josh barkey: plastic extremist

I know it's called North Carolina, but I have to admit I always kinda hope the Carolina part will win out, and I won't have to deal with any of that wintery-type stuff.

I was raised in the Amazon, after all, so it's always annoying on mornings (such as today's) when I have to use my key-card from work to scrape ice off my car's windshield. The ice flakes up over my fingers, and since my heater went mostly out a couple days ago, I end up driving pretty much all the way to work before I get feeling back in all my fingers.

So why, you might ask, would I use my key-card to scrape my windshield? Why not buy some cheap, piece-of-crap scraper with a handle?

The answer is simple: I'm an extremist.

I take a basic, straightforward statement like, "I care about the earth and don't believe in defiling my own nest," and get all crazy about it - taking it to lengths no sane person ever would. I don't buy an ice-scraper because ice scrapers are made of plastic, and will therefore one day end up in a landfill, or the Pacific Ocean. Not only that, but I also strive to avoid buying any and all other plastic objects if there is ever a way to do without, even though I know that if everybody did what I do and stopped buying unnecessary plastic garbage, the global economy would collapse and millions of people (including me, probably) would probably die of starvation. See what I mean...? Nuts.

What makes it even more nuts is that I know I can't win. I know I'm not really making a significant dent, and I know that to live in this culture without going completely off-the-grid granola and dying of an infection from a tooth abscess at the age of thirty-six, I am going to have to make countless compromises. I still do my little acts of stubbornness, though, because this nagging voice inside my head keeps telling me that the only thing worse than taking pointless, stubborn little steps toward a goal I'll never reach is to simply sit down, roll over, and give up. And to quote Winston Churchill, I will "never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever ever give up."

Frozen fingers it is, then. Stubborn, stupid, ineffectual frozen fingers. Old Winnie would be proud. 


  1. I feel the same way ... my husband is more of the why bother way of thinking, since our individual voluntary actions are such tiny drops in the bucket. I hate throwing out food scraps that could turn into compost but he's vetoed the urban compost idea I had for our balcony. I have to say it feels awesome not even to own a car right now, and I reuse as much as I can. There's no recycling program in Tirana so that makes it harder too.

  2. Ah, marriage: where we learn again and again that principles are something we have to be willing to give up when we really, really love someone.


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