Monday, April 26, 2010

Bandwagon Skeptic

“What if Democrats and Republicans, religious people and atheists keep arguing, but it doesn’t matter? What if God is mad that we’re ruining the world and she’s sending messages just like in those Bible stories?”

- Eve to her brothers in The Disappearances

I’m a skeptic.

Last year when I heard that would donate a cup of rice for every 100 vocabulary words I got correct, I told the fifth-grade students to do it too. After all, learning new words and feeding the poor is a win-win. But I was skeptical. When I’d answer questions on the site, my husband would say, “Better get 100 points or some poor child isn’t getting lunch today.” Okay, maybe he’s the skeptical one.

In that same classroom, I had the students make suggestions for what we could do at home and in our neighborhoods to reduce global warming. It generated a fruitful discussion. I had planned to enact some of the suggestions at the school (picking up trash in the neighborhood was the biggest one), but then I left my assistant position to become a substitute teacher and many of our ideas fell by the wayside.

About a week ago, I came across the first post about making my blog carbon neutral. By Earth Day on 04/22, the blogosphere was full of claims that I could make my blog carbon neutral. While I figured it couldn’t hurt I:

1) didn’t quite believe it

2) hate jumping on bandwagons

If you want proof about the second assertion, I still haven’t seen the film “Titanic”, I waited until my son forced me to read the Harry Potter books aloud when he was in first grade (then I got hooked), I don’t watch “Lost” or "Glee" even though everyone tells me I must, and I haven’t seen the movie “Avatar”. (I don’t know what’s wrong with me.)

It probably couldn’t hurt to stick a little leaf on my sidebar and write a post about Arbor Day Foundation’s promise to plant a tree. (Unless they sell my e-mail address to a mailing list or start inundating my comments section with spam.)

Truthfully, I feel Irish, Italian, and Jewish guilt every time I think that I’m harming the environment. I drive a small car, use cloth napkins, hang most of my wet clothes, walk or ride my bike when I can, rarely use the air conditioner, turn off lights when I leave the room, but it never feels like enough. Even when I’m sitting, using nothing, I’m breathing out that darned CO2. Exhale - guilt.

When I realized that my kids’ school used foam trays in the cafeteria, I was flummoxed. What did they do with all of the plastic ones, stick them in a landfill? (And what about all of those desks in the classrooms when they switched to tables?) Based on my concern along with some other parents, they give the students an option for the tray to be cleaned and reused. Not ideal, but better than before.

My manuscript, The Disappearances has a pro-environment message. I didn’t start off planning it that way. As I explained in an earlier post*, “Walmart was the first to disappear,” popped in my head as I spied some mist on the side of the highway. The seeds were planted, and I began to write. I had to wait with Eve to find out why the fog obliterated Walmart. Along with Eve figuring out what she wants and who she is, and being in danger of losing her best friend, the story went in an environmental direction.

Here are the first couple of the environment posts I came across:

It started with Sarahjayne’s post, a couple of days before Earth Day:

Then I read what Richard Halpern did in his classroom for Earth Day:

After that, more Earth Day posts popped up:

Jackee’s post is awesome, with a diagram and a list of tips: (Can you tell that she’s a former scientist?)

Here’s a step-by-step explanation about how to participate along with the letter Susan received from the Arbor Day Foundation:

Nicole also made her blog carbon neutral:

Lora didn’t participate but she provides some green tips:

Paul also didn’t participate, but this post is about damage we’re doing by using toilet paper: (Read his previous post too.)

So, now you have my post for Earth Day. I know it’s late, but I don’t like to jump on bandwagons.

*Update 04/28. A tree has been planted. Woo hoo!

* This is the post that gives more details about my manuscript:


  1. I'm of that same ilk. I don't like to jump on bandwagons, often to my own detriment (and to others' - like the Earth Day thing - why couldn't I just get over myself and do it?). I guess my ego needs some downsizing!

  2. Cool, this was a very interesting read. Thanks for all the links. Nice Earth Day post!

  3. Thanx for the links. It's nice that your MS has a great message. i've never thought of placing an environmental message in one of my novels but it sounds like a perfect idea.

  4. Talli, your ego needs downsizing? You made me laugh. I think sometimes our blogs have a certain method or flow, and trying to figure out how to do blog awards or making a green post doesn't fit in.

