Thursday, August 16, 2007

Not My Shade of Green

After two weeks of temperatures hovering in the upper 90s, even crossing into triple digits a time or two, we have been teased all day by grey skies and the taunt of thunder. Earlier this evening the wind picked up, and we opened up the house to a fresh breeze for the first time in days, but then the wind calmed, and the trees grew silent, and the rain didn't come. Now it's sunset, and the thunder is audible again, but Dragonstar says the air doesn't smell like rain yet. So we'll see.

Have you seen this book? I brought it home from the library today, and haven't read it all the way through, but I already I know I hate it. It's an exasperating rehash of the same well-intentioned save-the-planet advice we've been hearing for decades: recycle your plastics, compost your coffee grounds, drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, don't waste water, buy food at farmers markets. You'd think we'd have this stuff down cold by now.

But more exasperating than the recycled advice on carpooling are the assumptions the authors make about how we live our lives, and the utter omission of all of the options we have in that regard. Real options, not paper-or-plastic pseudo-choices.

There is an entire section on entertainment, for example, that addresses battery consumption and music downloads and the disposal of obsolete cds and electronics, but offers not a single sentence about making our own entertainment -- sitting around with guitars, or a deck of cards, or a pile of art supplies -- which are all far "greener" than recycling used batteries from the Gameboy.

In the "shopping" section, the reader is encouraged to buy organic baby food in reusable glass jars. No mention that buying special "baby food" is an unnecessary expense, and that avocados and bananas come in their own biodegradable wrappers and mash in seconds to perfect baby puree.

And finally, there is a section on buying school supplies, which of course offers no sidebar about alternatives to school that don't involve stuffing a backpack full of new stuff every fall. And how green is the average school building, anyway?

Well, so. I brought the thing home. My exasperation is my own fault. But I also brought home a brand new novel by Doris Lessing called The Cleft, and an older one from Starhawk called The Fifth Sacred Thing. I trust that somewhere in there I'll find good reading.

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