Thursday, March 5, 2009

Waves of green

Generally speaking, there have been three waves of green. So it seems to me, looking back.

The first was in the early 1960s. Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, scientists talked about 'nuclear winter', and Dr Forrest Shaklee realized that the explosion in his lab had yielded a perfectly safe cleaner.

The second was in the 1970s. People like Kay Ferguson began to make noise in her community about recycling, a new concept that meant that we used things over, like newspapers and bottles. And there were plenty of other forces, all geared to helping us save our planet (which we didn't know was endangered) and make us more responsible in our consumption patterns. There was also a back-t0-the-land component, of which we were unknowingly part.

The third is now. It's been going on for several years of course, with more or less success. In the town of Anacortes WA the recycling program is so all-encompassing that the regular trash barrel is less than the size of the one for the recyclables: newspapers, bottles, plastics, etc. Meanwhile, at our apartment in Salt Lake, all we can recycle is newspaper, unless we carry our trash to some unknown, unexplained, and possibly non-existent facility. And of course much else is going on in the name of the environment.

These aren't distinct waves by any means, and I've left out all the part about saving the whales and not mining in national parks, and a lot of work by really good people.

A lot of being 'green' is altruistic or involves the greater good. Some of it is just silly, such as certain measures being touted to prevent global warming.

But when we set up our little farm, it was not really to contribute to the greater good. It was because we felt an urgent need that we could be self-sufficient.

And it was tough! We didn't know how to do it, despite reading book after book. It was ok that we hardly knew what we were doing with the goats, but a garden? Everyone knows how to garden! Before stores, everyone gardened to survive. You dig up the ground, plant seeds, water, and wait. You spray bugs and wait some more. You harvest.

When all your food needs to come from the garden, that knowledge is not enough, and may not even be accurate.

We wanted to be 'green', we wanted to live off the land, and we didn't have a clue how. The question as we entered our first spring on the farm was whether we could learn in time.

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