"Green, I want you green," wrote Federico Garcia Lorca, possibly the most noted Spanish poet, in his poem Romance Somnambulo .
I want things green too. So all last week I celebrated Earth Day here in my little house on the Argentine pampa in thought, photo, and deed. The most deeply gratifying thought is that my ecological footprint has shrunk from a size 12 EEE to something like a 7B. As it wasn't all voluntary, so I'm not asking for a pat on the back.
First of all, even with a less visible environmental movement, it is easier to live greener here, more due to necessity and custom than any kind of eco-consciousness. So here's how I've become greener since moving here:
1. I drive less. In fact, I don't drive much at all. I average less than 40 kilometers per week—and that is in a 17-year-old Ford Galaxy powered by compressed natural gas. I do average about two trips a year back to the US—so that eats up any credits I might have earned, I suppose.
3. My consumer days are over. Here there is less to tempt—and I've discovered that I don't need much that isn't here. (Except great semi-sweet chocolate!) There's no pressure to buy the latest anything, and we have very few gadgets around the house besides a refrigerator, stove, microwave oven, mixer, food processor, and a small vacuum. We have a 15-year old stereo and a sadly ordinary TV for watching videos as we chose not to have any TV service. The average age of our PCs is 6 years, which is a little dismaying actually. Our big thrill is the antenna which allows us to get broadband.
4. The packageless, nearly paperless home. Since I buy less, there's less packaging. Besides, very little comes in those cardboard and bullet-proof plastic packages here. I didn't even get one of those great cartons when I bought a refrigerator—it came with a thin plastic film on the door and a blanket around it. We use maybe one tin can a week and reuse any jars to store food and spices. We get very little mail and almost zip junk mail—no catalogues, no charity requests, etc. Just an occasional copy of the Jehovah Witness pamphlet, Awake! Our notepads are recycled paper--I cut the pages up myself!
Most of the middle and working class folks that I know here live fairly simply, enjoying their family and friends, and never give much thought to their environmental impact, as low as I perceive it to be here on the family level. Of course the farming and crops have taken their toll on the pampa, and deforestation and water pollution are common. So there is definitely room here for more awareness and more action. I hope to be a part of that too.
May all your days be green!