Humans are wasteful creatures. When we eat packaged food we generate waste, three times a day for some people. When we must drive to purchase said packaged food we generate air pollution by burning gasoline, a nonrenewable resource. Winter saviors like central oil heat and portable propane heaters generate waste on top of consuming Earth’s last of this resource. Wood comes in handy for this. Unless you heat your water with sunlight, power your house with a wind turbine, stay warm with a wood stove, and drive an electric car charged by the sun, there are ways that you can conserve. Do you take a drink with you as you travel? How about stopping at a convenience store on the way home from work or on the way to a gig? This generates rubbish, and a lot of it. Pack a lunch! Use a reusable container to carry your liquids! Easy things such as this greatly reduce the amount of waste we all generate. Few events are as fun or as stress-relieving as taking a snowmobile trip or a 4-wheeling adventure through the forest, but this too is wasteful. I believe that I will leave recreational activities such as these alone in this column, because taking part in both is a damn good time. It’s always much healthier and just as fun to zoom along a bicycle trail through the Appalachians. A quietly exhilarating endeavor this is, I insist you give it a try if you haven’t already. There are many natural options the Earth gives us to sustain ourselves, instead of wastefully burning dinosaur juice and wasting materials made from it.
Breathe in… Breathe out. Imagine if suddenly you weren’t able to? The air we breathe is essential for all living things on our planet to continue living. It is a frightening scenario to think of it disappearing all at once. Unfortunately, the air we breathe is being polluted as I write, and as you read. There isn’t much we can do to stop this pillaging of our atmosphere, but there are ways we can ease the stress on Mother Earth. Plant a tree. Drive less and walk or ride short distances. Carpool. Switch to a fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicle, although this may not be an option for some. The wind is capable of doing amazing things if it is harnessed correctly. A few things come to mind, such as the use of sails for propulsion, winged flight for travel, wind turbine electricity generation, and you can feel at ease with a parachute to guide you safely to the ground when skydiving. You can even catch air, although I don’t advise you to do it if you’re inexperienced. Air is awesome.
Our star, a very bright, warm light in the sky during our days, is responsible for helping plants produce food and to synchronize respiration. We as a species rely on the sun to warm our summers, to tan our skin, to heat our swimming pools, to power our photovoltaic panels, and to grow our fruits and veggies. We can harness the sun to make the water in our festival shower not so cold. Food can be cooked using the sun’s warm ultraviolet rays. Do you have any old pizza boxes that are piling up? Of the non-moldy variety, of course, and you need tinfoil too. String will come in handy as well, cotton or hemp, your preference. Use a knife to cut a three-sided square in the top of the pizza box. Be sure to leave an inch or more of overhang on the uncut part of the pizza box to help with reflecting. Reflection equals heat in this equation! Punch a hole in the flap you just created and wrap it in tinfoil, but be sure to not cover the hole you just punched. Punch another hole in the base of the pizza box, behind the flap. Tie your string to the top of the flap and then to the box to suspend the flap in such a way that it reflects sunlight into the box. If you don’t have string then a stick or alternative propping device will work, just remember that it will cast a shadow and make the solar oven less efficient. Now cover the inside of the box with tinfoil and seal the cracks and spaces on the outside. Duct tape works best for this as this is what it is originally designed to do, but masking tape will do if you’re fresh out of duct tape. This little oven can make assembled s’mores, grilled cheese, pizza on half of an English muffin, chopped potatoes, and bacon (yes, BACON!). Get snacking with sunlight!
Clean, beautiful, life-sustaining water; a marvelous union between two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom, is a very powerful Earthbound compound. It has shaped our landscape in ways that man cannot mimic, such as the massive amounts of frozen water that carved our hills, valleys, and plains. Water also erodes the land like the tall craggy mountains of millions of years ago into what we know now as the fuzzy green Appalachians. It created passageways in the soil to create our rivers, streams, and creeks. These bodies of water are dammed by humans to make electricity and also by our furry, buck-toothed brethren to thrive and make more furry brethren. It’s beautiful how nature can embrace
water’s power in the same way but for different purposes. Water also washes our clothes, washes our dishes, and washes our skin. It nourishes our insides and without it we’d be sunk. We can conserve in these daily routines by washing clothes less often, which means wearing everything in your wardrobe all the way down to that dusty leisure suit from the 70s. Well, maybe not THAT long. We can also use a sink full of water to rinse our dishes instead of letting the water run. Take a brief shower instead of a bath and use biodegradable soap. When traveling, fill a large canteen with water instead of reaching for that plastic bottle of water. Better yet, collect fresh spring water from your local source. It’s a pretty easy thing to come across in the Appalachian region, usually piped to the road for collection, and it’s free. Run it through a filter and hydrate yourself while de-crudding your pineal gland! Fresh water tastes the best too.
Conserve your resources wisely. In the effort of conservation, when must also reuse and recycle whenever possible. If it’s not possible, make it possible. We only have one planet and one shot at keeping it nice for future generations to enjoy. I am sure we can set an example for our children and their children if we get conserving resources as a common practice amongst us all. In that possibility and this reality, be kind. Love one another. Share peace with those who have none. We can make the planet a better place one smile at a time, as we are all in this together.