I don't know if you all noticed, but a) it's summer, b) there's a heat wave, and c) there's a drought. I saw a headline that said all this extreme weather is making people finally believe in global warming. I also don't know if you've noticed, but I haven't written in a while about any significant environmental issues. Frankly, I was tired of talking to the wind--that same wind that keeps blowing down trees on the road where I live. And the truth is, I love hot weather. In this kind of weather, you can find me floating on a raft in my pool...without sunscreen! I've always been suspicious of sunscreen, and it turns out I've been mostly right. But there is little satisfaction in being right when no one listens or cares, hence the whole global warming thing.
"Don't complain to me about the weather!" I've been telling people lately. First because it's everyone's fault and second because I LOVE hot weather (did I say that already?). But I am at peace with it because I feel like I am doing what I can to do my part in keeping the planet healthy. Here is my list. Feel free to read it, pass it along, or ignore it...but DON'T complain to me about the freaking weather!
- I pay the price for organic food and shut up about it. Harsh words, I know. But if you do just one thing to heal the planet and keep us all safe, this is it. Change your eating behavior so you spend less on crap and more on the real stuff and you'll be just fine. Don't even try comparing prices because it will make you crazy. Do the right thing and the universe will reward you. I promise. I'm too tired of explaining why this is important over and over so just read my book Organic Manifesto. It's still relevant.
- I grow a lot of my own food too. It's a bit of work, but the effort is worth it in price, pleasure, and happiness to my kids. The food miles from the garden to my freezer more than make up for the fact that I have a super-large Sub Zero freezer. I grow veggies, fruit, and herbs and I also forage. Nature is a miracle and don't ever forget it.
- I drive a Prius. It's seven years old and still gets 38.9 miles per gallon city and country. It drives just fine and, despite all the recalls and scandals, has been a good, reliable car. You don't need to plug it in anywhere. You can go a good 500 miles on one tank of gas and you can roll your eyes when gas station attendants ask you if that's all the gas you need. Yes. That's all I need, thank you very much.
- I don't have air-conditioning in my house. That's right. I don't have air-conditioning in my house. And a funny thing happens when you don't have it: You get used to it. Maybe you slow down a bit, but hey, it's summer. You start to notice things like little breezes and the sound of crickets. You connect with the birds. You learn a few tricks on the worst nights like sticking your feet into cold water before you go to bed--and sleeping naked with no blankets, just the summer air against your skin.... I mean, who wouldn't want that?! It's heaven!!!!!
- I believe in the power of alternative energy. Yes, I have photovoltaic panels for electric power and solar vacuum tubes for hot water. And guess what? It works!!!!! And people send us money because we have them! Sure, you have to do your own research on it because people are so slow to believe anything new that it takes a thousand years for thoughts to change.
- I'm very selective in my travel. I'm not dashing off whenever and wherever anyone wants me to go--much to their chagrin, perhaps. I do love to travel, but when I go I always try to accomplish as many things as possible...unless I am just trying to relax, and then I try to accomplish as little as possible!
- I don't use a lot of stuff. No hair dryer. No tons of beauty products (most of the stuff I have is stuff people have given me that I hardly ever use). If I need something, my first stop is usually the "antiques mall" down the road. It's amazing what you can find that's even better quality and cheaper than what you can find new in stores.
- We hang our clothes out to dry. Even in the winter.
- I look for local craftspeople and sources whenever I can. Here's the thing we haven't taken responsibility for as a nation, yet: the reason there are no jobs? Why everything was outsourced to foreign countries? Because Americans love to buy cheap stuff at a great price. PERIOD. It's not the President who did that, we did! US. A lot of the coolest furniture in my house was built by a guy down the street, from wood we either found or bought from local mills. It is better made than anything I can buy. Much cheaper than anything I can buy in New York City. And one of a kind, well designed--by Winn and me. (Winn, I'm still jealous that you retired to St. Croix!!!)
- I help out when and where I can. That means volunteering for nonprofit boards (I've planted quite a few trees in New York City through the New York Restoration Project and I've done tons of work locally with the Wildlands Conservancy). But I've also just picked up trash along my road. Five big bags along three miles of wooded roads, the last time I did it.
Could I do more? Sure. We all can. But it sucks to look around and see so many people living as if what they do doesn't matter.
So, what are you doing?
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com