I have a theory that the increasing amount of deadly natural disasters are Mother Earth telling us that we are overpopulating her and that we need to cut back on the procreation. Along these same lines, this whole economic crisis just might be a way of Mother Earth trying to make everyone poor… Because being poor makes you a whole lot more environmentally friendly without really wanting to be. I have never had a specific goal to be an environmentally friendly crunchy granola, mostly because I have never lived in Orange County, Tahoe, or San Francisco and it really has never been a priority. Sure, I have recycled cans and paper since I have had my own apartment and I don’t purposefully throw trash on the street or anything like that, but day-to-day I really don’t try to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.”
But since becoming pretty poor in the last few months, I have realized that if everyone in the world was living on a hobo’s income and also had a large amount of student debt; it might just be the cure to this whole global warming thing that everyone keeps talking about. So here are some ways that you too can save the environment by being poor or being really cheap and pretending to be poor!
1. Living without a washing machine and drying machine. Since moving to Brazil, I have not owned a drying machine and, for the past two weeks, I have also been washing my clothes with a bar of soap in a hotel sink… Do you realize how much electricity not having a washer and dryer saves? I think there might be a study that says that the top electricity user is a dryer. (Two things: I just realized that I forgot the right word for a dryer up there and wrote drying machine, that’s how out of touch I am becoming. Also, I don’t have internet right now and I am writing this in Word and waiting to post sometime in the near future, therefore, I might have looked up this so-called study on the internet, but you’ll just have to believe me.) (Wait, one more thing, now I’m second guessing myself, is it also called a drying machine? Cause you can call a washing machine a washer too, right?)
2. Saving food like a crazy person, and then actually eating it the next day. Ok, so this one might not apply to all people, but before becoming poor, the only left-over I ate was casserole, because everyone knows that casserole is better on the second day. When you’re poor, you don’t really have a choice so all of that food that rich people would have thrown down the garbage disposal or fed to their dogs, I save that and then reheat it the next day and the next day and the next day till it’s gone. I’m talking like the 5 spoonfuls of beans and the cup of rice cooked to the bottom of the pot… Now when I see rich people* throwing food away I seriously have a little anxiety attack. I love leftover chicken bits and corn, why does your mulch pile get that! (BTW, MS Word things that you can’t pluralize spoonful… Is the plural of spoonful, spoonful?)
*I don’t really know that many rich people, nor do I see those people throwing away food, but rich is kind of relative at this point.
3. Not owning a car. I sold my pretty little Subaru Impreza before I left for Brazil, and until now, have used only public transportation. Public transportation is AWESOME… if you live in San Francisco, Paris, London, NYC, maybe somewhere in urban Asia? But in Brazil it sucks and this is why… There is no bus map. The bus system here works, it seems, completely on hearsay and when you can neither hear nor say in Portuguese, it makes things just that much more difficult. I have made a valiant attempt at finding maps or some sort of system for getting bus directions online and they just don’t exist. This, to me, is the most idiotic thing I have encountered here in Brazil, and to this moment I’m getting a little worked up about it. But, concerning the environment, not owning a car has been great! You’re welcome Mother Earth…
4. Not having that much stuff. Not having that much money = not being able to afford much stuff = not having that much trash. Anytime you buy anything at a store, it comes in a package, then they put everything into a bag and then you take all your bags home, take everything out of the bags, and then take everything out of its package… You are left with more trash than actual product. This, my friends, is minimized when you have no money to buy things at the store! (Also, not having a Target is totally horrible, but it is really good if you are poor because you don’t have the option of spending every spare dollar on new Target things.)
The best part about this being poor and, incidentally, environmentally friendly is that it’s like a pebble in your shoe… When it first lands in there, you really want to get it the hell out of there, but after you’ve walked a couple of blocks, it’s still annoying, but less so… And eventually, your foot will probably form a callus and you won’t even be able to feel that pebble. I’m not sure, cause I’m still in that walking a couple blocks stage! J