So you got your compact flourescents, reusable grocery bags and you bike to work. Your solar panels are placed in an optimal position so that your wind mills’ shadows don’t hinder their efficiency and your stationary bike powers your television.
Now what? There has to more you can do, right?
Before you run off to the hardware store to buy red paint for fur coats and chains for trees, let me talk you down. And stop looking up the most effective way to blow up SUVs.
Big Brother tracks down people who visit those sites, duh.
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If you’re hell bent on going down the road to ridiculous, do your cause a favor and be a lovable nutcase instead of a lambasted one.
Ditch your costly garbage service for covert dumpster runs. Nothing makes you more aware of not only how much you’re throwing away and how efficiently you’re packing that trash into bags as having to load up your car to take out the garbage. Plus, it’s really fun to cruise alleys looking for unlocked bins that are free of witnesses.
Hot Tip! - Resist the urge to listen to or hum the Mission Impossible theme while to do so. Remember, we’re trying not to be lame.
Set up a shower outside, so all the water that used to run down the drain is now feeding your lawn and garden. Obviously, you need to switch to an earth-friendly, organic line of bath products, but you probably already did ages ago before it was hip.
Bonus! - The soap coating your plants will ward off insect invaders without killing them.
While you’re at it, why not move the rest of your bathroom activities to the outdoors? Chemical fertilizers are expensive, so why not feed your garden with what’s left after it fed you?
Bonus! - 200 million farmers around the world already do this. True, the practice, which is borne out of necessity, is partially responsible for the spread of diseases such as cholera in developing countries, but with proper washing, food grown with waste water can be even cleaner than that candy you just ate after employing the 10-second rule.
And once you’ve cleared that mental hurdle, explore the world of freeganism — the anti-consumerist movement whose praticioners scavenge instead of buy.
It’s an interesting concept that I was able to witness firsthand in college while photographing a story about a teacher who never used the term "freegan," and subscribed more to the anti-waste side of the philosophy than the anti-consumer. His classroom always had a surplus of school supplies, courtesy of the college students who couldn’t be bothered with recycling amidst their undoubtedly last-minute exodus at the end of the year.
The sanity of freegans seems to come into question when featured on television shows with goofy music playing constantly and jerky zoom-ins on quirky details and facial expressions. While I’ll let you decide whether or not they’re crazy, what most definitely is nuts is the amount of perfectly good stuff that is thrown away. We’re talking fully functional televisions, appliances, canned food and even clothing with the price tags still attached.
Maybe it’s good that freeganism is generally perceived as insane. After all, it ironically couldn’t exist without a wasteful consumption-driven society to clean up after, and if it didn’t seem nuts, then everybody would do it.
And nothing would be crazier than an efficient world where everything makes sense.
-- Kai-Huei Yau is a Herald staff photographer and blames Kermit the Frog for climate change.