Friday, February 6, 2009

Alan's Soapbox - Local vs "GREEN"

Explanation - Technically it is not a soapbox. It is an old apple crate. It's missing a few slats and a bit worm eaten. If I stand on it very carefully it provides a platform from which I may rant at the world (or more often scream into the void.)

Disclaimer - All the opinions expressed in these rants are mine. My wife often reminds me (when I start expressing my opinions) that I am "often wrong, but never uncertain".

Kim over at The Inadvertent Farmer posted a great question today. Is local better for the environment than reusable? I sounded off a bit in the comments on her post, but I have more to say on the topic so I came back here, dusted off the rickety old apple crate, and...

For me the question is becoming is EC ("environmentally correct", green, etc) a better standard than locally sustainable. I've said enough about sustainability that you know what I mean, or you can look at some of my other Soapbox posts and find out. Kim's question was "paper (locally produced and used) vs. reusable plastic shopping bags (imported from China). You should check out her post, it is a good discussion. For me, the issue is broader. There are a whole host of "EC" things that we should do; recycling, compact florescent bulbs, organic food, yadda, yadda, yadda. The marketing arm of the "green movement" would have us all drive hybrid cars. Except, my old clunker is payed for (no borrowing from future generations to pay for it), gets 35 miles per gallon (almost as good as a hybrid) and is old (no new resources used in its construction.) Which is better? Both are considerablyless than perfect, but for me, my car wins. On other things, like food (a discussion I had reciently with some friends) local beats everything. The best is, of course, the stuff I produce my self. I know what went in. I control what happens to the waste when I'm done with it (that is a whole other post). The next best is local. By that I mean produced from local resources, used locally, and (to the best of my ability) all the waste is returned to the local pool. There is a thought in the "local economy" movement that local businesses are better than big box stores coming in from elsewhere. WRONG. Local business is only better if they are using and selling things made from local resources. If they are importing the stuff we buy then they are no better than the big box business. I don't care where the money goes. It is the resource pool that is key to our survival. That has to be local - locally produced, used, and returned to the community.

My next rant will be on ORGANICS. I almost ran on into that here, but it doesn't fit. So, I'll pause, breath (per the suggestion of the Shibaguyz), and write clearly on the topic on another day.


inadvertentfarmer said...

As oft you are, well spoken and well thought out.

I am beginning to see that 'green' is not that black and white It is not at all black and white...darn it. I like black and white, right and wrong, clear and easy to follow...

If you think of reusable, recyclable, renewable, local,and organic, you could go a little batty trying to figure it all out!

Now the only thing that worries me is that you are going to confuse me on my precious organics...which I love with abandon...I'm scared to look to see what you're gonna post on those!

Forever learning, Kim

Vincent said...

Mate, I totally agree with your point of view. We have to take a 'systems view' of life - the seduction is to think that just because we're recieving things that are 'biodynamic' or 'organic' means that they're better overall. Rubbish. You've got to focus on the local context. said...

Holy cow... you're on one heck of a soapbox roll... LOL


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