The past month or so I’ve been doing 3 things to be more environmentally friendly: I’ve started riding my bike or walking to places within about 3 or 4 miles of me. I’ve even taken to riding the bus, something it’s taken me 15 years of living in Los Angeles to do. And I’m turning into my mom and recycling my stories, telling them repeatedly to people who’ve heard them before. Stop me if I’ve already told you this…
I usually drive everywhere. I live in Los Angeles, I mean, come on, that’s what we do. But I’ve really enjoyed leaving the car at home. I’ve even enjoyed riding the bus, which is something I haven’t done since I lived in San Francisco as a kid. Back then I rode the bus everywhere and I liked it. You never see as much of your community as you do when you’re walking through it. And riding the bus gives you time and opportunity to observe people, which is really fun.
I’m not doing this primarily to be green. I spend most of my time working in offices for long hours and I’m looking for ways to stay in shape and walking and riding my bike gives me that. Plus, a good long walk, as I had last Thursday night when I walked 4 miles home from a friend’s show, gives you a lot of great thinking time.
Last week I wrote about what a fantastic and inspirational person my grandpa is. Something I didn’t mention about him is that he is so cool that he was being green before it was cool. He and my grandma used to keep a compost pile in their backyard and they’d separate their trash – it was either for the pile, for the garbage men or for the fire. They’d burn what they could and only send things that could neither be composted or burned to the landfill. I used to think he and grandma were weird for that. We just put all of our trash out on the curb on garbage day. What did I know? I was only 11. I thought that it was a huge waste of time to store trash on your land when the guys would come in their big truck and pick it all up once a week.
Now I know better. Last year I spent a good chunk of time (time I’ll never get back, thank you very much) working on a reality show called Battleground Earth. I won’t bore you with the details – you either worked on the show or you missed it on Discovery’s Planet Green. Suffice it to say that the premise of the show was about being more eco-friendly. Part of my job (when I wasn’t virtually diapering and burping the overprivileged executives I tended to) was to research ways to be more environmentally responsible and then write them into witty little bite sized chunks either for celebrities to say on camera or to be little video pop ups on screen. So I learned a lot about how to be environmental.
Most of what I used on the show are the same easy nuggets that everyone on TV is feeding us, and I practice some of them – I use my own grocery bags, I only do laundry in cold water and I turn off all the lights when not in use.
But I’m slow to become fully integrated. Part of me is a crusty little old man who wonders, “What’s wrong with the way we did things when I was a young whippersnapper?” And some things aren’t practical for everyone. I can’t compost or burn trash where I live because I rent. I don’t take navy style showers* because a shower is one of my favorite luxuries. But I have stopped drinking bottled water. Instead I have my own (safe) plastic water sports bottle that I take with me everywhere.
I’d like to think that I’m practicing my environmentalism in moderation. I’m working up to more and adding green behavior as I go. I feel as if I’m doing something and that’s a good start. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even take navy showers. As for the recycling of stories just like my mom does it, well, that’s a good way to clear the air. At least that’s what I keep telling myself over and over.
* Navy showers: You jump in, turn the water on, get yourself all wet then turn off the water, soap up, wash wash wash, then turn on the water and rinse off quickly, turn the water off and jump out.