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Earth Day

So who says actors aren’t worth anything?

Today, April 22nd, we celebrate Earth Day. The first celebration of Earth Day was in 1970, in the US. Since then, it has been called the “largest secular holiday in the world;” celebrated in at least 175 countries, by more than half a billion people across the world.

What does that have to do with actors, you ask. Well, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 because that was the birthday of Eddie Albert, an actor who did alot of work with environmental causes and groups before it was cool to be green.

Incidentally, April 22 is also Lenin’s birthday, which prolly explains why some people still insist that environmentalists are actually communists in green-face. Stupid, that. You don’t have to be communist to care about the planet.

Anyway, enough history. Let’s talk about now.

When i was in Taiwan awhile back, I was struck by a question that the cashier at a 7-11 asked me. “You want a bag?” There I was, holding a six-pack of coke, several bags of chips, shampoo, a toothbrush and other unmentionables, and I was like “ya think?”

The guy looked at me, then at my huge purse, then back at me with a look of disgust. He shrugged and mad a big show of taking back a few coins from the change he had given me. I was paying for the plastic bag! Me and my ‘entitled’ brain could barely articulate my outrage at being made to pay for something I took for granted at home. Good thing too, that a bit of lock-jaw had prevented me from sticking my foot in my mouth because i quickly realized what was happening. I was being made to take personal responsibility for something that, in all likelihood, was going to end up killing a turtle somewhere because the poor thing thought it was a jellyfish.

When I got back to my hotel room, I folded up that plastic bag like a good earth-citizen and tucked it away for recycling. That bag is now hanging on my wall, reminding me not to forget that I did something important.

Yeah. It’s that important.

The raw material of plastic bags is oil. Therefore, the more we use plastic bags, the more we waste oil – a non-renewable energy source.The petroleum-based plastic bags take decades to break down, so if they are not recycled they litter. It creates visual pollution: in the streets, on the beaches etc. Also, they can clog roadside drains, which could cause street flooding during heavy rainfall. Plastic bags can be recycled but it rarely happens: according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, only 1% of plastic bags were recycled in 2000, against twenty percent for paper bags.They endanger wildlife and particularly sea life such as sea turtles and dolphins which can die of entanglement, suffocation, and ingestion.

See what I mean about turtles?

When I got back, I was on fire with this idea of making cheap canvass bags and marketing them as replacements for plastic bags. That lasted all of three days. On the fourth day of my return, I had to go grocery shopping with my mom and I saw that they had this green bag made of canvass – or something like it. Good for the environment, lousy for my budding entrepreneurial spirit.

I bugged my mom to get one, but she refused. Among other things, she wanted the plastic so we could have garbage bags. Recycling mom! So I shut up about it. But then she said something else. “Besides, they look horrendous.”

AHA (I’d like to think that the light that went on over my head used an energy saving bulb and was powered by a renewable power source)! That would be my entry point. If ya can’t appeal to the environmentalist soul, appeal to the hedonistic beast. I was going to make my canvass bags tres chic.

Still working on it. I have a bunch of designs and stuff, but no capital, no sewers, and no idea where to get the raw materials. Like I said, it’s a work in progress. And I also like to think its one way of making environmentalism more acceptable to some people at least.

One of the biggest challenges of going green is that it can be so expensive. The older, less earth-friendly ways are cheaper precisely because they’re so exploitative of natural resources. It takes some work – not to mention some special processes – to make things that are eco-friendly or to make processes greener. If enough people were able to convince enough other people that green can be profitable, we will have hurdled one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the re-greening of the planet. Think about it.

So when my bags come out (they’re gonna be called Shop-a-Roos … ya’know? as in kangaROOS … with pouches? but used for shopping?) buy’em. It’ll get me through grad school and save a turtle or two.

Happy Earth Day!

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Filed under: environment, international, musings, pop-culture, society,

3 Responses

  1. green4u says:

    Love the green bag idea. I used to make cool babybags. fun designed canvas is great. Ikea has some fun fabric believe it or not!! I made myself a grocery bag from fabric there the other day.

    http://green4u.wordpress.com

  2. TitanTV says:

    Here at TitanTv, we’re so proud to hear that everyone is chipping in and doing their best to participate in Earth Day 2008. Here is a funny piece we did, while informing people in the streets of New York, how they, too, can have a great April 22nd.

    http://video.titantv.com/content/00010110/video.aspx

  3. Elliot says:

    That’s a cool story…I should find a reminder like that for myself. Seriously, there are so many unexpected ways you can avoid wasting. Even things like credit cards release toxins when buried in landfills — here’s a cute thing on how to recycle them: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/recycled-credit-card-crafts-1281.php.

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