What I’m Reading: A Friday Link Roundup

PVDSA’s Garish May Production Collapse – Caracas Chronicles
Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., Venezuela’s state-owned petroleum and gas company, has taken a hit to their daily oil production to the tune of 120,000 barrels. As the article states, this means that they “just declined by an amount similar to an entire (if small) petrostate’s production, in just one month.” The country is in crisis mode, complete with food shortages and rioting. At this rate, Venezuela could run out of oil within a few years.

Cows  on Antibiotics Release More Methane – Conservation Magazine
“Antibiotic use and overuse in livestock has long been controversial, as it has been linked to antibiotic resistance in humans. Livestock are regularly given antibiotics to keep them healthy in overcrowded or unsanitary conditions, or even to boost their growth. Now, a study published recently in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B has documented for the first time that antibiotics given to cows also increase the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from cow dung.”

Design For The One Percent – Jacobin
Jacobin on the role of “starchitects” like Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid and their works in a world full of government corruption, sketchy labor practices, and tremendous income inequality.

The dot on my forehead: how we understand the crisis is part of the crisis – Bayo Akomolafe
A Nigerian psychologist and activist on being participants in crises instead of observers: “It was something I heard one dissident professor say when I was an undergraduate studying psychology in a Nigerian university. He didn’t quite say it; he whispered it. When the white men came, they brought us schools and the bible, he intoned. And then we gave them our own stories. That colonial Faustian pact made us orphans in the world, erasing the sky and the lands and the mountains we had learned to speak with, and replacing that intimacy with the more appropriate gesture of staring at them through the microscope. Through the interstices of a ledger. Through the plot device of development and prosperity for all.”

The SNAP of Doom – The Daily Impact
Apparently SNAP/EBT benefits have not been going out to all of its intended recipients lately, and the mainstream news is not reporting this. Millions of Americans are just a few SNAP dollars away from a full-blown famine, and regardless of whether you think this is some grand conspiracy or simply the terrible result of a few cascading computer failures, this really does nicely illustrate just how few clothes the emperor is wearing. (As for a question of how do we feed people when the government can’t or won’t? Three words: Food Not Bombs!)

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What I’m Reading: A Friday Link Roundup

The Bernie Fade Begins – Counterpunch
Counterpunch on late-stage Bern symptoms.

How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist – Medium.com
An essay on just how the internet – mostly social media – has learned to manipulate you into being little more than a gambling addict. (Which is why I’m disappointed that the Zero Waste Bloggers Network communicates almost entirely over Facebook, which I am very happy to not be using anymore. A forum would have been better, in my opinion.)

Are Quinoa, Chia Seeds, and Other “Superfoods” a Scam? – Mother Jones
A short piece on why we pay attention when shit gets the “superfood” label… despite cheaper, more local, and more common vegetables having the same health benefits.

Unnecessariat – More Crows Than Eagles
There’s an epidemic going on in the US that nobody’s talking about: suicide and drug overdose rates have skyrocketed in rural America. Anne Amnesia, the blog’s author, has coined them the Unnecessariat, a demographic of the white, working-class poor for whom there are no activist organizations, no talking points, and not even the murmurings of a national dialogue. We’ve let them fall through the cracks, and while Trump pays lip service to these underserved populations, he is just as likely to cast them aside after he has their vote.

Solar Devices Industrial Infrastructure – Sunweb
A lengthy and very informative post on why solar is not green, is not sustainable, and is not likely to be a viable alternative to fossil fuels. The primary reason? Every step of manufacturing and maintenance requires fossil fuels and fossil-fuel-powered industrial infrastructure, and there is no evidence that a solar panel can be made without the use of fossil fuels at any point during the manufacturing process (including in the manufacturing of related tools and equipment), and that if it can, that the energy ROI is above zero.

Leaked figures show spike in palm oil use for biodiesel in Europe – The Guardian
“Steep rise between 2010 and 2014 shows link between EU’s renewable energy mandate and deforestation in south-east Asia, say campaigners”

Must-Watch Documentaries

It’s no small secret that I like documentaries. I keep tabs on sites like Top Documentary Films and Vimeo for new (free) releases, and almost my entire Netflix list consists of docs. So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve got a personal list of required watching for anyone interested in Zero Waste or learning about what the hell is going on with environmentalism these days and the geo-political forces it often goes toe-to-toe with. Here’s that list.