    B. Miller, thanks!

    T. Anne, I didn't plan for the manuscript to have a message. I hope it doesn't come off as preachy. The environment became an essential part of the plot, and I just ran with it.

  5. Amused... I don't jump on bandwagons either, even though I get hyper-defensive when people criticize the things that I've loved since day 1 (like LOST, which I knew I'd love since the mysterious commercials before episode 1).

    Oh, and I have anger issues about bandwagon jumpers when it comes to sports. <- You support your team and wear your colors proudly even if they are losers. When you suddenly jump on the wagon when effort pays off and they get good, tell the truth and don't pretend you were always there. :P

    About the environment - I think it would be a lot easier to get people interested if you make it a personal thing and a matter of pride, fun, or common sense.

    When you drag politics and corporations (those businesses latching onto the green earth movement so they can sell their products to the gullible masses), that's always going to be a turn off.

    If it is free and simple - and personally helpful, people will definitely put the effort in.

  6. Thank you so much for all the info! I was around before they started Earth Day and for a long time it was little more than a joke. I'm so glad to see it become such a big important thing to so many people!

  7. Catherine, you have a good point about bandwagons and teams. Read my previous post. But it's rare that a team does well every year. There are a few years of greatness, but then those fans have to agonize like everyone else.

    I wish environmental issues were less political and attached to advertising, but EVERYTHING is now political and attached to advertising.

    Mary Anne, it's nice that there's earth day, but there should just be a push to improve out planet all of the days. "Awareness" only takes us so far.

  8. Irish, Italian and Jewish guilt. That is a whole lot of Guilt there Theresa!

    I am not a bandwagon person and get really annoyed when things I have been interested in forever become bandwagon fodder. I want to scream, I have been a fan of that subject forever! But no-one listens, no-one cares. Do you hear the sad violins.

  9. Ann, I know, I can't win in the guilt department.

    Yeah, I hear those sad violins!

  10. A very interesting post. In my opinion, Earth Day should be everyday. Not just one day. There should never be reminders, it should just be for the good of the environment.

  11. Oops. I completely missed Earth Day. It sounds like a much bigger deal in the US than it is here...?

  12. Theresa, I agree with you. The awareness shouldn't have to be preached at us, it should just be a part of our lives everyday. We should learn from infants to appreciate the earth and how to protect it. Earth Day feels a bit like Mothers Day to me. Like us mothers, the earth should be appreciated all year round. Have sent you an email.

  13. Choices, I agree. This is the first time I've even acknowledged Earth Day.

    Hampshireflyer, Earth Day does seem to be getting more popular here in the last few years. I confess that I'm normally surprised when someone mentions that it's Earth Day.

    Brigid, I like your Mother's Day analogy. So true. I got your e-mail.

  14. Oh Theresa Milstein!!!

    I didn't know it was Earth Day too until I read Susan Field's blog. I think it still needs to catch on worlwide..!

    I guess you can only do as much as you can and use as responsibly as you are able to!

    but I guess it doesn't harm to have something like Earth day just to nudge people abit.

    I'm trying to get people to recycle more at work and it really is an uphill struggle and I try not to be too preachy but if someone throws a plastic bottle with the cap still on despite all the signs, emails, requests, meetings, what are you supposed to do??

    I end up going through the recycle bags like some homeless person ensuring what is going to be recycled is recyclable.

    It;s like people know it's good to recycle. It's the knowing how to recycle properly that seems a harder concept to grasp. I think cos it's more work and more thinking! LOL! I'm being horribly cynical!!

    Sorry I'm off on a tangent here but you wouldn't believe the amount of gunk I have to wade through to get a good bag of good recyclable rubbish!


    I better go away and have a cup of herb tea..!!

    I am so, so, so happy you quoted from your soon to be published novel!


    Take care

  15. I don't like to jump on bandwagons either. Lines that stretch around the corner can do without me.

    Your comments on my blog are always welcome. Come again, Roland

  16. Every time I hear someone go on about the environment, i think, "Well, are you using disposable diapers? Or did you use them on your children?" Because if so, then talk to the hand.

  17. Old Kitty, I hear ya. When I was an assistant in the fifth-grade class, when students put things in the garbage that belonged in the recycling bin or vice versa, they always heard from me.

