Animal Prisons

December 27, 2007

smalllion.jpgThe concept of putting wild animals in cages for the enjoyment of people has always made me sad, and more than a little disgusted. Circuses, zoos and rodeos top the list of things that horrify me but are deemed ‘entertainment’ to other people, and i’ve never really understood it.

Last year I urged our local free paper (not the local ‘news’ paper) to do an article on how the rodeo is akin to dogfighting in its gross mistreatment of animals, but the editor told me to write it myself and send it in. Obviously, I am no journalist and thus deleted his response without a second thought.

But now I read the headlines about a tiger escaping from it’s pen and killing someone, I feel compelled to revisit my awful feelings of horror that scream ‘why the hell are we surprised when a wild animal breaks free from it’s prison and mauls someone’. Why do people find pleasure in strolling through caged arenas of animals that should be free?

I’m not a total party pooper, I have a child who I am certain would love seeing all the animals in a circus or zoo. But I can’t pretend that these places don’t send a message to her, one that says we humans still see ourselves as superior creatures, ones who have the right to mistreat others for our own gain.

If we don’t eat the animals because they are penned up and mistreated in confined feedlots, why would we go see them locked away in cages at a zoo just for fun?

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Waste and More Waste

December 26, 2007

smallcreditcard.jpgThere is nothing green about Christmas.

Of course, the tree, the wreaths, the lights, I get it, but as far as consuming less goes, it’s almost the antithesis of Christmas spirit.

We tried to do what we could: opted for the handed down fake tree, warned the rellies to scale back on purchases, suggested that one gift per person was more than enough, even asked my brother-in-law to buy ‘family’ gifts instead of individually.

We skipped the traditional feast in light of our vegetarianism and enjoyed Christmas Eve fondue with tofu and dipping sauces. We had a simple Christmas breakfast with lots of organic fruit and fake sausage. But at the end of it all, it’s just over-the-top, indulgent, gotta have just one more piece, rubbish.

Piles of cardboard boxes, packing peanuts and plastic bags are clogging the foyer. Junky little trinkets litter the coffee table. And the toys? I can’t even begin to list the things that were purchased for my two year old, but i’ll mention for the sake of clarification, a laptop. It seems the best solution to global warming is to not be wasteful. A brand new, plastic shelled computer is certainly not part of that paradigm.

Is it fair to my daughter to prohibit our family from buying her Christmas gifts because we don’t believe in the consumerism? Or is it unfair to let our daughter believe that on this one occasion we can behave as if we are not facing an environmental apocalypse?

When will we stop thinking the measure of love is in the material things we give and receive?

Greening the Tree

December 5, 2007

smallchristmasangel.jpgWe have a family tradition at Christmas time that entails hiking into National Forest Service land and cutting down our own special tree. Then, when the tree has dropped all it’s needles onto my living room carpet, we tie it to the roof of the car and drop it off for the city to grind up and make fertilizer in the spring.

Well, this year, in light of my born-again environmentalism, cutting down a tree just doesn’t seem appropriate. My husband lobbied hard for ‘the tradition’, claiming there were plenty of trees here in Colorado etc., but for me it felt hypocritical and just plain wrong.

I searched the internet for a recycled aluminum tree and had absolutely no luck. I cannot believe with the amount of tin cans that go to the recycling center every day, nobody has thought to make a christmas tree out of them.

On our weekly video call with my dad, he mentioned that he had a fake tree in a box sitting in the basement. With all the kids grown, he didn’t want to bother putting it up, and since he had already spent the money buying it and getting it from China, I considered this the most ‘green’ option for our family.

I’ve never been a fan of fake trees, and in my 20’s would have scoffed at the notion. But as my dad recently said in an email, the person who leaves the biggest footprint is no longer the winner.

A new tradition is born.