(Almost) Earth Day Meme

It was Earth Day on April 22rd, and Mike Dunford started a blog meme around this. As you can see, I am (*ahem*) a bit late on this. I was so late that I decided to do this 2 months after Earth day.
Anyway, as I’m so late on this anyway, why not use it as an opportunity to see how we’ve all done over the last few months to make the environment a better place.
Anyway, Mike asked us all about three things we could do to help save the earth. Here’s what he asked, and my responses:

h3. What can you do that’s small?
Buy less kipple. Kipple is a wonderful word, invented by Philip K. Dick, that describes all that little stuff, bric-a-brac and the like, that you end up accumulating. Little toys, pens, spare buttons etc. I have a hoarder’s instinct: all those small plastic boxes (ice cream and the like) are going to come in useful sometime, aren’t they? I also like buying Easter eggs (after Easter, when they’re cheaper) with little toys in them. These are totally useless: the ultimate kipple. So, I will deny my inner child and stop.

Just say no

What can you do that’s big?

This is difficult. Not because I’m great ecologically, but because I’m not sure what I’m doing badly that I can change. I travel by air more than many, but train isn’t an option if I’m traveling from Helsinki to most of the rest of the world. Perhaps I should move to central Europe?
But there is one thing that I could do. The kipple thing again. I should make a point of saying that I don’t want people to buy birthday and christmas presents, but instead use the money for something useful, like providing fresh water to the third world. Or give the money to Amnesty Intracellular.

What can you do that’s better?

I was struggling with this one a bit. Not because I’m perfect environmentally, but because I’m not sure what I’m doing that’s bad. So, I guess the thing to improve is my awareness. I should do a better job of finding out the indirect effects on my environment. But where to start? Any suggestions?

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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7 Responses to (Almost) Earth Day Meme

  1. Eva Amsen says:

    I love kipple! But I wouldn’t say that keeping empty containers or spare buttons is a bad thing for the environment. Maybe it’s good that it’s not in landfill. (No, I can’t argue in favour of your chocolate egg toys.)
    I always keep things for potential art projects that I never start. I also have an entire bicycle wheel on my balcony. The rest of that bike was stolen in 2005, and for the first few months I was keeping the wheel in hopes of recovery of the rest of the bike. Then I kept it in case someone else might need a wheel. Then I just forgot that it was there…

  2. Cath Ennis says:

    Any suggestions?
    Dunno… are you vegetarian? If not, you could eat less meat… I’ve started eating mostly vegetarian lunches, which has cut out a lot of meat, and cook at least one vegetarian dinner per week. Tonight it’s portobello mushroom burgers with spicy hummus, and a salad featuring homegrown lettuce.
    It’s hard to make suggestions without knowing what you’re already doing!

  3. Bob O'Hara says:

    Oh, damn. You want to know all my secrets! I don’t do much special: I don’t have a car, I recycle, i don’t use plastic bags unless I have to, and I try to buy organic.
    The veggie suggestion is a good one. The Beast wasn’t impressed when I mentioned it to him, until I pointed out it would mean more meat for him.

  4. Kristi Vogel says:

    Regarding indirect effects on the environment, you might be interested in this Frontline World segment on the global trade in e-waste. The slideshow on the e-waste slum outside of Accra, in Ghana, is utterly heartbreaking; however, there are also suggestions (a Good Guide) to more responsible methods for recycling electronic equipment on the website.
    Also Frontline World is pretty good about juxtaposing depressing stories with uplifting ones. So if you want to watch a positive segment, I recommend the one that also aired last night, on “Vietnam: Wheels of Change”. Every bit as wonderful as the “Play Pump” story they aired several years ago.
    I’ve cut back on my air travel (average 2 trips per year), and I carry a mug to meetings where coffee, tea, and water are available. I’m gradually xeriscaping my yard, which doesn’t sound like much to most people, but in a semi-arid climate it’s a good option.

  5. Bob O'Hara says:

    bq. I carry a mug to meetings where coffee, tea, and water are available
    Damn, yes. I should do that too, especially when I’m getting coffee from the cafeteria.

  6. Kristi Vogel says:

    Lots of university and research institute cafeterias and coffee shops now sell reusable plastic mugs, in case the serving size is an issue for payment. Those styrofoam cups put my teeth on edge.
    I love kipple, and I’ll admit that I collect it on the rare occasions when I do travel. But the students and other lab visitors get a kick out of the Shakespeare insult magnets I picked up at the British Library recently, and friends’ children certainly enjoy playing with the animal soft toys I have at home.

  7. Henry Gee says:

    Kipple – the bane of my life. Kipple is especially attractive to the dark forces of entropy children, and tends to accumulate wherever Gees Minor and Minima can be found. Every so often a red mist comes over Mrs Gee as she dives into their bedrooms armed with black polythene sacks. Most kipple is, sadly, unrecyclable.
    Here at the Maison Des Girrafes, though, we do what we can. Norfolk County Council recycles almost half the waste it receives; we recycle anything we can, compost most of the rest, and/or feed stuff to the worms. We shred paper and re-use it as animal bedding, which then goes to the compost heap or wormery. We have 700 litres of rainbarrels for watering the garden. We are self-sufficient in eggs and attack guinea-pigs. We eat less meat (and tend to buy it from local sauces sources. We drive a very old gas-guzzling car, which, when manufacturing and shipping costs are taken into account, is much less costly to the planet than scrapping it and buying a hybrid.
    The one thing (okay, there’s more than one thing) I can’t stand about some self-righteous eco-types, apart from the fact that they always have broomhandles protruding from their arses, and that they assume they have some kind of right to lecture us on our habits, is that they say that if you want to save the planet you shouldn’t have pets. Or children. The people who say these things are urban chatterati who have neither, of course.

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