Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Midwest Girl Goes Green! (trying to anyway!)

OK, so I try to live my life responsibly and sustainably. Oh, so do you? Ya, I guess most of us do! Everyone seems to have a different definition of what this means though. I mean, most people don't actually want to increase the chances of destroying our livelihood due to global warming. But what are you going to do? The lightbulbs are changed. The thermostat is now programmable and turned down 2 degrees. Now what?

When I read most blogs, tweets, or articles, they suggest you do things like buy a new refrigerator, walk to the farmers market, car-pool, etc. LAME! I'm sorry, but I can not afford a new refrigerator or hybrid or whatever! Also, I live in the 'burbs. While some are cool enough to have farmers markets, my particular corner of the world is not. I could not walk, ride my bike or take public transit to any of the 3 grocery stores within 5 miles of me either, because my community is poorly planned. Mmmm Hmmm, you are right there with me. I mean, theoretically you could ride your bike, but you might die of a heart attack from all the jerk suburban drivers who don't know how to navigate around a bike and honk at you. Or you might just die of being run over by a car- as that teenager didn't see you while they were texting and changing their tunes.

I'm also feeling a bit left out! The midwest is typically seen as the "rust-belt" or the "grain-belt" AND the "bible-belt"- which are almost always depicted as categories at odds with the environment. I challenge this! Rust-belt we are: of course we have a lot of manufacturing, particularly auto manufacturing in the mid-west. Grain-belt we are: known widely as the bread-basket TO THE WORLD, it's a fact many of us take pride in. We feed the world! What could be greater than that! And Bible-Belt we are: Home to every form of religion, the midwest is a very Godly area. Many states still don't allow liquor sold on Sunday! But are they really at odds with the environment? NO WAY! Manufacturers can benefit infinitely from increases in waste re-use and reduction. A subaru plant in Indiana set aside some of its land as a wildlife preserve! Farmers can still feed the world and improve the earth by using no-till methods, less pesticides/fertilizers, etc. They can help us move beyond oil through producing ethanol. And what about bible-thumpers? The Pope recently said that we all need to respect God's creation.
So don't count out the mid-west! We are green too! Or at least we want to be.

The thing is, there really aren't a lot of big cities in the mid-west. Chicago. That's it. The other cities aren't nearly as big, and just don't have the options for public transportation and downtown living in any comparable way. And while farms are abundant, not that many people actually live on them. The midwest is home to one decidedly un-environmental theme: sub-urban sprawl. I dare say I am a victim.

The premise of this blog then is this: Midwesterners are simultaneously the feeders of the world, the suppliers of your cars, deep believers in God, AND environmentalist-wanna-be's. And a lot of us live in suburbs. What's a suburban wanna-be to do? Well, that's the issue I'm going to explore. 'Cause try as I might, I just don't know what else to do!