How my contribution killed the family

After you die

(3 min 30 seconds to read)

I park the car in the lot and get out. Almost forgot, I reach back and grab the large bag that’s stuffed to the stretching point, but it’s light as air and it swings in my arm easily as I walk.

I enter the grocery store and there it is. My friend had been right. There was a large bin marked “Recycle plastic bags”. I put my collection of plastic into the bin. Plastic bags didn’t get recycled by my city’s recycling program, so I had to find this alternative.

I use plastic every day, but I recycle, so I thought it was ok. But recycling costs something more than money: It costs energy. The recycling process needs electricity to run, so we burn coal to not hurt the environment so much. In the end, is the environment better off? I don’t know.

Do I need to use so much plastic? No. But it would require some effort to find food that didn’t come packaged in plastic. And I could do it. We all could. Otherwise, we’re creating a plastic world. Plastic is in our waterways and our oceans. And it’s being found in fish…  after it blocks up their intestines or chokes them.

We can probably exist with less ocean and fresh water. When drinking water becomes limited, we would ration it, and we could live.  We could suffer along with an ecosystem whose water cycle is choked by contamination and overwhelmed by islands of algae feeding  off our waste water. We would survive, but not by today’s consumption levels. The current population won’t survive with a water cycle being overwhelmed by our use.

Imagine a future where we’ve created gigantic water ships to clean our planet’s water…after our environment becomes so polluted that it cannot be ignored. The ships are constructed like whales, wide-mouthed to scoop up the tons of floating plastic debris. And inside these large machines the plastic will be processed, boxed into plastic packages to be melted down and recycled when they return.

Our technology might save our children. Or maybe they won’t need saved. Maybe our technology will save our grandchildren, or their children. Maybe it will keep our Earth clean and habitable. The beautiful heaven we’ve forgotten about.

Or else our technology will find the energy source, create the outer space habitats, and transport us to a new residence, away from our natural home. Maybe on Mars or some giant rotating space station. If we can grow an Earth habitat in these places it will be wondrous. And if not, we can live in cells, stark and sterile, but we will at least be surviving, and better than dying on this planet. The rich people might be privileged to have their cells decorated by fake plastic plants, colored green as a reminder of our original home.

Either way, we will adapt. Because that is what we do.

Until then, I continue to collect my plastic and take it to be recycled. Why? Because it’s the least I can do. Or I could get more science education, or lead others who already have it, and try to develop the tech that will make more sustainable consumption, with easy energy from the sun, or giant water ships that eat plastic.

All our contributions kill the family. Our contributions of plastic, thrown away daily to accumulate somewhere. The piles of it grow and grow, day after day, to be received by our future family: The unseen family, because humanity will survive, however small and in whatever sad conditions.

And if I do nothing, then I’m not being accountable as a member of our society, as an individual of the world. A world that is heaven on earth, missed right before our eyes, until  it is truly missed, because it is gone.

Follow me and I will take you away from the everyday.

Please feel free to pass this along if you think others would enjoy it.


The best way to overcome frustration

pouting girl

If you are angry or in pain, separate yourself from anger and pain and watch them. Externalization is the first step to liberation. Step away and look.

The physical events will go on happening, but BY THEMSELVES THEY HAVE NO IMPORTANCE.

It is the mind alone that matters. Whatever happens, you cannot kick and scream in an airline office or in a bank. Society does not allow it. If you do not like their ways, or are not prepared to endure them, don’t fly or carry money. Walk, and if you cannot walk, don’t travel.

If you deal with society you must accept its ways, for its ways are your ways. Your needs and demands have created them. Your desires are so complex and contradictory — no wonder the society you create is also complex and contradictory.

-Nisargadatta Majaraj

“Yea, but we do.”

I was in the gym the other day and there were weights all over the place, but they weren’t on any racks. Some dumbells were strewn on the floor and the barbells were left on the bars. I arranged the weights that I needed, racking some to make room for the weight I wanted, and I did my exercises. When I was done, I started to put the weights back, but I hesitated, thinking, “Why should I? No one else did.” Then I thought of Erik.

Erik is one of my most interesting friends. He is a writer, which might explain why he was so interesting. He likes Goth clubs, but he always seemed to be an outsider, like he was researching a book he was writing. He dresses their way, he likes the same music, and he is highly tolerant of their unique lifestyle. But Erik isn’t angry at anyone. In fact, he likes everyone. His smile literally beams as shiny as his shaved head and black combat boots. I like Erik because he simply does his thing, with adventurous heart and a thinking mind. I visited him soon after he had moved to Las Vegas and we found ourselves in his gym.

We did bench press and the weights were not racked. We arranged the weight for ourselves and did our sets, taking turns until I finished the last set. Erik started putting the weights away, and I said, “Erik, let’s leave them. Other people didn’t put their weights away.” Erik didn’t look up as he continued pulling off barbells, “Yea, but we do.”

I thought about this a few days ago, although I’d shrugged it off at the time and helped him begrudgingly. I thought about how easy it is to pass up doing the right thing. Our actions are lost in anonymity… all of us shop at the big superstores which use greeters now as they try to replicate the feeling of the mom and pop shops that they (and us) are putting out of business. We buy things made in the China because it would require serious effort to go without that item or find an alternative to it that was made here. It’s easy to keep our money and retirement accounts with the Wall St banks after they defrauded people, because everyone else is. What difference does it make when there are so many people out there doing the same thing?

The difference is because it’s wrong.

So I returned my weights to the rack. No biggie, I know. And I’m only one person. But I’m part of a larger environment, and if I don’t think about that, and more importantly, if I don’t do something about it, then I am part of the problem. Other people may not do anything, but Erik’s words are still strong in my head:

“Yea, but we do.”

Food is more than fuel

On my way home last week I stopped at Chipotle, a restaurant famous for its burritos. After I got my food, I made my way home, and I passed a Firehouse Subs restaurant, a McDonald’s, a Taco Bell, and a Burger King. The drive-thrus were lined with cars with people waiting for their own quick meals. At home, I ate the burrito, my hunger driving me past savoring the taste to get the food in my stomach. Afterwards, I grabbed a bag of banana chips, and as I snacked, I looked at the ingredients.  The first ingredient read, “Bananas”. The last one read “Banana flavor”. As I sat there on my couch, I felt full and satisfied, and ready to tackle my chores, but I didn’t feel good. Why?

Although the food was real, I didn’t know what I’d eaten

The restaurant workers were nice enough. The cashier even talked to me beyond the usual banter, but all I did was hand over my credit card. A quick swipe and I was done. I had eaten alone, speaking to no one.  I had finished quickly, but usually I am the slowest eater in the dinner party. I chew and talk, while others chew and swallow.

I like picking parsley from my garden and chopping it on my cutting board

From my couch, I looked out my window, and saw the parsley growing in my garden. I liked hearing it crunch under my knife, and suddenly smelling its fresh and pleasant fragrance. I would mix it into the noodles that I had cooked, and the aroma of the tomato sauce and capers and parsley danced together into my nose. I would look at what I’d made, swirl a bite onto my fork, and chew it. It was a good experience. It made me happy.

I knew it would be a long time before I’d have the full and satisfied feeling of a restaurant burrito and  bananas with banana flavoring.

And that was ok by me.