Memorial day: to remember those who’ve sacrificed themselves to better the future—our future—that we are destroying. Anna Jade Flournoy Latimer
At 3pm on Monday, May 31st, I will honor the dead in my lineage and in your lineage who have died in military service. I will spend some time in quiet contemplation upon their sacrifice and its implications for my life. Then I will play Taps on my borrowed trumpet and spend a few more minutes sitting still, at home, considering war and the world (hopefully no one complains about my very basic playing!). Then, no doubt, I will switch my meditations to the still gushing oil spill in the Gulf, and consider the implications for the world, the workers who will deal with the mess, the sea life that is suffering the war on the environment, and my family members in Louisiana whose livelihoods depend on Gulf industry. It feels like a good time to express some gratitude for soldiers and workers, and sorrow for all of these losses. Regardless of my political beliefs, I recognize that my grandfathers fought because they wanted something better for their grandchildren. And my cousins work on rigs in the gulf to support their families.
I’m already gearing up for the meditation, my mind singularly focused on what I can do in my own life to make less need for war. I can’t help but see the relationship between consumption of oil, and increasing likelihood of war as the world’s corporate fight for oil rights escalates. And I can’t help but see the potential for consumers to claim their power by decreasing that demand immediately.
My pre-meditative state is already helping me envision pathways that could established within weeks and months. I envision a consumer habit revolution starting this Memorial Day, and culminating in a Labor Day celebration of that would rattle the world’s energy corporations.
The vision begins with writers spreading the idea, then families deciding to change their shopping and driving habits, then business owners changing their purchasing habits, retailers changing their product offerings, people getting excited by the changes they are witnessing, and by Labor Day, new habits already being adopted around the nation.
It would start something like this: start questioning our habits. Find the ones that would make a huge impact now if we act as part of one large entity. Shift our thinking to claim our power as consumers.
Here is where I see we can make immediate impact with simple changes in our shopping habits:
Stop buying bottled water. If you need more information on how the incredibly huge impact of water transportation and plastic bottle production and waste relates to oil consumption, watch Tapped, the film, now. Then buy some cool reuseable water bottles, preferably stainless steel, and use them. Make sure you have enough for the whole family.
It takes approximately 18 million barrels of oil to deliver water each year in the US, 17 million barrels PER YEAR to make our plastic water bottles, then even more oil is consumed in the disposal of the plastic bottles even if they are recycled. (from TAPPED)
I recommend getting at least 2 re-usable water bottles per person, and a different color for each person or labels. I don’t like mine having had flavored coffee in it, just sayin’. There is no excuse for having disposable water bottles in your home or office. They are not the new black.
Personally I prefer Ball jars. They are perfect for the summer. I bring some with me and use for take out fresh juices at the juice bar, for water at any restaurant, for coffee-to-go. If we could get 3 million people to stop the insanity of purchasing water bottles made from petroleum this summer, we’d already have made a huge impact on an unnecessary industry.
Take back the tap. I recommend getting a water filter. Which one? Go online and find out which water filter is best for you, and order it. Or call your plumber. He’ll know, and be happy to recommend one for you. If you don’t have someone to call, call your cooperative extension or look online for water quality testing companies. You can get a test in the mail.
While you are getting into the habit of saying no to disposable water bottles, start saying NO to the bags at the store. I admit I forget mine often. You can see me walking out of the store juggling 15 items I am determined to carry because I forgot my bags. After I’ve done this enough times, I guess I won’t forget any more. No more excuses for me.
Shop Local: Shop local has become a slogan. But I mean it. And I don’t mean to shop at a local store for food made in China. I mean commit to buy only locally produced lettuce, meat and dairy as a starting point. These are products in abundance in most regions of the US and Canada. Find them at farmer’s markets, health food stores, and markets that specialize in locally produced foods.
MEAT is a big issue. Not only is much meat produced in a way that is ecologically destructive, and inhumane, but it is often transported from Venezuela or Texas where it was fed with corn or soy grown somewhere else in the world and transported to the cows to consume, then the cows transported here. The agriculture system is insane and a matter of insane economics. My answer is that the most responsible thing we can do is to drastically reduce our meat consumption. Here’s how: Replace half your meat meals each week with vegetable based meals, or rice and bean meals. Next week I’ll give you some innovative ways you many never have heard of to prepare beans and rice in a manner that maximizes their protein and nutrient values. Here is a site that will give you lots of recipe ideas for fresh vegetable meals that will make the transition easier.
Step 2: Consider the transportation/oil issues surrounding the meats you do eat, and commit to buying only local, grass-fed, hormone, antibiotic and pesticide free meats. (this means the corn/soy/grains they are finished with must be free of pesticides and herbicides as well) In most areas of the US, we have the choice to buy locally raised beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat and rabbit.
Eating meat every day is simply a habit. Remember that. In a traditional small-farm based economy, meat was consumed in quantity around slaughter time, then preserved in various manners for moderate consumption in other times. It wasn’t something eaten indiscriminately every meal. Change that habit. It’s just a habit.
Again, you can shop at a farmer’s market, you can order it for delivery.
This is just the beginning of a grassroots revolution in shopping habits that can hugely impact oil consumption in the country. Just by shifting some very basic shopping habits. We’ll get to energy consumption in upcoming posts.
For more inspiration, listen to Tracy Chapman’s “Talking About a Revolution“.
Check out EnviroPhotographer J Henry Fair’s Industrial Scars site.
Watch TAPPED. Follow Reuter’s Factbox on the Oil Spill.
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