Thursday, January 29, 2009

We are so messed up

A good friend of mine recently sent me a few links. They both are so sad and give such a vivid picture of everything that is so fucked up in this world, especially the United States.

This one, The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard, details all problems with American consumption. It is so crazy.

Leonard basically takes the viewer through the process of production through disposal and describes what is wrong with each step. Although every single thing she says made total sense and made me question my consumption and disposal of stuff, it also - because of all the problems with the system - made me completely sick and discouraged that this will never change.

Leonard mentions this toward the end. But she says the people who don't believe the system can change are the people who don't want it to change. They are happy with how the system currently operates and don't understand, don't believe or don't care about the consequences.

I am not this person. I promise I am not this person. I try to have hope that the system can change. I would do as much as possible to assist in this change. However, I feel that for a 23-year-old female, I am fairly average - possibly even above. I mean I work in a field that revolves around green practices. So I hear about a lot of green behaviors. I have reusable grocery bags. I buy remanufactured cartridges. I don't use paper plates and I try to conserve my use of paper towels. I use both sides of my paper and I just requested recycle bins for my home.

But when I look at some of these things individually, I am really not that green. I mean I forget my reusable grocery bags probably 60 percent of the time. I print on both sides of my paper, yes, but then I simply throw away that paper. Sometimes I tear off three paper towels, proceed to dry my hands and then realize that I just used three paper towels to dry my hands. And I just barely requested recycle bins, bins that won't arrive for another six more weeks because there is a waiting list. And although I know I'll feel better about using them once they are here, I also know that that system is flawed. A couple examples of the defects in the system: Recycling paper often results in bleaching, which just pollutes the air more. Even though we are asked to separate our plastics, paper and glass, there have been many reports that our trash men simply dump it in the same trash container. Pen and Teller do a whole Bull Shit episode on this (A preview of "Recycling" can be found here).

One of the fundamental reasons I have a hard time believing this system can change is not because I don't have faith in the people. I simply don't have faith in the government. Again, maybe this makes me a pessimist, in fact I'm sure I am a pessimist, but even with a new president who has a lot of hope, I don't believe much will change. I wish I believed that. I wish things would be different. And honestly, I believe that Obama wishes things would be different and that he could change things, but the truth, or what I believe to be the truth, is that Obama is not in charge of this country. Special interest groups, or corporations, rule this country. And they are so fucking greedy that nothing will change. Everything will remain exactly the same.

Now I will continue to do my part. And I will strive to remember my grocery bags more often. And I will continue to have hope because I know its the right thing to do. And I know that even a small change is a change.

One of Pen and Teller's main points in their episode is that recycling, as ineffective as the system may be, still makes people feel good. It makes them feel like contributing, active citizens and sometimes, just sometimes, that attitude alone triggers change in and of itself. So I guess that, most of all, is what I will hope for!

As a side note, the other link my fine friend sent me is a preview of the documentary Flow. The two-plus minute trailer is enough to scare the shit out of anyone, so I'm sure the full-length film is unbelievable. I have requested it on Netflix and will probably have much to say and blog about then. Until then ... get green and stop buying and throwing away stuff!

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