Earth Day 2007: Me Versus Al Gore
One of the few good things about being poor is that you have less money to hurt the environment. Studies show that poor, uneducated people have no concept of environmentalism, yet are more likely to conserve and recycle resources.
I see this in our neighborhood. Everyone picks up cans and bottles and discarded furniture and appliances thrown in the street — not because they care for the environment, but to sell or reuse. The other day, there was this man who was pleading with me to let him through our back gate so he could rummage through our dumpster.
Here in the hood, I don’t feel the social pressure to buy new clothes (and throw away my threadbare ones) or to buy a car or to buy new stuff in general, because most everyone around me is without a car or fancy stuff (they’ve never heard of Tivo!) and wears unfashionable clothes.
Al Gore’s annual electrical bill is $30,000, while mine is less than $330 a year. Sure, he buys carbon offsets, and that’s a good thing, but I have at least one thing I can be smug about.
MY ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT: 8 acres
The average ecological footprint in the US is 24 acres per person.
MY CO2 IMPACT: 1.75 tons
The national average is 7.5 tons per year.
Why so low for me? I don’t eat meat that often (although lately I’ve been eating eggs and drinking dairy almost everyday — organic milk! sometimes, organic eggs too). I don’t own a car; I walk a lot and take the bus as much as possible. I live in a tiny shoebox. I no longer fly.
I take very long showers.
I waste too much water washing dishes by hand.
In the winter, I use too much gas (yes, gas!) for heating.
In the summer, I turn on the air conditioner in the afternoon. Excuse: one wall of my place is almost entirely of windows, and it faces west.