thanate: (bluehair)
(backstory, for those who missed it; in brief, I'm thoroughly aware of being a spoiled American as the unemployed member of a two-car for two-person family, and have chosen to do my own carbon offset style program)

Unless I failed at addition again somewhere (which is entirely possible, given that I did the whole thing by hand, but I don't think I'm majorly off) I've spent $620.23 on gasoline since the beginning of April. My "offset" tally (which is to say, all the things I would have gotten anyway, but actually kept a record of) is just under $540 of native plants & seeds, locally grown farmers market produce, and my seed saver's exchange membership. I have rounded up the approximately $80 of overage to $100, and donated half that to highly rated national organizations (The Sierra Club, and The Conservation Fund) and half to the local Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Chesapeake Bay Trust. The CBF is even doing a 1 for 1 matching program through the end of today, so that's nice.

As for next year, there will be more trees (yay! I have room to plant more trees!), and there are Plans regarding the boring but sunny side of the house, more of which anon.

Also on the topic of environmental things that are kind of nice for a change: The Cloisters Museum uses (invasive) multiflora rose hips for their holiday decorations. Nice to see a mitigation effort that turns out pretty.
thanate: (Default)
I was making pancakes to use up the last of the gallon of sour milk this morning when [personal profile] grauwulf asked if I would go with him to see the Great Barrier Reef before it's gone. Apparently he's been reading that the carbon dioxide content of that part of the ocean is about to reach the point of no return, beyond which it's predicted that the entire reef ecosystem will die off in a matter of two or three years. And since that's on his life list of places he wants to go see, it's about time for me to get my passport renewed. (Well, past time, but that's another story.)

An hour or two later, I was making my way across the state to go to a craft fair and getting on the ICC at a shiny new entrance ramp where several years ago I dug holes in the middle of a small forest and watched my dig partner save a frog from being eaten by a snake next to our unit. (Admittedly, the whole place was chock full of invasives, but there was a bunch of good stuff in there too.) And I started to think that the reef thing was horrible, but not anything I can do the least bit about, and half-way through thinking that I reminded myself that I was in the process of burning half a tank of gasoline on frivolous things this weekend alone (Longwood Gardens yesterday, Gaithersburg today, two journeys of over an hour each way with only me in my little toyota on the highway.)

If I were the worst offender... the world would not be in a lot of trouble. But that is very different than not being part of the problem. There's a lot of people being the problem to go around at the moment, and I've been mostly avoiding it because I don't know what I can possibly do to change the minds of people whose general political attitude seems to be to stick their fingers in their ears and yell louder at the first breath of disagreement. And while I definitely think we need social services, of all the ridiculous and terrible problems in the world caused by people being ignorant or careless it's the ones that threaten the rest of our ecosystem that are most likely to make me want to come up swinging.

So. I don't use a lot of gasoline; usually I'll buy a tank a month, sometimes two, and generally most of my driving is to the aquarium or the grocery stores with the occasional craft store or trip to see my parents thrown in. That's less than twelve gallons to fill up even if I've driven a ways with the fuel light on, so it's not a major expenditure, and on the whole, most of my driving is pretty frivolous. If I were dedicated, I could take the light rail in to Baltimore (it takes at least twice as long & involves standing about in the weather) and get one of the bicycles working to go to the library and things. But I'm spoiled, and unlikely to do either of these things, or stop gadding about the world occasionally because I feel like going places. So instead I'm instituting a personal carbon offset policy.

For every dollar I spend on gasoline (and I write it all down in a little notebook in the car, with a bunch of other semi-useless statistics that would allow me to calculate mpg and various other things if I ever went back and looked at them) I will spend at least as much money on something that contributes to a general lessening of the harm done burning it. I'm starting with the native plant sales (and I've printed out the list of MD coastal plain approved natives that'll be happy in mid-to-dense shade, so I'm ready to find things to fill up the sides of the back yard.) After that, I guess it'll be time to look into what's actually a good investment in the way of alternate energy sources and saving the rainforest-- if anyone has suggestions, please do share!

Also, next week I *will* get up early enough on Sunday to make it to one of the Baltimore farmer's markets, since they're actually open already.

([personal profile] grauwulf says, "you're a hippy." He doesn't mean it in a bad way-- the next sentence was that he thought I was being very noble-- but neither of these are really related to any of what's in my head about this. Maybe it's just having Oberlin for context, but in my head actual hippies are more alternate lifestyle, possibly drugs, & the overreacting PETA-style crazies who are just as likely to stand around the building exits smoking in front of the "don't smoke in the air intake" signs or try to make people sign giant paper mache toxified caribou to "oppose" alaskan oil drilling as do anything actually useful. The dictionary on my computer covers druggie and sub-culture in a historic context. And I'm not any of those things; I just believe in not wasting things, and I like nature and want it to be able to go on being natural.)

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