Most of us, especially those who are more environmental conscious have read many articles on ways to recycle and help the environment. Articles also abound on the Internet and the television has their fair share of shows regarding this subject too. However, may of the ideas, which are expressed fall into categories, which are not completely applicable to the modern punk/anarchist/environmentalist.
How do methods of saving gas matter to someone who does not have a car? Would information on how to use less energy running your dishwasher help a person who has never owned one in their life? Many of these little token efforts are designed to ease the guilty conscious of the worst environmental criminals in the world. “We just clear cut four acres of forest to clean the land for our new house, but it is environmental, because it has a low energy use oven that costs five times the normal price.”
Well good for these wealthy people who can afford such things, but as we all know they are the ones wasting more energy and destroying the environment more by they lifestyles, so as much as they would hate to admit it, it does not even come close to evening out.
Why save the Environment?
There are many good reasons to save the environment. Most of these are basic and perhaps obvious, but here is a list, which is different than you would see on the six O’clock news.
- Protect our world and save animals (duh)
- Save my money for me.
- Give as little of my money to major corporations as possible
- Do my part to avoid supporting the systems that start wars.
- Do as much as possible to keep my very existence from being part of the current destruction of our planet.
Anyone can help save the environment and use fewer resources in a cushy safe American way, which does not interfere with their gluttonous lifestyle. There is a sort of false pat on the back going on in this country in regards to the environment. “Look I recycle some of my things on the curbside. I am doing my part.” Is this really true? Sure recycling is better than nothing, but only barely. How did you get that food? Did you drive to the store? How did you cook it? How far was it shipped to get to you? How much of the package was not recycled. If it had meat, how much grain was used? How much forest was chopped down to grow that grain?
These questions could go on and on and do. So thinking that I have done my part and that by throwing the cardboard of my microwave chicken into the recycle bin is making me an environmentalist is a joke. It would be like saying; I am not abusive because I only beat my family Monday through Saturday.
All right that being said, the following is a list of things even the most broke American can do to help avoid damaging the environment. Most of these require a shifting of your paradigm of thought. As contemporary Americans we are led to believe we must live in a certain way and perform certain activities. If we do not do things right, than we are freaks. But since most of the people reading this are probably freaks anyway, let’s work together and destroy these accepted rules in favor of our own.
Non-Traditional Conversationalist hints:
1. Using a washer and dryer
Some time over the last fifty years, we have become conditioned to not only believe that it takes a machine to wash clothes, but that we should also only wear something once before it is washed. Both of these ideas are falsities, but are great examples of how media and culture tricks us into believing something is necessary, even though it has only been available for the briefest sliver of human existence. In other countries such as India, the population considers Americans dirty; for how could a machine possibly get clothes as clean as banging them against a rock?
Think about washing. It takes a hundred gallons to do the average wash. Now these yuppies can buy some energy efficient washer, or talk about making sure they only wash full loads, then go pay a hundred dollars a month to work out in a gym. Screw that. Why use a machine at all. Keep some clothes for work, which probably have to be cleaned more often and some for home and play. If I am tooling around on the weekend, who cares if my shirt has been worn four times?
I can wash a full load of clothes in the sink, without using any electricity. I will use less than a fifth of the water and if anything my clothes are cleaner. Also I am working my muscles without wasting gas in order to drive to gym. Think about what a washing machine does. Is that really cleaning better than a little effort on your part? The answer is a big no and if you hang your clothes instead of using a dryer, then you rock ten fold.
2. Heating your house
Now not everyone is lucky enough to have a wood stove, but if you do, screw natural gas. Sure you might get cold, but who says we always have to be perfectly warm. Hey if it is cold outside, then it might be cold inside. The seasons exist. Deal with it. This idea that we should always be living in a perfect seventy-degree environment is bunk. It makes us artificial and weak to try to ignore nature. As long as our pipes do not freeze we win.
