Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Going Green?

I wish that we knew what was really going on... For every story I heard about greenhouse gas emissions being deadly and ruining the atmosphere and environment, I hear of another from scientists saying it is not true. What are we supposed to think? I live in a province that is heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry and the one next door is heavily reliant on the coal industry.. But it is also a way of life here that is different than other places. I was in a discussion with someone who lives in a city in the Maritimes. He was telling me that people need to start driving small cars, go for the small hybrids, etc etc. I listened for awhile and then asked him if he has ever been to Alberta, especially in the winter. No, he has not. Okay.. so he has not seen how difficult it can be to drive here 6 months or so of the year (although right now it is almost December and my city has not had snow yet lol!). He also does not realize how remote many of the farms are. Try driving a small car on those roads! It is a very different way of life out here. Trucks have been on the road here since they were first made. It was probably a godsend for people who were not able to travel far. It is also a good 3 hours in each direction to reach the next city and the towns in between are tiny. When I drive out of my city, the next place with any sort of populace is an hour away. There are trucks of all shapes and sizes everywhere you look. I wonder what would happen if the laws got so tight, everyone had to downsize.

Oil and gas companies have fleets of trucks for their workers. The last time I checked, you couldn't haul around a 500+lb tool box in the back of your Smart Car, or any car for that matter. My bf is a truck driver and the locations he visits each day are so remote, he can barely find them (oil wells in the middle of farmer's fields). He HAS to drive a truck. So,,, I just wonder what would happen. I hear so many people saying we just have to 'adapt' and change our thinking. Well that is a different story when you live in a city or a highly populated area where everything is within decent driving distance.

There is also another little matter - with the size of cars, and the gigantic size of car seats we have to pack our children into these days, we cannot get all three kids in the back seat together in most cars. I know, that might sound silly, but I have 2 kids in car seats/booster seats and another that is not old enough by law to sit in the front. In our truck, they fit in just perfectly. In any car, it is a disaster trying to get them in without the oldest being squashed up against the door. In fact, in my mother's compact car, it is completely impossible. She cannot travel with all three kids until the oldest turns 12 and then he can sit in the front, but I can't go with them because I can't fit in the back with the 2 seats either. It IS something to think about. People are having larger families again, almost everyone I know has at least 3. The laws are different now than when us adults were children. Half the time, there wasn't a seatbelt in the back at all, let alone not need a car seat after infancy. Now my daughter is 6 but is light so still has to be in a booster, crammed next to her baby brother. If trucks were phased out for personal use (which MANY green people want!), and we had to buy a car, it would be pretty hard to travel anywhere together - let alone with the doggie too. It's just something to think about. It might look good on paper to say it will cut xxx amount of emissions and Save The Planet - but I don't think people really consider what that means.

I also note that a lot of the big voices for Greener Times travel in their jets or big vehicles. What is that all about? I think if you're going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. Buy clothing that was not made in a factory using coal or oil, and wasn't transported to the shops in a big semi belching fumes all over the place. Don't drive to the store in your Escalade, you should walk or take the bus. YEAH RIGHT. As if that would happen. That kind of thing drives me crazy. That of course is only some people - many are very supportive of Going Green in their lives and actually do what they say others should do. But the ones I see on television are quite hypocritical, in my opinion.

We do what we can, more than many do. We have a huge section of the basement filled with cardboard, bottles, milk jugs, newspapers... I donate jars, empty paper tubes, and anything else I can think of to the school for crafts. The problem - we have to drag the stuff to recycling bins by ourselves and it is not easy with 3 kids. My bf works 6 or 7 days a week right now, 12-16 hours a day. So the stuff is piling up like crazy. But we do try! I give away clothing instead of chucking it out. I help run a local Freecycle Group to keep things out of the garbage dump. I pour all my cooking grease into a jar and throw it out when it is full instead of dumping it down the sink. I turn the water taps off while brushing my teeth or lathering soap on my hands.. anything I can think of. But yes, then I get in my truck. Why? Because I am not so sure that all the hype about this is true. It is too confusing with so many different reports out there, so many scientists at odds with each other. I heard on the radio that there was some crazy number of scientists disagreeing with the Greenhouse Effect reports - something like 30,000. Maybe even more agree with it, but i have not heard that number so I cannot report on that. But what is going on? Is it good or bad? Is it having an effect or not?