Blind Spot

There’s a lot of environmental films out there that while not painting a rosy picture still want us to feel a sense of hey things will still be ok, not so with Blind Spot. Director Adolfo Doring has, along with many of the scientists, economists and other experts, wisely decided that the time for coddling us is past, perhaps even too long past.

This is my number one. It’s incredibly sobering – perhaps especially for those of us drunk on mantras of “saving the world” – packed with facts, good cinematography, a whole rogues gallery of highly educated people with the ability to see the bigger picture. It touches on every other subject in this documentary list at least once, and it has no time to cater to assuaging eco-guilt. As one of the interviewees says at both the beginning and end of the film: “The world’s saying: look, you’ve got a choice. Either you can fix it, or I can fix it. And if I fix it, you’re not going to like it, because I’m going to throw everything away.”

Free to watch online.

No Impact Man

A newly self-proclaimed environmentalist who could no longer avoid pointing the finger at himself, Colin leaves behind his liberal complacency for a vow to make as little environmental impact as possible for one year.

The book is much better, but if you’re going to try and convey to someone what the ZW thing is in a short amount of time, this is it. It’s humanizing, inspiring, and even a little enlightening sometimes. Most importantly, though, the Beavans eventually learn that living like self-flagellating eco-monks doesn’t actually accomplish all that much, and wind up picking and choosing aspects of the lifestyle that are sustainable for them in the long run.

Preview only.

A Farm for the Future

With her father close to retirement, Rebecca returns to her family’s wildlife-friendly farm in Devon, to become the next generation to farm the land. But last year’s high fuel prices were a wake-up call for Rebecca. Realizing that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is.

Alarmed by the answers, she explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel. With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, Rebecca learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy future.

Free to watch online.

Flow: For the Love of Water

Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel.

Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question “CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?”

Free to watch online.

Sea the Truth

This is the planet we still know so little. We call it Earth but less than 1/3 is land, over 2/3 is water and we use that water as a dumping site for our waste and as if it’s an inexhaustible “horn of plenty” for humans. Our most important ecosystem is on the verge of collapse unless we act now. At this very moment the main problem with the oceans is that they’re getting emptier and emptier. If we don’t do anything then we face one of the biggest disasters in history of mankind.

If you look at the predators only about 90% of all predatory fish is gone. Then from all the other commercial fish species almost 80% is gone. The best thing to do to solve the problem is to quit eating fish.

Free to watch online.

DamNation

This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Dam removal has moved beyond the fictional Monkey Wrench Gang to go mainstream. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades without access. DamNation’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.

Preview only.

Maxed Out

Per its title, James D. Scurlock’s virulently angry muckraking documentaryMaxed Out examines the many problems associated with escalating U.S. consumer debt. Scurlock places his weightiest emphasis on the ends of the spectrum rooted in extreme evil (read: abuse) – such as the capital lenders who wheedle poor farm families into assuming unmanageable loans and college students into placing massive amounts on credit cards.

Free to watch online.

The Ascent of Money

Professor Niall Ferguson examines the origins of the pillars of the world’s financial system, and how behind every great historical phenomenon – empires and republics, wars and revolutions – there lies a financial secret.

This is a longdocumentary (though not the longest on here), told in six parts and coming in at around 5 hours long. Its different segments cover the history of credit, the rise of the bond market since the Italian Renaissance, the whys and wherefores of boom and bust cycles, the origins of insurance, an inside and historical look at the US housing crisis, and the current financial relationship between China and the US, respectively.

Free to watch online.

Collapse

Meet Michael Ruppert, a different kind of American. A former Lost Angeles police officer turned independent reporter, he predicted the current financial crisis in his self-published newsletter. From the Wilderness, at a time when most Wall Street and Washington analysts were still in denial. Director Chris Smith has shown an affinity for outsiders in films like American Movie and The Yes Men. In Collapse, he departs stylistically from his past documentaries by interviewing Ruppert in a format that recalls the work of Errol Morris and Spalding Gray.

