February 9, 2008

Public Service Announcement

"Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do." -Wendell Berry
Thought this was an interesting message during the current political mumble-jumble, and excellent food-for-thought in reminding us to do our part in doing right by Nature.

We're trying our best to do just that, by doing a few new things this year, and possibly by also encouraging others, too! Hopefully most of our friends & family already do their part, (I know many of them do) but if not... maybe we can give them an idea or two. I have this blog to use for sharing, so here is my public service announcement :)

Our fairly big family creates a lot of refuse... but surprisingly, we've never had a lot of "garbage." In fact, we have very little of it, greatly because we've always been avid recyclers. You can recycle almost everything!! (and locally you can bring it righ to our Cub Foods parking lot EVERY Saturday between 9-noon & they even help you unload it!)
We've also composted for many years now, which is simple to do. It's funny to me that some places & people are making recycling & composting seem so "new age" when it's really just plain old back to basics. I've been recycling my whole life; my Dad always drank Coca-Cola when I was little, & smashing pop cans in the basement was the first way us kids made money.
Whatever the reason, though... to be trendy, or old fashioned & practical, or just because you care about the future of the environment, or the wastefullness of society, its all good!
What we're trying to be more careful about now, is how much & what we bring in; packaging, extra gadgets & gizmos for Christmas, etc... Even though all that plastic is recyclable, it is still a petroleum based product, which is better off avoided when possible.
One new little thing we're doing is using our own re-usable grocery bags these days, instead of those awful plastic ones the stores give you. I've heard those things take over 20 years to break down, and they're being found floating in our oceans. That's not good to hear, but I also hear that some countries are outlawing them altogether, and that is good. I really like the idea of everyone using reusable bags. I noticed when I was at IKEA the other day that they are now charging for each bag you use, to encourage you not to use them. Good idea. This is something we can all do!

Other things our household has been doing: We've been gradually switching out our old lighbulbs to the compact flourescent type, which use significantly less energy, and we replaced our kitchen faucet which had had a slow drip if it wasn't adjusted just right.
Something great I learned a while back is that not only can you ask to be put on the "Do not Call" list, but also the "Do Not Send" list! We used to get piles of junk mail, mostly pre-approved credit card garbage that we weren't interested in. We'd get half a dozen or more a week just from Capital One, alone. Stopping the junk mail wastes far less, and is less of a nuisance to my paper shuffling.

An area I confess I've been slower to get better at is cleaning products. I admit I've been called "Clean Freak" and I'm kind of into trying to kill germs. Here, too, though, we can get back to basics... I'm trying not to use the nasty chemicals. Vinegar, baking soda, & simple soap & water are some of the best cleaners there are. Simple... baby and family friendly... & natural.

Anyway, just a few small things we're doing here. These are easy things anyone can do.
I thought those Wendell Berry words were well worth passing on and giving some consideration to.
We personally have at least FIVE good reasons for wanting to be considerate to Nature...

Beau, 11 months, watching deer in our backyard.


  1. Many good things coming together here in this post...

    (1) The mention of Wendell Berry in the context of the presidency is interesting... because above all others, HE SHOULD BE the President of the US. He would never accept the post though, because he does not believe in the current system of governance (as far as I can tell anyway). An related aside is that St. Olaf College has offered Mr. Berry several honrary degrees, and he has refused them all... presumably because he does not believe in teh current educational system either... if I remember correctly he outlines this in his book The Unsettling of America.

    (2) The great things you are doing in your household... seems like you should be a brochure that we hand out at our MPCA booths. Keep it up and keep spreading the word.

    (3) Doing right by nature, in the midst of this political fracas... difficult task. It's hard to determine who to believe. One interesting note though - I just heard a guy say this: "if Hilary is elected, you can kiss your guns goodbye." HA, HA - it just floors me how easily people polarize things and make this ridiculous statements.... suggesting that if a certain candidate becomes president, he/she will take away hunting rifles, shotguns, etc. That same guy probably voted for Bush, who has a heavy hand in putting us on the road to THIS: http://gisdata.nrri.umn.edu/MNConserve/Groups/land-and-water-habitat-loss-team/documents/crp-expiration/crpexp.pdf

    So if you care about hunting and fishing, should you NOT vote for one candidate based on scare tactics related to gun control... and instead vote for a person who will continue to hold up corn as king, and transform the landscape of MN by prompting the conversion of conservation land to ROW CROP CORN!? Look at that map! The land is going to change... change drastically, and change for the worse.

    Anyway - I enjoyed the post - thanks. Great pic of Beau.

  2. Good words from WB:

  3. Thanks, I looked up the mentioned WB words. Posting a small piece of his address here so others can read it, too. (that last sentence is one to remember.)

    "...the logic of success is radically different from the logic of vocation. The logic of what our society means by “success” supposedly leads you ever upward to any higher-paying job that can be done sitting down. The logic of vocation holds that there is an indispensable justice, to yourself and to others, in doing well the work that you are “called” or prepared by your talents to do.
    And so you must refuse to accept the common delusion that a career is an adequate context for a life. The logic of success insinuates that self-enlargement is your only responsibility, and that any job, any career will be satisfying if you succeed in it. But I can tell you, on the authority of much evidence, that a lot of people highly successful by that logic are painfully dissatisfied. I can tell you further that you cannot live in a career, and that satisfaction can come only from your life. To give satisfaction, your life will have to be lived in a family, a neighborhood, a community, an ecosystem, a watershed, a place, meeting your responsibilities to all those things to which you belong." - Excerpt from 2007 Bellarmine University Commencement Address by Wendell Berry.

  4. The guy is such a good writer, he gives me a chill every time I even glance at his words.