The Green Citizen (Greenizen)

I was born in Los Angeles, CA, just as the year 1970 was getting under way. In the US, environmental issues were starting to rear their ugly heads on a seriously frightening scale. We had acid rain, rivers so polluted they caught fire, and brown smog blanketing the skies of major metropolitan areas. We had a hole in our ozone layer that was growing at a terrifying rate, leaving people vulnerable to higher rates of cataracts and blindness, as well as skin cancer, among other things. Several of America’s most iconic animals-the bald eagle, the bison, and the Yellowstone grizzly bear, were nearly extinct.

Though I was just a kid in the 70’s, I remember many of the horrors of pollution in the city. In smog-plagued Los Angeles, I battled asthmatic bronchitis on a daily basis. My life was all about inhalers and doctor visits and coughing and wheezing as Mom walked us to school and back each weekday. I also remember the Arab Oil Embargo, where fuel was rationed and people waited in long lines to put gas in their cars on days the government assigned to them…due to this crisis, the government began a widespread campaign to get Americans to conserve energy in any way possible. I remember one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, a dry spell that has only been challenged since by the drought of 2012-2017.

In December of 1970, in response to the growing threat from pollution and degradation of our climate, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed by then President Richard Nixon, with the aim of staving off further disaster. In 1973, the United States government passed the Endangered Species Act, designed to save animals like the bison and the grizzly from extinction. All across the country, conservation became the buzzword-on posters, on postage stamps, on radio and TV, from the Pacific shores to the Atlantic, Americans were encouraged and admonished to cut back in every possible way, and to reduce, reuse and recycle everything we could.

I grew up this way. We didn’t leave the tap running while brushing our teeth. We didn’t dally in the shower. We turned off lights when we left the room, and we carpooled. And so much else…

When my family left Los Angeles for a tiny town in rural Northern California, nothing changed even as we settled into an agrarian lifestyle. We had a huge garden, raised livestock, lived off the land-which fed us as well as all the extended family, and brought in much needed supplemental income, as my father’s paycheck shrank considerably as we left city life behind-but then, my asthmatic bronchitis went away, too…

Our air here in the country was never brown, and our water came from our very own personal well, pure and ice-cold. We thrived-but we never forgot our environmentalist ways. We still conserved. We reused EVERYTHING we could. We grew our own food, made our own clothing, and always lived with emphasis on frugality.

Over the decades, the US government became a world leader in environmental progress, with extensive recycling systems, programs like Energy Star and tax credits for electric cars and solar installs, and actions like banning harmful pesticides and phasing out ozone depleting chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)…

Many experts now feel that the EPA has been a victim of its own success-it has done such a great job reversing the problems it was designed to solve, that people today-especially young people or people who live in rural areas and have never seen much pollution-have a hard time believing it was ever that bad. Trust me, it was. I saw rain so acidic it etched concrete. I saw brown blankets of smog hanging over my city-I choked on that smog EVERY DAY. I remember reading about the Cuyahoga River in the state of Ohio, which was so polluted it caught fire in 1969…a RIVER caught fire…

We have made tremendous progress, but we are now dealing with a government that has decided to take a regressive stance on environment, at a time when 97% of the world’s scientists say the planet is in dire peril. Sure, believing the environment-and our lives- are in grave danger due to pollution, climate change, and overpopulation is terrifying, but the science backs it up. The need for human action should no longer be a question but a certainty. With a government in place that is making every attempt at turning back our progress, accelerating us toward the unthinkable, we as citizens MUST counter that with a personal commitment to do everything we can for the planet. For ourselves, our kids, our grandkids…and all the kids to follow. We no longer have all the time in the world.

I’m not here to preach. If you’re reading this blog, you probably care about the environment-most people who don’t won’t read articles or blogs about the subject, as they feel they’re wasting their time. Maybe you’re new to green living, or maybe you’re quite seasoned, or somewhere in between. My aim here is to share my journey from consumer to green citizen. I’ll share personal stories, recipes, green products, DIY home and craft projects using recycled and/or reclaimed materials, news stories of interest and import, and maybe even some music, book, and movie recommendations. Hopefully you’ll find something useful and even fun here. I hope that what I share will be of help to others struggling with their conscience and wanting to care for the planet-after all, there is no Planet B. Earth is all we have, and it is high time we started to take care of her.

Welcome to the Greenizen. Hope to see you back here soon, and often!

~Kelly

 

 

 

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