Thursday, May 31, 2012

Act Locally....

My precious Whole Foods double reinforced FREE paper bag:a memento from my trip to  San Francisco in February.

Ironically, SF is where a group of school kids decided to save the environment by  reducing the amount of plastic grocery bags and now most grocers (not Whole Foods) charge for plastic bags, which I find TOTALLY ridiculous, considering the way the amount of packaging on groceries has risen exponentially over the decade. Now they wrap each band aid in plastic, so you ruin ten trying to open one. (Not to mention individually wrapped thin sliced process cheese: 100 percent plastic product?) How does that help the environment? Paper is best I think.

Anyway, most days, while waiting for the News I catch the end of some lifestyle show, with the two Oprah guys. I paid attention to one bit because it featured a woman talking about collectible purses. I like purses, or the idea of same.

I thought she was talking vintage, a la Chanel from 1930's, but no, she was talking NEW purses, as in some fancy 4,000 dollar purse you buy and then keep in the box with price tag, so it becomes collectible. How decadent!

They breezed through a few examples (promoting these brands of course because these tv shows are all about selling stuff) and then walked over to a table with bottles of water. "Water is the new oil," said the woman expert.  Now, THAT caught my attention!

I've written Milk and Water about Montreal City Hall Corruption in 1927, but the eplay is also about water, or more precisely, the human right to fresh clean water.

The play has a discussion between my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Director of City Services in Montreal in the era and my husband's grandfather, Thomas Wells, President of Laurentian Spring Water.

Montreal had the first bottled water company in North America, and it managed to get going because Montreal also had the reputation for having the worst water in North America, despite being an island in the St. Lawrence.

Almost every woman friend I have proselytizes about the necessity of drinking lots and lots of water. They all carry around water bottles. I don't like bottle water, I can taste the plastic and I don't like having to pee all the time (especially in public bathrooms where many women think it's cool to urinate all over the seat, so as to keep their precious bums free of germs.)

I say, "Gee, I never heard about this need to drink and drink water, until they started selling it!"

It may be the advertising writer in me, but I think it's all bullshit. (Of course, I go on and on about the importance of taking omega-3's and sea weed.) Giant islands the size of Madagascar of these bottles are now floating around the oceans. Whenever a cashier wants to charge me for a plastic bag, which I re-use to pick up dog poop (another counter-intuitive practice, environmentally speaking) I want to ask, "BUT you still sell bottled water. Why, if you are so concerned about the planet's health?"

There's so much out there that is BULL HONKEY around health, human health, environmental health.

Take recycling. In my town, all you do is put everything in a blue plastic container and they pick it up. This makes no sense to me. Cat food mixed with paper mixed with margarine. Yuk!

In my sister in law's community, in rural Ontario, her community sends out pages of explicit instructions with respect to recycling. Underlined, in large letters is a statement. "If you don't clean out  bottles and cans and containers, WE MUST PUT IT IN THE LANDFILL." Proving my point, I think.

Of course, washing out every can, bottle and container and removing the label makes no sense either and not only because it takes time and we modern humans are lazy.  Remember, water is the new oil. It takes tonnes of water to clean just a few bottles. And the soap??

Anyway, I've taken to composting this past year and our throw away garbage is seriously reduced. But the composter is overloaded. Nothing is decaying, not quickly anyway.

What I have learned from this exercise is how de-skilled I am at economizing in the kitchen. (No surprise!) My composting pot is filled in no time. I waste so much vegetable material. In restaurants they put decaying veggies in a soup.  I've tried that, but ICK.  Still, THAT is something I can work on!

Start locally. And don't think too globally, because the Alice in Wonderland illogic of it all will make your head spin!

Maybe I'll go back and read Nella Last's Peace, about a housewife in England in the austerity period Post War. She could make 10 good meals out of one fish head. She had no choice. Meat rations were miniscule in England in 48. (No wonder my Dad came back here to live.)

In 1967, they had Expo 67 in Montreal. I recall one exhibit very well. Man and the Community. It had little wooden models of people by some well known artist. In one work, a couple lazed on a bed while all their needs rotated around them on a conveyor belt. "Laziness is the Cause of all Progress."  That's what it said. I remember for some reason.

Laziness is also the cause of all de-skilling. If the need to make 10 good meals out of one fish head ever returns, will we be able to invoke our inner grand mother and  do it? Doubt it.  From what I hear, only the Cubans will have the necessary skills, as they've been practicing for a while.

Um. Coffee and Scallion Soup. The filter paper is full of dioxins I think.  They say coffee is good for you now. I drink a lot. But apparently the drip machines are toxic, the plastic in the piping leeches into the hot coffee. Must buy a French Press! Next time my drip machine breaks, which will be any day as they are built to last about 10 minutes...And how is that good for the planet, built in obsolescence?