No Excuses

Thoughts for the day- Earth Day:

A couple of days ago, I watched a show on the Science Channel about the first moon landing.  It was called First on the Moon: The Untold Story.  In it, I learned that the astronauts inadvertently broke a little control switch that just so happened to be the switch that turned on the engines of the landing module, without which they would not be able to take off from the moon and get home.  So, what happened?  Buzz Aldrin used a ballpoint pen to fix it.  In our modern-day parlance, he MacGyver’d it.

That got me thinking….

If Buzz Aldrin can jimmie the engines on the first lunar landing module with a ballpoint pen (!), then:

  • Replacing your light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, or better yet, LED fixtures?  Simple.  Do it.  No excuses.  Compact fluorescents are readily available in home improvement stores and even local grocery stores.  LED’s are still a bit more of a specialty item right now, but they are worth the search and the price.  They don’t have mercury in them, they don’t get hot, and the life of the bulb is, well, mind-bogglingly long.


  • Recycling?  Easy as 1-2-3. Reducing and Re-using?  Well worth it.

Imagine for a moment that the garbage man didn’t exist….if no one ever came to pick up your trash, what would you do?  Where would it go?  Would you be more inclined to think carefully about your consumption and your disposability habits?  Every piece of plastic wrapping, Styrofoam packaging, tin foil, yogurt cups, milk jugs, diapers, tissues, napkins, and junk mail, plastic bags and baggies, chicken bones, blister packs and plastic-coated twisty-ties, those little thingamajigs that the dry cleaner uses to hold the shirt sleeves together on a freshly pressed shirt (I asked my dry cleaner, by the way, and they will take those back and reuse them.  Same with wire hangers.), the dreaded toy packaging that requires a hacksaw and scissors to open, and the plastic toys in them, etc. etc.  The list goes on and on.  How lucky and totally spoiled we are that all we have to do is put our crap in a bag and someone comes and takes it away!  We don’t even know where it goes, and unfortunately, some people don’t care.

Well, a few guided meditations on how your house, street, and neighborhood would look if trash pickup didn’t exist, and it doesn’t take long to start looking at your throwaways in a whole new light.

My city started a program called single-stream recycling. (  No more separating paper, plastic, glass, metal, whatever.  All of it goes into one single recycle bin.  Easy as a Sunday morning.  What kind of recycling program does your city and/or county participate in?  Not sure?  Ask.  If they don’t have one, demand it.  Or you could kindly explain to your city government at the next council meeting that their mothers don’t work there, and ask them just what century they’re living in.  In the nicest possible way, of course; good manners are important.

  • Washing all your laundry in cold water?  Are you kidding me with this?  A total no-brainer.  Just set it once and never think of it again.   Since I began using cold water and non-chlorine bleach for all my laundry, everything turns out brighter and doesn’t get worn out so fast.  And hey, I’m saving money on my electric bill by reducing the amount of water heating.  I like saving money, don’t you?


  • Turning off the water while brushing your teeth?  Puleeze.  Seriously.  Buzz Aldrin fixed a spaceship with a pen.  A pen, people!  Turn off the water.


  • Bringing your own bags to the grocery store?  A cakewalk.  Save a plastic tree and bring your own bags.  Embarrassed by your mish-mosh of odd-sized tote bags?  Check out these super stylish ones from Baggu.  Here’s my secret tip to making this into a firmly entrenched habit:  keep them in your car at all times.  I’ve also found that one must be quick at the checkout line to keep the bag boys from robotically loading your stuff into the dreaded evil plastic bags.  My reusable bags are the first thing on the conveyor belt, and I announce it to the cashier and the bag boy, “I have my own bags.”  It felt weird at first, and totally flummoxed the baggers.  They had no idea how to fill them properly, but they got the hang of it, and I feel really righteous.

These tips are, of course, the very least that everyone should be doing and can do easily.  These things aren’t hard.  Fixing spaceship engines with a pen – that is, I think, the definition of hard

There are so many more steps we can all take, little by little, to reduce our consumption, save energy, save our money, and stick it to the Man.   It just takes a little bit of conscious effort, and the realization that all the choices we make affect everyone, not just ourselves.

If not us, who?  If not now, when?

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