Suspicions are strong that originally there were six of them, if not eight. Now there are only four. That’s not the beginning of a tragic tale, but a practical observation on life, with a follow-up on the very real advantages of pragmatism4.
Someone here likes their weekend afternoon or weekday evening glass of fruit- and herb-infused water from a fancy and fragile crystal glass. I’d call it a goblet, but “goblet” conjures-up images of heavy, metallic or stone vessels held aloft recklessly by Vikings or Crusaders, maybe an Arthurian knight, pre- and post-swill. The liquor therein, also imagined by the word “goblet,” an ambrosia not so much for the gods, but for worn and weary mortals bent on unwinding with as much alcohol as they can squeeze from grapes, wheat, corn, or potatoes.
I pause a minute, wondering where these events might today take place and what battles I might have to fight and survive to wrangle an invitation to party. I’ll set that aside for a bit.
The tragedy of the missing two or four crystal goblets escapes me. Or the memory of it. As dainty and prissy as the four survivors are, I certainly would have been unconsolably distressed when the others were lost. Mostly, as it would have been me who dropped them, clinked them against sturdier dinnerware, or simply snapped stem or rim squeezing too firmly in the process of de-lipsticking them in hot, sudsy water.
For a while, I was really concerned, thinking there was only one survivor. Believe me, I took great pains, exercised utmost caution, when it joined the stoneware and stainless waiting upon my attentions at the post-dinner scrub-up.
Aside, I despise automatic dishwashers. What, I ask, is the point of spending as much time rinsing and stacking into a machine as it takes to simply bite the bullet, fill the sink, and get the job done? Then, to make matters worse, when the insidious device fires-off, it sounds that mechanical banshees have taken over the kitchen. Finally, emptying the infernal machine when it determines after one-thousand gallons of water and forty-five minutes of hellish ethereal groans and clashing that it is proudly “done,” one must unload it, spilling water all over the kitchen floor, inspecting, drying, and five or six times taking a manual crack at erasing residual water-scrub-resistant condiment stains.
Exercising due care one evening, I reached for the goblet waiting patiently on the sideboard, to gingerly port it to the suds and there to gently coax it clean. What? Did I not just wash this thing? Looking to the other (post-wash and rinse) sideboard, yes, indeed, I had! Quickly running to the assigned cupboard space and peering in, lo! Two more of the dainties smugly sat there! Either the Boss found mates in some market (likely at no small expense) or pulled three from a reserve held until I learned how to properly handle the delicate little jewels. Or perhaps, the solitary one was all this time pregnant and had at last, gestation complete, delivered. And more than once, it would seem.
There is a point in all that. I have respect for the simple pleasure that dainty stemware gives the Boss. I take extra care to handle it carefully; once washed, to dry and secret pieces away on assigned cupboard shelves, lest I nudge one with a piece of common glassware, embarrassing it into a sudden breakdown. Takes no more time, really. Extraordinarily little effort.
Let’s now take this further. This thing of being aware and exercising caution.
Consider where we live. Earth. Let’s be simplistic and count the ecological ills thus: pollution of air, streams, soil, and oceans; destruction of forests; depletion of other natural resources; waste that does not decompose into anything useful or at least non-toxic for thousands of years. That’s an onerous load right there. It serves no real purpose to spout facts and figures, tonnages, hundreds of thousands of animal deaths – including humans, varieties of toxicity, and ‘once it’s gone it’s gone’ scares. It you want facts, crack open a browser window, poke in your current curiosity, and let a reliable, quotable site regale you with scary facts.
Realize what you have here. Take care of it. What? Why? Why especially when no one else does? One step at a time, brother. One act at a time, sister. You start. Reuse, repurpose, recycle. Avoid. Yeah, that can be painful. Run that out to the end and consider the alternatives that come to mind here. Not quite so painful anymore.
Yours truly got “into” conservation and pollution in its sundry forms back in 1963. About one hundred years1 after the term “ecology” came into existence, it’s my understanding. In a public speaking contest, the exact subject and content of, I no longer recall. I do remember the volunteer judges, agro-science men, were hard-pressed in the follow-up Q&A to ask decent questions and even to understand the concept of nature’s own (albeit slow) way of ridding itself of “pollution.” They were only impressed enough to award me silver. That hasn’t bought me many cups of coffee.
Somewhere along the line, my interest waned. Over the years, it’s still been my habit to be more conscious of “ecological” choices, but they lost overriding appeal. Because I didn’t pay attention, things got worse. It’s my fault. (Most things are.)
Here’s how it can work: single-use plastic in whatever form is deadly. Don’t use it. Try not to allow it to be used. Regard it poor stewardship, tell the produce manager of your concern. An extra trip to the convenience store costs fossil fuel; that’s perilously expensive, and it will get worse, no matter what today’s prices are. Walk or wait until tomorrow on the way home from work anyway. Composting is really quite simple; granted inconvenient for real city dwellers; but turn your food waste, grass clippings, and autumn leaves into dirt or in fifteen years or so stand in your own waste. Once Coronavirus allows it, use multiple use and/or biodegradable transport bags. Support and champion greedy, careless entrepreneurs2 who look to get rich devising and making readily available degradable plastic substitutes, best example here for garbage bags. Read labels, do we need Strontium-903 in our foods and cosmetics?
If we get a handle on some of these eco-problems, we can then devote time to really politically-charged eco-arguments – animals as protein sources; diverting water to irrigate huge deserts; global-foodstuff inequities; GMO: evil or divine?
For the time being, every action you knowingly take, at first and at first only, will require thought and effort. After a while it becomes habit. Habit becomes preference, automatic. Preference convinces others of the legitimacy of your decisions and the wisdom of your actions.
You and I can make a difference, starting in the smallest ways.
This hasn’t been a rant. Not really. Just suggesting it might be a fact that it’s time each individual consider these problems a very real personal threat or challenge. Call it what you will, what suits your fancy. It’s time, past time, to invest yourself in your home planet. If it turns out, if it’s revealed to you in whatever final act there is as you see it, that this was all posh, what have you lost? Not a damned thing. What you stand to gain, you must admit, is significant. Your choice. Better get busy making some choices.
Anyone know where Vikings and Crusaders party? Arthurian knights? Is club membership required? Can I get someone to sponsor me?
*1 Late 1860’s, Ernst Haeckel according to http://environment-ecology.com/history-of-ecology.html
*2 I am being facetious. Costs more you say? Hey, Bro, pay now or pay (dearly) later.
*3 I am being facetious again. No commercial enterprise would put radioactive material in foods or cosmetics. Would they?
*4 Wanted you to consider this last. The practicality of some of what I suggest could be argued, but only in the here and now. Later, when it may well be too late, the “practicality” will be evident and painfully so. It could be that later, what could have been approached as practicality has become, instead, an “impossibility.” You cannot conserve or reuse what no longer exists.