I had read that part of the autobailout plan states that some certain kinds of vehicles can no longer be made if they accept the money. Is that true? I don't know. But it would not surprise me. Some of those people are talking about green green green, hybrid hybrid hybrid. But are they driving one themselves? Not that I have seen or heard yet. I'm sorry but that is mental. Be an example to people you are trying to convince, don't be a hypocrite and climb into your Lexus after your green speech. That is ridiculous, I'm sorry.

Do they have a messy basement filled with piles of recyclable items, do they go to the mall parking lot and shove everything into the big bins with everyone else? I hope they do. Why don't they try concentrating on better community programs for helping people WANT to recycle? My basement is a disaster right now. I would love it if once a month a truck came and I could put all that crap outside for them. But all we have here is a weekly pickup of things like grass and leaves. Everything else has to be done by us. When I lived in Germany over a decade ago, we had 4 or 5 different bins to put stuff in. At the time I thought it was a pain in the arse to sort it all, but now I wish we had that here. I had bins there for organic debris, paper, plastic, glass, and 'other'. They were picked up regularly and it did get confusing sometimes or icky if you missed the organic pick up day lol. But that was about the only 'problem' - pulling the bins out on time, and a smelly organic one. Big whoop. I would much rather have that now but all letters to the city either get ignored or get the standard 'there are no plans for that at this time'. Gee thanks. Tell us to be Green but make it next to impossible to actually DO it. What exactly are the priorities? Sit around telling everyone what to do and make them feel guilty for driving a truck or not recycling, but not lend a hand? Instead in my city, multiple millions were spent on a Theatre that I have never been to, and more millions spent on deciding where they want to put the new hockey arena. Oh boy, that is important! Let's spend 6 million dollars investigating where to put it, and not put a single dime into a recycling program. Talk about crazy.

I saw something kinda cool on the news last night. It showed some new 'lotto' machines in Singapore. But instead of putting in money, people can put in their old pop cans and they get a 'spin' and a chance to win things, win coupons to local stores, etc. I thought that was pretty cool! With stores donating items or coupons, it involves the community and gives people somewhere to pop their cans instead of a garbage can, and have some fun.

I am on the parent council at my kids' school and we recently tried to get some Green Bins becasue right now, all the recycling is being piled into a storage room and only emptied once a month, and YUCK it reaks (juice boxes). But the province said No because we don't have enough 'room' for the bins to be picked up and emptied. Make some room! Help the school move a fence or talk to the city about allowing two more bins next to the giant BFI garbage ones.. something?? But no. Instead it is again left up to volunteers who go in to sort it all out and arrange for pickup and carry everything out box after box. The grade 4 kids work hard to collect all those recycling items from each room every single day, but the province won't help a school fund Green Bins. What are the priorities again? I forget. Oh yeah - guilt everyone into becoming more green but don't lift a finger to help. Last year we found out that a vechile company was giving away 200 Green Bins to schools in Alberta (or Western Canada, I forget) but again, we could not do it because the board said No. Other groups are trying to help, why isn't the government?

And don't even get me started on the other topic I bitch about a lot - telling people that their kids are too fat, there are too many obese people in Canada and the US - but then not giving a crap that natural foods are so much more expensive. Now that I have a family of 5, it is cheaper to make it all from scratch. But when I was on my own with 2 kids, it was cheaper to eat fast food (not to mention easier). Whenever I bought a lot of meats and veggies and fruit, my bill was much much higher. Now they govt is thinking about banning fast food ads to slow down childhood obesity... How is that going to work? People know mcdonald's is down the road and they can feed their kid for 4 bucks. Do they need an ad to show them that? Are kids going to forget about Burger King when they don't see it on tv anymore? I am not sure... their parents already know about it, older siblings already know about it... so how about putting some money into making REAL food more affordable? I swear flour has doubled in price over the past few years. Honey is extorionate (I used to use that for sweetening food instead of white sugar). Meat for my family costs about $15 a day if I want good stuff, $10 if I cheap out. That is a LOT of money. I don't buy many pre packaged things unless you count french fries and pasta... and my bill is about $200 a WEEK. That is not including baby food, that is just our food. Wow. When I was a teen, my dad got $2000 cash in his bank each month for pay and he managed to pay ALL the bills and groceries (mom did not work) and feed a family of 4. I spend half that on just groceries alone only 15 years later. Is that right? Is that okay to happen? Sure we make more money now so maybe proportionately it is 'the same' but it just seems unreal to me. I can buy prepackaged meals for supper for each of us every day for less than it costs to buy the meat alone. That is sad. I don't buy those meals because I think they taste horrible and I can make more from scratch, proportion-wise, but the point is - the high cost of real food is a deterrant for people to eat healthier. It really is.

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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