Did we do Earth Day? Yes and no.
I’m a sort of Christian, conservative, penny-pinching type of not-quite-environmentalist.
I try to be responsible about what I do in regards to the environment, because I believe God gave man stewardship over the earth, which means we are to take good care of it, improve it, etc. Not because I think spotted owls are more important than people.
I dry my clothes outside on a line because it means I don’t have to pay for as much electricity to run the dryer for a full cycle. Granted, that didn’t work too well today; I had to run outside to rescue two different loads of wash from sudden showers because of erratic weather.
My kids all wore cloth diapers because plastic diapers are expensive and take forever to break down in the landfill. (Guys, skip this parenthetical… ok, gone?… About to “go cloth” myself, for the same reasons. Plus, plastic chaffes and some people insist that the chemicals in plastic pads exacerbate all those nasty menstrual symptoms. See here for full instructions. (Because, as I said, I’m a cheap environmentalist, and I won’t pay fifteen dollars and up for one of these things.))
I’m all for saving the Chesapeake Bay… because it means more blue crabs for everyone. My all-time favorite environmental commercial opens talking about excess lawn fertilizer run-off and the negative effects on crab population. “No crab should die like this,” says the voiceover, “They should die drenched in tasty butter!”
I view ethanol not as a cure-all, but as a stupid emotion-driven mistake. Especially since 10% ethanol in my gas seems to have dropped my mileage by 8%. And corn is one of the worst crops around for “organic” farming; it is very (artificial) fertilizer intensive, especially as grown by large farms. “Eeek! Eeek! We must do something! Forget research, just do something now!” And, of course, corn for fuel meant less corn for people (and subsequent world-wide food riots), which bothers me, even if it doesn’t bother some environmentalists, who seem to think that the world would be better off without people at all.
I don’t use pesticides unless I absolutely have to because I don’t want that kind of stuff around my kids. And, again, it’s expensive; I’d rather use my compost to try to grow healthy plants, which stand up to insects better, anyways. Plus, I appreciate the song birds and fireflies. If it comes down to the birds or my kids, however, kids win.
I don’t do organic, because it often doesn’t mean much, since the terms are not regulated in all sectors of farming. But I do keep a vegetable garden; I can verify what I did to the plants! I’m trying to be better about keeping it all under cultivation this year, instead of giving up on sections when it gets too hot.
I would love to have solar panels, but I won’t pay tens of thousands of dollars for something that won’t cover all of my electrical needs. Now, one of the reasons I’d love to have them is for when the electrical grid goes out (around here, normally because of hurricanes).
On another in-case-of-hurricanes-or-end-of-society-as-we-know-it, we did build a solar oven.
Ta da! (photo taken before last reflective panel inside the box was done, since that was middle child’s panel, and doing it without his assistance would result in a disappointed fit)
One old moving box from the far corner of the attic, some tin foil, a pyrex bowl, and a Paula Dean cast iron casserole (on sale at a local close-out chain because of the close-out of Linens-N-Things, which carried her stuff). I wanted a cast iron casserole for camping cooking, anyways, and I already had everything else around the house.
I’ll update this tomorrow after we get to test it (it was too stormy today). The kids think it’s kinda weird. I don’t think they actually believe it will cook anything. They’re lobbying heavily for the test recipe being brownies. I’m thinking this might be a great way to force myself to actually think about dinner ahead of time, avoiding that four o’clock panic of, “Oops! What the heck can I whip up for dinner?!?”
The theory is, you put the solar oven in the sun, the pyrex bowl helps insulate the cast iron casserole, and all those tinfoil panels focus the sun on the pot (the front flap will be adjusted to focus the sun). This is a very simple one; most seem to be a more complex shape. I first heard of solar ovens in connection with charity work in Africa, where, of course wood for fuel is both in desperately short supply and going out of town or the refugee camp to find it can get you killed. With these ovens, made with whatever is on hand, women don’t have to risk going out to find wood. They can also be used to pasteurize water, another advantage in areas of Africa that don’t have safe drinking water.
So, it’s kind of a saving energy, don’t want the oven on in the summertime, hey kids you should appreciate how hard things are in Africa and other war-torn areas, maybe we’ll take it camping, darn it I’m going to cook brownies next hurricane just because I can (it’s usually nice and sunny after the hurricane blows through), gee I want to see this thing work sort of project.
As for Earth Day, I wouldn’t go near most of the usual end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it stuff. I don’t think we should tank the economy (further) for alleged human-caused climate change. Saving spotted owls and the rainforest is great, but we have to find ways for humans and animals to share space, not just ways to remove people from the environment. I love recycling and pestered people at the Academy to put their cans in the recycling bin instead of the trash, but I think we’ve lost view of the idea that you’re supposed to do something with the cans after they make it into the bin (i.e. not send them to the trash heap, which is what often happens when the disposal company can’t sell them).
And, above all, I do not see nature as an end in itself. People are an end in themselves. Nature is something we should treasure and appreciate, but not worship.
I have a religion, thanks. I don’t worship the earth or anything on it. I worship the Creator.