Garbage In, Garbage Out
I had a very odd thought today. The long-followed concept about pollution response has been “The solution to pollution is dilution”.
Which, in my mind, roughly translates into:
- “Let’s spew this crap as far and wide as possible, so no one knows it’s our fault!”. (AKA The ducking responsibility approach), or
- “We don’t care if others don’t have access to untainted air, water, or soil. We have enough money to buy what we need.” (Let’s dub this the entitlement mantra – if it doesn’t affect me it doesn’t really affect anyone else), or
- “We have the right to do anything to this planet that we want to, because we are in charge of all the earth.” (I call this one the tainted religion approach, where we think we are in control of Nature, even though we have not yet really begun to understand her.)
Or perhaps, in a terrifying thought, all three. Maybe we are ducking responsibility at the same time we think we are above it all and have all the answers for everyone else, not matter who or where or in what situation.
Are we ducking responsibility at the same time we think we are above it all and have all the answers for everyone else?
I wonder all this as I am lightly cleaning my house. I am far from being toxin free, mostly because I still use things that come in plastic containers (much more than I want). I do use lubricant oils for my bike chain, I use gas and oil in my partial EV/hybrid, and I still travel for personal enjoyment, and for work. And I buy technology and tech has loads of toxins and plastics and inherent mining and labor burdens in production and in recycling.
I am continually trying to grow my understanding and evolve my approaches. In cleaning my house I use mostly vodka, baking soda, olive oil, water, sometimes lemon juice, and essential oils. Yes, it’s a HUGE joke to my husband when we have to go get “cleaning vodka” (the cheapest vodka in the store).
He always winks and grins with the liquor store owner. Even with that we have to choose between the cheapest vodka but in a plastic bottle versus paying a bit more for vodka in a glass bottle. And it is hard to choose – do we make the delivery transit lighter and therefore less carbon intensive and ignore the petrochemicals and dioxins burden (plastic bottles) or do we choose glass bottles which are more readily recycled, but still rather carbon intensive in the process of transit and recycling? Or is it time I start to make my own vodka?! I already make my own oat milk, oat milk yogurt, shampoo bars, lotions bars, and granola, all to reduce plastic burdens.
Anyway, off point.
I am trying very hard to not pour toxins into my local water treatment systems, aquifer, air, or compost bucket. I don’t believe the solution ever was dilution…or should be more chemical treatment to “fix” the contamination. I am doing pretty well. But even my most amazing and aware neighbors likely are unwittingly fouling our shared natural resource streams. I cringe when I smell the sickly-sweet laundry detergents and dryer sheet smells in my neighborhood, knowing I am breathing toxic plumes and that the soap waste is negatively impacting our water quality. And don’t get me started on rampant anti-biotic use in simple hand soaps!! I am continually frustrated when neighbors leave back door lights on all on night, or douse their yards with chemical fertilizers. It is MY water, air, night sky, and soil-shed as well.
I have no answers, only questions, but I encourage all of you to reduce at the front-of-the-pipe where you can. Think not of diluting your toxic mistakes by sharing them among friends. Think instead of how to make purchasing choices that not only keep you healthier, but your friends and neighbors and our planet as a whole.
I’ll protect your world and you protect mine!
“Garbage in, garbage out” is another oft-quoted sentiment and this is as true with the material economy as in any computer program. If we include toxins in our building materials, processed foods, cleaning and yard care processes, and consumer product production, the toxins will always be with us, in our environment, in our food, water, air, soil, AND in our bodies.
And we are only now realizing that we have no more room on this planet for the dilution we used to think was the solution to our rampant pollution.
Cheerful thoughts on a sunny spring weekend.
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