Full disclosure: I liked Michael Ruppert. He did important work in the peak oil scene, and the world lost a good voice when he took his own life a few years ago. It’s very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of his thoughts and predictions, and come away from this piece a little depressed and a little disoriented, but pay attention to the things he says at the end, because community and friendship will be the things that get us through whatever is it that will come our way, whenever it comes.

Free to watch online.

Counter-Intelligence: Shedding a Light on Black Operations

If you can argue that this is one long documentary rather than a series, then it’s definitely the longest I’ve ever sat down to watch. All together, it’s just short of 7 hours, and in my opinion, it’s required viewing. The general thrust is that it lays out the history of the CIA since it grew out of the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, during WW2. Geo-political relationships are an absolutely vital key to understanding why it seems nations the world over pay little more than mere lip service to the collapse of our biosphere, and understanding the CIA is key to understanding those relationships. From covert projects in oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, to the deliberate manufacture of state enemies (Does anyone reading this remember or know about the green scare? I sure hope so!) and black flag operations used to discredit enemies and provide reason for invading, the CIA has played no small part in ushering in the age of oil, consumer capitalism, perpetual war, and ecosystem destruction.

Free to watch online.

The Zuckerberg Donation and a Legacy of Control

When I was very young, my parents used to tell me why having “lots of toys” wasn’t a good idea. “The more you have, the more you want,” they would say. I didn’t have many toys — we were poor — so the idea of possessions feeding greed didn’t make much sense to me then.

But I’ve learned the truth of that statement from observation over the years and lately I’ve been observing Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg is a 31-year-old computer programmer who did two things that made him famous: he founded Facebook, the social networking super service, and, as a result, he amassed a fortune worth about $46 billion. His bank account is as large as the capitalization of many countries.

The Zuckerberg Family

The Zuckerberg Family

How he got to these lofty heights of wealth and cultural impact is a matter of often fierce debate — he’s been sued by former “partners” several times. But what’s more important than how he got control of Facebook is what he’s constructed with it: a ubiquitous presence in the lives of a billion people with the potential to frame and manipulate their communications, their relationships and, to a frighteningly large extent, their lives.

So last month, when Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced in a letter to their new baby — a rather novel way to package a press release — that, over the course of their lives, they will give almost all their Facebook shares to a project called the Chan Zuckerberg Iniative, the world took note.

The Initiative, they explained, would “advance human potential and promote equality” in health, education, scientific research, and energy. In short, change the world: on its face, a worthy cause. But, like many of Zuckerberg’s plans and projects, this one has another side that is darker, more cynical and, even if only partially successful, a potential nightmare for the human race.

A good, short, piece that explains why philanthropy and charity will never, ever fundamentally change the lots of the world’s poor and destitute. That the only way to do what Zuckerberg claims he wants to accomplish is to somehow build a world in which the rich don’t – can’t – exist. Consider this a companion to People Will Not Buy Zero Waste Until They Can Afford It.

Read more at This Can’t Be Happening!

People Will Not Buy Zero Waste Until They Can Afford It

For those of you who’ve gone on the record and said that going zero waste “isn’t expensive”, I want you to answer two questions:

How much money does your household make in a year, and where do you live?

The answers you give can mean the difference between bamboo and plastic toothbrushes; shrink-wrapped non-organic produce and farmer’s markets; municipal recycling programs or none at all. The answers you give can mean the difference between access to a grocery store period… or being awash in a gray sea of convenience stores.

accessinfographic595 I make well-below the poverty line in annual wages (despite being a college graduate who is overqualified to work in most basic positions), and if I didn’t have family willing to take me in, or a spouse to support me (which he can do in a very limited capacity until I am a legal resident of Canada), I would be homeless. If this makes you uncomfortable, good. I say this to remind you that there are millions of people in my shoes, and worse – we are not merely statistics for you to prattle off at university lectures or on message boards. We are real people, and surprisingly enough, many of us are very concerned about the environment, but our lack of stable work or housing means that most conventional – by US standards – activism is beyond our reach. (And for me as an anarchist, I’m not interested in most reformist activism anyway. I want to see entire institutions burned to the ground, and buying $30 water bottles won’t accomplish that.)

