Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Honey or Vinegar?

A piece that was part eulogy, part editorial ran in today's Nashua Telegraph, written by veteran environmental reporter, David Brooks. In it, he bares his soul,
I confess that despite my willingness to spend time and money on home efficiency – including installing a solar water heater on the roof long before the state gave rebates for it, which has helped cut our electricity use in half over four years – my household is a PLL failure. We haven’t reduced our dryer use at all.
Hauling wet clothes downstairs and outdoors is such a hassle and hanging them on a line inside the (largely unheated) guest room next to the washroom dries them so slowly that I’ve occasionally had to rewash cotton T-shirts that started smelling musty.
Those are feeble excuses; after all, my little old grandmother dried clothes on a line all her life. Laziness has won out, I fear.
If Project Laundry List sticks around and gets stronger, though, maybe it will convince me.
I am all full of piss and vinegar as I read this epitaph. It is an epitaph not so much for Project Laundry List, but for a nation that has seen "the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness."

As I head to China, where the government sometimes just tells you what to do imperially and imperiously, I must say that I am tired of the Project Laundry List approach that I have tirelessly espoused--the "positive approach to change" baloney; the no guilt trip for you; it is all about choices, honey, and you are doing some good things for which we are very proud of you. 

Only in a country where everybody is supposedly accepted and free (everybody's mind is so open, their brains are falling out) would a whole branch of psychology develop to look at social marketing and behavioral economics. Only in a nation oblivious to the most obvious of inconvenient truths would there be an annual conference put on by ACEEE that deals with tactics for behavior change. When is it going to be all right to say, you know what you need to do, dammit, stop with the excuses and get to work? I hope that day is coming.


  1. I agree with you - just sent him an email. If he wants to forego line drying, I am not so ok with it but it's on his conscience but does he have to publicly disparage line drying? It's giving an excuse to all kinds of people who really don't need another excuse. It reminds me of people who don't breastfeed their children, not because they tried and just couldn't but because it's "icky" or "inconvenient." And then they don't keep quiet about it but they spread the word that there is something wrong about it.

    The problem with letting people decide some of these things is that eventually we will all pay for a lot of socially irresponsible decisions of others. Where to draw the line is really the trick and in all the centuries that man has been on earth and all the political theorists, philosophers etc who have expounded upon the relationship of the people to the government have not really ever satisfactorily resolved this question.

    Unfortunately, it's becoming quite urgent that we all either suck it up and start hauling laundry and quite a lot of other things (like ourselves) around rather than relying on fossil fuels, or we won't have any choice soon.

  2. Paradigms are odd things. We see the world the way WE are, and it is a head-scratching moment when we run up against someone whose paradigm is fundamentally awry from our own. Take the case of a parent who is cruel and emotionally abusive to a young child. Eh??? "How can this be," some of us think. So, the fight is to make things SO clear and obvious, that others experience a mighty paradigm shift. THAT is a very tall order.

  3. The best emailed comment I got from that article suggested that I stop buying cotton clothing, and spend more on fabrics which dry easily.

    It was like the Appalachian Mountain Club's "avoid killer cotton" warnings to White Mountain hikers, brought to the home.

    - Dave Brooks


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