Yes, burning wood releases CO2 into the atmosphere, but in many areas the forest service is burning thousands of cords of wood yearly to protect all those McMansions that are popping up everywhere. So if they were going to burn it anyway, would not it be better for you to gain the energy from it? Where I live I walk out with a backpack and collect wood several times a day. I get strange looks, but if those people can not deal with the fact that I am doing something that humans have been doings for 99.999999999% of our history, then they are brainwashed idiots. If you have a car, collect wood during every trip out of town. Then you are not wasting gas. Last winter I saved roughly a 1,000 dollars by only using my woodstove.
Water is one of the best conductors of heat we know. Are you paying the gas company to heat your water? If you are, then why let all that heated water go to waste? Stop up your tub during your shower and keep the water there. You paid to heat it, use it. It will help heat your bathroom for about three hours, and then you can let it drain. If you want to double up, you could use that water a third time to water plants and the like.
There are all the normal things you have heard, like using good weather stripping and putting plastic over your windows, but I will let you read about those in a different article. Those things cost money. I want to save you money. It takes dedication and maybe a few changes, but doing things like throwing a blanket over a window can make a big difference. Other simple things to keep in mind are things like bookcases or even your old video collection. All of these should be against an outer wall of your living zone. A bookcase is great insulation. Hell even posters and paintings will help keep your heat in. Rearrange your house to use what you have to keep the heat you have from escaping. I place boards over my windows in the winter. There is just enough light to see during the day, what more do I need.
3. Conserving water
There are many ways to conserve water. Not all are possible for everyone. If you have a two year old around, leaving an unflushed toilet might not be an option. Remember though that a gallon of water costs roughly a cent. Saving thirty cents a day from flushing your toilet less may not seem like much, but that is still nine dollars at the end of the month and over a hundred bucks a year.
A) If you can, urinate outside whenever possible.
B) Flush your toilet as little as possible.
C) Save you bath water for watering plants and lawn.
D) Wash your own clothes by hand.
E) Gather rainwater as much as possible.
F) Never drink bottled water; it creates trash for no reason and wastes energy to ship something to you that you already have.
4. Walk everywhere (Biking is okay too)
Sure some people have to commute to work, but I never understood people who buy gas, drive to work, drive home, then drive to gym and shell out more money to exercise because they are now fat. Why not skip the gas and just walk/ride to work. I live five miles from where I work and it only takes me an extra ten minutes of commute time. Compare that to hours in a gym. If I ride all month I save about 40$.
Do not just ride/walk to work. Walk to the store and every place else. It may cost you time, but even a three mile walk would cost you about 60 cents in gas. If you do that twice a week, you will have saved about five bucks that month. Also keep in mind that driving is one of the easiest ways to be busted and fined. Whether it is a DUI or just a 50$ speeding ticket, I would rather keep my own money thank you.
5. Have pets that you can feed yourself
This may seem small, but animals like rats are organic garbage disposals. They will eat any left overs you might have. Animals such as frogs and lizards can live off of grasshoppers and insects you can catch yourself for at least part of the year.
6. Grow your own food
This is an obvious one, but still walking from your back yard into your kitchen does not pollute the earth at all. Even the most environmentally friendly food is a scam if they ship it across the country before it gets to you.
7. Dumpster dive
This is more than a cheap way of getting what you need. Every time you use something that would be in a landfill, instead of buying new, you are helping the earth. For you wood stove owners, loot anything and everything burnable that you can find. Doing this on foot is hard, but of course better. If you have a car, bring something back with you on each trip you make. Even little things like using the envelopes that come in junk mail helps. People that Dumpster dive food, are even taking this up to a new level and Mohawks to you if you can make this happen for yourself.
8. Have fun without using electricity
Again the entire history of man/womankind lived without electricity minis less than a hundred years and I bet you can too. Unplug your television and computer when they are not in use, for they still drain energy when they are plugged in. Books are cheap and can be recycled through friends for decades, if not lifetimes. Games are fun and use little resources. Everything from role playing games to poker, is mostly free environmentally friendly fun. Sex is also a fun activity that does not need electricity unless you are really kinky. Coming home and plopping down in from of the television just makes us fat and boring.