The thing is this: when we talk about zero waste being cheap, who is it cheap for? And where? When we talk about it “saving” the environment (even though personal lifestyles have never won a single victory in the history of eco-justice movements), who’s environment will it be saving?

Part of the reason – actually, the main reason – that I’m pro-littering when it comes to areas dominated by middle- and upper-class people, no matter what region or country, is because this undermines the NIMBYism inherent to much of the mainstream conception of what it means to be environmentally-friendly and “sustainable”. It undermines the stock we put in the very notion of lifestyles at all – for some reason, we have it in our heads that making the right purchases and taking pretty pictures for our blogs is all we’ll ever need to do to reverse climate change. When we blow this particular category of action out of proportion, then of of course caving in and buying a bag of potato chips or cuppa joe in a paper cup feels like you’ve let down the entire world.

In my piece on littering, I recall the history of just how the world’s actual polluters got us to start blaming ourselves for their messes:

…Keep America Beautiful, obviously the first and most influential of the anti-littering movements, was founded by a group of key players in the beverage industry, who were beginning to see bad publicity when their products were turning up on roadsides and in ditches all over the country. […]

So like any good capitalist, these businessmen sought to hand the responsibility over to the unwitting public, rather than deal with the repercussions of their manufacturing practices, or – god forbid – face government regulation. According to them, “People start pollution, [and] people can stop it.”

Zero wasters who want to see an end to the convenience store and what it represents have their hearts in the right place… for the most part. But they fail to perceive and understand the world beyond their own backyard, from the comfort of their chic, urban apartments or mortgaged single-family homes. When I first read Zero Waste Home, there was no mention of who the book was for – though the cover could have told me – and yet, its content assumed that I had access to a Whole Foods, and access to the disposable income to shop there. Among other things.

The ironic part is that I do – and that’s precisely because I don’t make enough to pay rent. If I did, I’d have no money to buy any food with!

To be quite blunt, attempting to do some zero waste shopping here in Vancouver the other day is what spurred this post. I wanted to buy some oil, so I looked at the prices at the two stores I know sell bulk EVOO, and they were phenomenal. $12-15 per 100ml is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a staple that gets used on a near-daily basis. Or how about peanut butter: I could pay $6 for a little over a cup of peanut butter from the grinding machine at WF, or I could buy four times that much for $8 from a local co-op even though it comes in a plastic jar.

It’s a no brainer.

East Vancouver is not a food desert by any means, and for that I’m grateful. But Glendora, the California city where I’ll be living with my mother for a little while, is. There is no walking in Glendora, no curbside pick-up for recyclables, the transit options are pitiful, there is no infrastructure to support bicycling, and the nearest farmer’s market is in the next town over. I will need to get into a car to buy groceries, or I don’t buy groceries at all.

Out of sheer necessity, my zero waste efforts will be curtailed tremendously. I will be throwing recyclable materials in the garbage. But most importantly, I will buy food where it is feasible for me to do so. If that means Stater Bros., then unfortunately, Stater Bros. it is. At least I’m not stuck trying to feed a family from the local 7-Eleven.

What would happen if, every time we were tempted to denigrate ourselves over a single soda can or candy wrapper, we instead decided to remember that millions of people in the US (and Canada) have no choice in the matter? That, instead, we started talking about ways to put an end to food deserts and poverty-stricken communities’ reliance on convenience stores? Or talked about how ridiculous it is that we’re willing to pay $7-8/lb for salad bar cherry tomatoes or hummus because the plastic clamshell or tub would weigh too heavily on our conscience? (To say nothing of how a clamshell of tomatoes gets a more visceral reaction than, for instance, US foreign policy.)

I’m sure some of you are wondering why it is I continue to blog under the term “zero waste”.

Honestly, this is because I still believe in it – nature has no concept of waste, and neither should we. It is the only mark of a truly holistic community of organisms and resources. Just because I believe that most other lifestylers are misguided in their understanding and intentions, I’m not going to give it up.

