A few years ago for Christmas, Matt and I decided to spend the holiday with my sister in Arizona for the first time since she moved there. Seeing her at the holidays is always nice but doing so in the place she calls home was especially wonderful. All week long, even as the calendar rolled over to January, we commented how odd the weather was, noting the fact that it hit about eighty five on Christmas day. That was particularly strange since generally they are in the sixties. As a lover of all things warm I thought it was great to sit out on the front balcony and get a tan while everyone back home bundled up in winter gear, but at the same time I knew there had to be a reason for the phenomenon.
One evening out at the house of a friend we were all drinking beers and having a great time. I went to bring some empty bottles into the kitchen and aimlessly looked around for the recycling bin. When I did not find one immediately visible I poked my head back in the living room and asked if it was in the garage. My sister looked down at the ground, sighed and said:
“Yeah, we hate the environment here. There is no recycling pick up so just throw them away.”
Just throw them away. With a very heavy conscience I had no choice but to do just that.
To those of us who come from an area where recycling can be a regular part of our daily routine, it might seem strange that a city the size of Tucson would not have a pick up. Sadly not having one is more common than having one in many areas of our nation. It got me thinking about how fortunate we are in Boston, and my town in particular, that we have a separate pick up for all recyclables. Just put the blue bin out at the curb every other week and the work is done; easy. Why then do I hear things like:
“No I never recycle the cans because the cats get at them in the bins and then I forget to bring the bin out so it is easier to just throw them away.”
Just throw them away. We display blatant disregard for the planet by deliberately ignoring one of the most simple and available solutions to help it by adding to the landfills.
Then we complain about the weather. We marvel over the fact that we have already had two inches of rain in August and it is only one week into the month. We sound shocked as we discuss that in the north east we have already had over double the usual number of thunderstorms in an entire season and the season is only two thirds over. The words “climate change” come flying out of my mouth and we all nod but what are we really doing to help prevent it?
Companies that many of us would have never thought of as being environmentally conscious are starting to see that jumping on this trend is not such a bad idea. Hopefully as more of them move in that direction the trend will turn into the norm. Yes that does mean we all have to keep an extra special eye out for imposters who are just trying to make a quick buck on a product that is not environmentally conscious at all but there are some instances where the positive impact is indisputable.
For example, this morning I read about Ikea beginning manufacture of solar panels and other cleantech products. They plan to work with a limited number of cleantech startups in order to keep costs low and hope to begin distribution of the subsequent technologies into their stores by 2011. Not bad considering there are 283 stores spanning thirty nations worldwide (Nineteen US states have one or more locations and by 2009 they will add the twentieth state to the store locator list). Could Ikea be blazing a path toward a new and even better trend such as the potential to purchase an eco-friendly house and all the green solutions needed to furnish, light and accessorize it in a one stop shopping experience? Do not laugh, they are already providing pre-fab, low cost housing in Sweden and expanding their reach with this product to the United Kingdom. It is just a matter of time before the Boklok reaches the United States and we can surround our assemble-it-yourself furniture with a home of the same persuasion.
I own Ikea furniture, lots of it in fact. My mattress & bed frame, sewing cart, sofa and living room chair, bedroom bureaus and two bookshelves are all from this big box retailer. At the time I purchased all of this (about four years ago), admittedly, the reasons were not so much how environmentally friendly they were but rather the fact that they were right down the street in Long Island and I could acquire modern style furnishings for our tiny apartment and do it on a tight budget. Despite what people might think their furniture is not “disposable”. Just like anything in this world it will last as long as it is properly taken care of. Kind of like the world itself.
Arizona has an Ikea in Tempe. Perhaps once these eco-friendly solutions are distributed world wide Tucson can take advantage of their hot and constant sun and pick up truckloads of the panels to install in as many locations as possible in an effort to harness their resources instead of simply throwing things away.