The Environment

I try to be environmentally conscious. Really, I do. When we moved and had to buy appliances, we bought all of the most enegry efficient ones we could afford. We put in flourescent bulbs in almost every room, and installed all new programmable thermostats to keep our energy usage down. We updated our windows and now our house is somewhat of a sealed tomb against the elements. If we could afford to put solar panels on the roof, trust me, we would have done that already too.

On a smaller scale, we get most of our fruit and veg at the Jean-Talon market, buying local whenever we can. We use cloth shopping bags, or opt to not take a bag at all. Of course there are a million other things we do, or could be doing (next year we plan to grow our own veg in the backyard), but some efforts will just have to wait until we move out to our hobby farm/off the grid compound in the mountains (aahhh, dreams).

Anyhow, this whole train of thought started as I was loading the dishwasher (Energy Star rated) and remembered my recent stint with eco-friendly dishwasher detergent. Basically, if you have a kid, then you will instantly recognise the necessity of having a dishwasher. You don’t know how many pre-dishwasher hours I’ve spent sterilising Neptune’s baby bottles and cups in pots of boiling water, when now I just toss them in with a load of dishes. SO…that eco-friendly detergent? It was basically useless. I don’t prescribe to the “wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher” method…it wastes tons of water and defeats the purpose of a DISHWASHER. Just get the big bits of food off and that’s it, in the dishwasher. But the eco-friendly stuff demanded a severe pre-wash of the dishes and I had to ask myself which is worse: using double the amount of hot water or dumping trace amounts of phosphates (we use Cascade, which has 4.5%: 2.2% being considered “phoshate free,” 18% being the most damaging, according to the Gazette) into the water stream? The debate is prominent.

My paranoia escalates as I read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which talks about the industrialisation of food. Already I look at corn differently. We don’t eat processed foods as a general rule (when we’re on tour, we are forced to eat truck-stop crap all the time so when we’re home Murray cooks), we’re vegetarian, and as I mentioned try to eat local produce (even organic foods aren’t as eco-conscious as we think). My friends Bryan and Lis who recommended the book said it would make us bigger food snobs, and they were right! What a true dilemma. My first slip back towards the bottom of the pit happened with coffee beans: social responsibility twarted by flavour.

What happened to the real life notion of the earth as a living organism? Now it’s every person for themselves. Universal misanthrophy is impossible: the earth and its people need each other. Sadly, money and capitalism has obscured our purpose here; it has, in fact, replaced it. North American society has forgone the agrarian ecosystem for success and progress. We are so lost. We would rather drive to Wal-Mart than walk to the General Store, but we’re not even sure why. It’s just been created that way for us. Dependence on petrol has usurped how much an individual is allowed to control their own life.

Oh, wow, this is turning in to one of those beastly posts with a million tangents waiting in the wings. To be continued when I finish reading my book…

4 Replies to “The Environment”

  1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a fantastic read, and I’ve been pushing on all of my friends since I read it myself. It definitely changes how you look at corn, among other things.

    Pollan’s previous work, The Botany of Desire, is a little more dry but also extremely engaging, while much more focused.

    I actually came here to see if I could find an Email address (I couldn’t) — I’m in a pretty serious disagreement with some of the members of my band and found myself asking WWTDD. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask. If you’re at all inclined to provide some advice, I’d really appreciate it. You can email me at

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