To me, zero waste is about habits. It’s about fighting capitalist culture through the language of garbage, by-product, and so-called “innovation”. It’s a way to foster healthy boundaries in my work and relationships. It’s a way for me to understand myself as a steward, not an owner, of things. It’s a way to reject the encroachment of consumerism and voyeur culture on my life. It’s a way for me to reject the notion of disposability in every facet of life and society: no person is disposable, no thought or feeling is (or ought to be) disposable, no action is disposable. There is no throwing anything “away”, whether opinions or onion skins, and we need systems – cultural habits – in place to ease their decomposition and re-use.

If zero waste means little more than a hoard of $15 canning jars and an Apartment Therapy house tour, I’m going to go on record to say that you’ve got your priorities all mixed up.

Interview: “Of Limits and Growth: The Rise of Global Sustainable Development in the Twentieth Century”

This is a podcast episode from the New Books Network, which is a series of podcasts that interview authors of interesting new books in just about every field imaginable.

The featured book in this episode, Of Limits and Growth: The Rise of Global Sustainable Development in the Twentieth Century, is about something that the vast majority of western environmentalists (yo, zero wasters, you’re very guilty here too) are either willingly or unwittingly ignorant of: the historical relationship between monied western countries and those in the developing world in terms of the 20th century environmentalist push.

Just to sort of set the scene for this history, the modern environmentalist movement, and even the World Wildlife Fund, was founded by a prominent eugenicist and colonialist. 

So if you’re interested in “””sustainability””” or whatever, please for the love of kale, listen to the podcast. Or better, get the book.

Today, sustainability is all the rage.  But when and why did the idea of sustainable development emerge, and how has its meaning changed over time?

Stephen Macekura’s new book, Of Limits and Growth: The Rise of Global Sustainable Development in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2015) explores this question by connecting three of the most important aspects of the twentieth century: decolonization, the rise of environmentalism, and the pursuit of economic development and modernization in the Third World.  Macekura, who is an Assistant Professor of International Studies at Indiana University, demonstrates how environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attempted to promote environmental protection in the post-colonial world, then, after failing to do so, challenged the economic development approaches of the United States, World Bank, and United Nations.  The book reveals how environmental activists initially conceived of “sustainable development” as a way to link environmental protection with Third World concerns about equality and justice in the global economy, but how, over time, the phrase’s meaning moved far away from this initial conception.

In addition to exploring the idea of “sustainable development,” Macekura also examines the growth and limits of the environmental movement’s power. He pays close attention to how international political disputes have scuttled major global treaties over issues such as climate change; he also documents the evolution of international development politics and policy since 1945. In sum, Of Limits and Growth offers a new history of sustainability by elucidating the global origins of environmental activism, the ways in which environmental activists challenged development approaches worldwide, and how environmental non-state actors reshaped the United States’ and World Bank’s development policies.

Embracing Ugly Food

IMG_20151106_110216

As “eco-friendly”, and “green” as I thought I was, I didn’t actually learn to truly respect food until about this time last year, when I started volunteering at my local food pantry at Friends In Deed (which I’ll likely do again for the 5 weeks I’ll be back in LA next month).

At the pantry, we received a lot of ugly food. Food that’d been battered and smashed, food that hadn’t made it to the store shelves in time, food that sat on the shelves a little too long. There wasn’t a week that would go by without at least a truck or two delivering entire bushel boxes’ worth of quickly spoiling produce, and it was up to us volunteers working in the back to make sure that as much of it as possible wound up in the hands of the poor and hungry who were lined up outside.

If I’m honest, I have to say that my time there was so memorable and fun thanks, in no small part, to the other volunteers, who were often almost as poor as those lining up outside. I’d take those women’s company over a monied, “eco-minded” blogger any day. They were bringing their lived experience to their work there, and it was amazing just to be around them. One of the women would tell us about what it was like to grow up poor in Mexico, and how, even when her family had barely anything to eat, if there were bugs in the rice, then there’d be no rice. (We heard this story during a period of a few months where we were getting regular deliveries of 50-pound bags of jasmine rice that we would painstakingly comb through, looking for bugs. Most of them had bugs.) Or, in another favorite moment of mine, how another woman, when faced with bushels upon bushels of moldy sweet potatoes, grabbed a knife, and just started hacking off the moldy parts since most of each potato was still perfectly edible.

