i want to find the supergenius who's shoving all this green goodness down our collective throats and stick my carbon footprint where the sun don't shine. don't they know that they aren't talking to me? i live in the ghetto! what about us?
in this neck of the woods, everyone is just trying to make it from one day to the next. nobody is thinking about changing their light bulbs. they're thinking about what to do to keep the lights on. and you know what? organic fruits and vegetables are extremely expensive. when you're broke or just plain ol' poor, organic is not an option. they don't call whole foods "whole paycheck" for nothing. i think i'm batting a thousand by choosing healthy options but the ghetto doesn't make it easy for me.
when it's time to eat around here in west harlem, there's that smart black contingent that insists on vegetarianism/veganism and healthy life choices, with delicious hot spots popping up all over harlem, like Raw Soul. and then on the other hand, there are three McDonald's restaurants within a 10 block radius of my apartment in either direction. one of them is two blocks away. they're all bilingual, they're all open 24 hours a day and they all do a brisk business. somewhere inbetween those choices are all the "soul food" options that everyone loves to complain about: fried, greasy chicken or fried greasy fish, overcooked vegetables and nary a salad in sight. lifestyle choices abound.
not only does this stuff not apply to me, but i can't really afford to make the switch because everything that's green -- from the houses to the organic food and everything inbetween -- is so expensive.
you know what? ed begley jr. should come to the ghetto and give a tutorial to explain why we should all embrace his green way of life, so some single black mother with two kids and three jobs that's barely making ends meet can kick his wealthy, privileged pasty rump all the way back to mali-boo-boo. she lives in the projects. what does she need a vertical axis wind turbine for?
the question persists: how do you go green in the ghetto? here are my top ten suggestions.
- take a tote bag to the grocery store. yeah, i know. this is an easy one. that's why hardly anyone does it.
- ride your bike to work. actually, ride it everywhere. that's kind of a big deal in the city because the roads aren't as bike friendly as they should be. but they are more bike friendly than they used to be, nonetheless -- many avenues have bike lanes and zipping up the west side highway in a straight shot is dreamy, especially at night. the problem is, employers don't always accommodate the bikes. fortunately there are lots of parking lots in the city that do -- for free.
- stop taking cabs everywhere. the subway is way cheaper and usually it's faster. and yes, it's clean. usually the people who complain about how filthy the subway is are the ones who are turning it into a sty.
- change those filters in your AC units. i've actually got AC now! go figure.
- change the lightbulbs. until they figure out how enviornmentally sound those mercury-encrusted lightbulbs are (hint: they're not!) make do with a lower wattage.
- use rechargeable batteries.
- recycle everything. when i say everything, i mean anything that isn't biodegradable. sort through your garbage and stack/bind newspapers/magazines. sort through your clothes and donate them to the salvation army. toss out your old computer and other electronic goods in a properly designated area -- like your hallway. (that's how i got rid of my old tv/vcr.) here's a great idea: donate your old cell phone so a soldier in iraq can call home.
- shop at the new york city farmer's markets. that's right: you don't have to go all the way to union square for organic greengrocers' fare -- thanks to an initiative by the new york city health department that wants to get all urban dwellers eating healthier, you can shop in harlem, the bronx and brooklyn for fresh fruits and vegetables. and they take food stamps.
- get oxygen friendly houseplants. this is a big one, because it can detox your home enviorns and add a lot of life to them. who knows? i may make a pit stop to the plant district at the end of the month, to see if i can find a little tree of some sort.
- and last but not least...go organic -- or at least all natural -- if you can afford it. when it's time to eat, my motto is this: check the list of ingredients and don't eat anything you can't pronounce. there's lots of other everyday things to do, too. clean your hardwood floors with white vinegar. (my grandmother taught me that one years ago.) brush your teeth with baking soda -- because most of the toothpaste out there has a ton of sugar in it, anyway. (hey! she taught me that one, too.) leave off with the polyester and wear natural fibers like silk, cotton, wool. wear vintage clothing -- now that's recycling!
i wish i could live in a green house. the only ones who can afford them are rock stars and movie stars-turned enviornmentalists: people with millions to blow on bamboo flooring and proper insulation. anytime i hear these people going on about what i should be doing to save the enviornment, i start yawning because it's so obvious that they don't live in the real world, with real people's problems. believe me -- if i could, i'd live in one of buckminster fuller's dymaxion houses. oh, well. maybe i will get one someday, if i ever get loaded.
here's the question we should really be asking ourselves: who killed the electric car?
still and all, it would be nice to see the media address what the poor and lower middle class folk that can't afford to make this green move are supposed to do. that's what i want: more suggestions for the rest of us.