9. Plan your activities around the natural cycles of the Earth
This one might be harder for punk rockers and anarchists, for we tend to like to keep late hours, but remember that this is a recent invention as well. Do you think the majority of the population had candles to light their way at night? When it was night it got dark and you pretty much hung out in the darkness or went to bed. This might be a hard change for many, but we could still work on most tasks, which need to be well lit during the day and keep the use of lights to a minimal at night. We all think the right to have lights on at night is a given, but most likely you are only the third generation in your family who has enjoyed this privilege.
10. Unplug Everything
This is a two-fold suggestion. Firstly, many appliances such as televisions and computers use energy even when they are turned off. If you can set them up for an easy shut of, this can save you a few bucks. Secondly, just stop using things. We in America often think we need things going all the time. The common paradigm is that we are entitled to luxury that no one in the history of mankind has even been afforded. We leave televisions on even when we are not watching. Things like track lighting and gentle fountains are great, but they certainly are not needed. My neighbors leave their outside lights on all night as though they are scared of the boogie man or something. Such acts are stupid and wasteful and the future generations paying five times as much for everything will hate us for it.
11. Change your thought patterns
I think the real reason America is so wasteful is multifold, but a big part of is attitude. You cannot just fill up you recycling box and think you are done. People need to think of the whole picture. How often do you drive? How much electricity do you use? It requires a complete holistic approach to really bring out a real change in your life.
Another part of this attitude is simply considering our base requirements. Why do we always have to be listening to music? Why do we feel dirty if we do not put on freshly washed clothes? Why are people that walk home with groceries thought of as losers? Hell they are the heroes. So many things we have been brought up to take for granted. I deserve to listen to my music while working on my computer. Oh it is hot turn on the fan. Forbid the thought that I should listen to the real world or by slightly hot, just because it is hot outside.
12 Wrapping it all up and making it simple
Is there a common thread that a contemporary counter culture/punk/anarchist can grab hold of? This should not be our only motivation, but the most obvious answer is saving money. Each thing we do to help the environment saves money. Consume less. The less you buy the less you waste. Keep that money for yourselves. The next time it is a few days before you next paycheck and all you have is forty dollars, think about how all the different techniques you used to save money helped get you that money and how if you have not used them, you would be broke. Face it we in America are basically selfish people, so why not use that selfishness in a positive way and try to let it motivate us to waste less.
13. Saving Tally
- Hand washing clothes: Monthly = 4$ Yearly = 50$
- House heating with wood (varies): In cold Months = 100-200 $ Yearly = 1000$
- Saving water: Monthly = 18$ Yearly = 216$
- Avoid driving (varies/assuming 50 miles a week): Monthly = 40$ Yearly = 500$
- Cheap pets: Monthly = 10$ Yearly = 120$
- Grow your own food: Monthly (in warm seasons) = 10$ Yearly = 50$
- Dumpster dive (varies): Monthly = 5$ Yearly = 60$
- Fun without electricity: Monthly = 7$ Yearly = 84$
- Use natural working cycles: Monthly = 4$ Yearly = 50$
- 10. Unplug everything (varies): Monthly = 4$ Yearly = 50$
- 11. Change thought patterns/cultural expectations: Monthly = 10$ Yearly = 120$
Obviously there are a lot of variables here. Someone living in Florida is going to have things a lot different than a person in Montana. City living and country living both have plusses and minuses. Times of the year also alter savings. Living like a crazy wood gathering freak saves me more money in the winter than having a small garden in the summer. Still, below are some general calculations; it would not be hard for you to do better.
Average monthly saving = 212$
Average yearly savings = 2300$
I’m not sure about everyone else out there, but this brings my yearly savings up to more than I take home in any given month. So if I can save a whole month of pay, keep my money away from corporations and keep it for myself, while also helping to save the environment, then I win. One last thing, go out and have fun, most people do not waste too much energy when they are not at home.