens to them? Landfill?

It’s an equality issue. It would hurt lower-income folks disproportionately. Think of kids who have a computer at home for their homework, only because their parents found one used.

I keep re-reading information on this, and it never becomes more believable, even though it’s true. Thriftiness, financial responsibility and environmental stewardship could be criminalized. Crazy.

Spread the word, sign the petition, and don’t let it happen.