“Our house is on fire,” says Greta Thunberg. She is, of course, referring to a world facing the grave threat of climate change. Warming temperatures caused by people like myself. I am the girl playing with matches.
I drink soda from an aluminum can and sip coffee out of a Styrofoam cup using a plastic straw. Every time I go shopping, I come home with at least five plastic bags. Before all the restaurants closed, I went out for lunch with a friend. The food was served on a porcelain plate, the knife and fork were real silverware -a sign that the restaurant’s best days were behind it. It closed down the next month.
In 21st century America, dining establishments are unprofitable if they waste half of their kitchen space on a dishwasher. Most lunch counters serve their bowls, burritos or bagels on plastic dishes accompanied by plastic eating utensils, even if you’re not getting your food to go. Instead of using a glass, your coke comes in a paper cup — and there are gigantic garbage bins at the exits for all the waste.
For someone like myself, who spent a happy childhood on a farm where the milk was organic and the bread was homemade, it’s not easy.
Early on I tried to resist the U.S.’s omnipresent environmental sacrilege. I tried to reuse at least one of the plastic bags from the supermarket in the bathroom trashcan -still do to this day.
I would take my Styrofoam coffee cup home with me in the evening, rinse it out and bring it back to work the next day so I could reuse it, and I stayed away from the locally brewed beer because it was only available in cans.
These days, though, I have begun to lose faith that I can help save humanity with the cloth tote bag I bought at a craft store.
The European plan to protect the climate looks downright absurd when viewed from the other side of the Atlantic. Politicians are seeking to phase out oil heaters and ban plastic bags while the EU is going after plastic cotton swabs -which is fine, but all that doesn’t even amount to a drop in the ocean of change that will inevitably transform our world.
Even if the Green Parties would turn Europe into an eco-dictatorship, which they say they are absolutely opposed to doing, it wouldn’t help the world. At least not as long as people in countries like the U.S. or China have a massively larger carbon footprint than we do in Germany.
There are, of course, a lot of Americans whose brains have room for environmental awareness. But they also have no choice but to buy their organic lettuce at Whole Foods in gigantic plastic boxes to ensure they get home safely. In the car, of course. I haven’t seen bike racks in front of a single supermarket here, that’s something I still miss.
And for every state in America that, like California, has introduced a ban on plastic bags, there is another one that has made it legally impossible to pass such a ban. Most recently, Arizona, Florida, and Mississippi introduced plastic-bag-ban bans. Go figure!
Environmental protection in this country is proceeding in slow motion even as the polar ice caps are melting in fast-forward.
With human civilization heading toward an untimely end, I could become a passionate follower of Greta Thunberg and follow her example by walking all the way across the North American continent to New York to call attention to the threats that face us, but I have chosen a different path.
Instead of riding my bike, I drive and I tell myself that global warming likely can’t be stopped anyway and I remind myself that 99 percent of all species that once existed on Earth are no longer here, and that humans are likely no exception.
I have dedicated myself to acceptance and realized that it’s actually quite fun but I feel bad afterward, just like I do when I gulp down a whole chocolate bar. I know better, it won’t do me any good.
Perhaps I should give the GREEN THING another try. How about taking my Tupperware with me to the grocery store. Seeing the facial expression of the lady at the deli counter, when I ask her to NOT wrap my lunchmeat in plastic but to put it in my container instead could be fun. Are there any rules that forbid that? A none-Tupperware-bringing-law? Perhaps not yet. I haven’t given it a try, perhaps after I leave, that’s when they will adjust the store rules.
I don’t want to be a climate killer, but it’s just so damn comfortable!