    And I've been known to rummage through a garbage can or two to set things right.

    Roland, of course I'll visit again. Feel free to visit here anytime.

    KarenG, oh the disposable diaper debate! When I looked into it at the time, they said the energy to transport the diapers back and forth, use the bleach and hot water from a diaper service, made it about the same as disposable diapers. I could've done it by hand but I just couldn't.

    I try to make up for it by composting, so my family creates very little garbage.

    In the end, it's important that we make it a point to do a few important things and stick to them.

  18. I'm like you--it's hard for me to jump on a bandwagon. I haven't read Twilight, seen Avatar, or even name more than three actors. I'm out of the loop.

    I think it's kind of cool that you are incorporating pro-environment into the book somehow.

  19. Thanks for all the earth day was great that you made a comprehensive list of posts on the subject. Doesn't it get to you how much styrofoam schools throw away every day???

  20. Tiffany, I had no interest in reading "Twilight" until one of the fifth-grade girls got me to do it. Then I regretted it.

    VKT, I cringe when I see how much waste there is at school. And when a classroom doesn't have a recycle bin, I'm even more upset.

  21. We get unsold bakery goods from a supermarket for our pigs and the packaging for some of the things is shocking. One muffin will enclosed in something that looks like a plastic spaceship, ridiculus!

    Have more houseplants and they will suck up your CO2 and look better for it. :o) Plant a tree.

    There's an award for you on my W post XX

  22. Niki, I agree that some packaging is out of hand. The more local we buy, the better it often is, which is why I rely on the farmer's market in the summer and bring reusable bags.

    Kids toys are the worst. In the name of preventing theft, they come with so much extra.

    We have houseplants, so I can feel less guilty about breathing!

    Thanks for the award.

  23. Hi Theresa... very informative post. Earth Day kinda passed me by altogether... but agree with others who commented that every day should be Earth day! We try to do out bit and my husband's favourite past-time is sorting out bins. Although we do seperate stuff for recycling he loves nothing more than further seperation - we have a clean green bin and a messy one?????? I think it's cos he is English - likes organisation!!

    Anyway I digress... great post! I enjoyed it.

  24. Barbara, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. If it weren't for the American blogs that I follow, I would've been taken by surprise again.

    Your husband and I may be kindred spirits when it comes to recycling. I live in a three-apartment condo, and nobody else does the sorting to my liking so I fix it.

    I have control issues. You should see me organize the dishwasher!

  25. I love how your WIP talks about environmental issues (and political ones as well). Teens need to read more about that and less about vampires!

  26. Thanks for the links. I enjoyed this post, as always.

    I chose to plant my own tree in my back yard for earth day...I'm a carbon neutral blogger on my own terms. ;)

    Oh, and I'm anal about the dishwasher too!!


  27. I'm not a bandwagon person either and I agree with Choices - Earth Day should be every day. I feel bad that I missed it, though I do try to do my part.

  28. Aubrie, the funny thing is that I abandoned this WIP for a vampire WIP. But now I'm back. I hope that readers take from my manuscript that politics and the media can get in the way of change.

    Lola, that good to hear. Alas, I have no yard.

    Kathleen, I don't think there's anything to feel bad about missing. The point is to do you part.

  29. Hey I DID plant a tree, well more of a bush actually... not for Arbor Day, but because I like plants. Lots of them. And, the blizzard this winter ruined my gardens.
    Yes, I procrastinated and did not plant the darn thing until yesterday, well, it's not in the ground exactly, but it's been watered and is sitting NEXT to the place it will be planted as soon as the Winds From the Frozen Tundra head north again... along with the 2 rose bushes I got and the Rose of Sharons that I need to move from one place to another, more accomodating, place in the gardens.
    So, I am helping the planet by planting life-giving plants AND by recycling them from one part of the yard to another.
    I hope I still get brownie points from Mother Nature for this.
    oh- and how is a blog carbon neutral anyway? Laptop's still on and using energy, right?

  30. Dawn, I love how you wrote this. So funny.

    I have a sinking suspicion we have to plant at least one tree per year to make up for all of this electricity. I take cloth shopping bags with me to the supermarket and have one in my bag. Does that offset?