So it wasn’t until there that I really saw the potential, the beauty, and the life that was still present in ugly, unsalable food. I learned to get over my superficial squeamishness; learned to artfully ignore expiration dates; and when I started taking home some of the produce we’d worked so hard to process, learned to cook with the ugly food and appreciate it in just the same way as the people lining up outside.

See, ugly food forces you to be resourceful. It forces you to respect the food on its own terms. If its moldy, eat around the mold. If it’s squished, prepare it differently than you otherwise would. If it’s spoiling quickly, enjoy it now. 

This is how much of the world still eats, and how the whole world ate up until about 100 years ago. You didn’t just throw out a head of cauliflower because it looked weird, and ran off to the store to replace it with a shiny new one. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have let the cauliflower get that far to begin with. Food was precious. It still is.

For now, I’m bartering with some of our neighbors, and this is what most of the produce I get looks like: I give them homemade vegan cheese, they give us entire grocery bags of organic produce. Our neighbor actually gets paid in grocery store seconds from a tutoring job she does, and some of it is too far gone for them to even get to in time. So off to us it comes.

And while I’m definitely not perfect, and while some of it still winds up going bad before I can use it, I still use as much of it as I can, because that’s how you respect your food. That’s what we do in exchange for what it does for us.

 

#4Liters Post-Game

It’s been almost a week since my last day of the challenge, and I’m still thinking about what doing it meant, if anything. I don’t think I’ve technically “completed” the challenge yet, because I haven’t uploaded a photo and video yet, but I just don’t really know what to feature. I still have my bottle and jug, I could probably show off the amount of water they hold– it’s one thing to read “1 liter”, it’s another thing to actually see what that means.

But in the end, I think I can say I really just learned one thing from all this:

Living in water poverty is easy when you’re not also living in financial poverty.

That’s about all there is to the whole thing. Support water sovereignty, fight poverty, destroy capitalism.

Have I changed any habits? A few, I think… I’m getting into the habit of only using running water from the shower head to wash my hair, keeping the drain closed so that I can do everything else–shave, especially–with the water gathered in the tub. I’ve also stopped using my old pans, instead using the cast iron Lodge one exclusively. No washing necessary!

Other than that, there’s not much else I can do to use less water. I’m using practically nothing compared to most other people already, been doing it for months, and see no reason I’d need to stop.

What can you do to use less water? What can you do to raise awareness about water poverty?

#4Liters Days 4-6

I think I was expecting more from this.

I was expecting it to be hard, grueling, time-consuming. But it’s not. I can only make my day-to-day life so inconvenient, you know? No matter what I do, the faucets will be there to refill my gallon jug in the morning. The water that comes out of the tap will be impeccably clean– I won’t have to worry about it killing me.

I was already doing my laundry by hand, what’s cutting down the water usage? The big leap of not using the machine to get my clothes clean has already been made. I’ve already begun rediscovering low-tech and manual alternatives to many conveniences of the western world and integrating them into my life. Is that what messes most people up when they do the 4 Liters challenge?

For me this has been learning on two diametrically opposed fronts (or rather, two sides of the same coin): 1. that I will never be able to replicate the life of someone living in water poverty on the other side of the globe, and that they need real water sovereignty NOW, and 2. still, we here in the affluent West can, and ought to, do so many things to waste less. Humans have an impeccable ability to adapt to doing without. Have you ever heard someone talk about not “knowing” that they were poor growing up, but were happy anyways? We all have that in us.

What would it look like infrastructurally if we were to start finding wasted water as abhorrent as we find animal abuse? What would our kitchens and bathrooms look like in that world? What would our sunscreen be made out of? What would our cars run on?

Getting my fellow Westerners to waste less water has absolutely no bearing on water poverty in developing nations, has no bearing on corporate waste, the waste of big ag, or the enclosing of the water commons around the world by exploitative capitalist scum. But maybe not just raising awareness about the preciousness of water, but calling for the development of a mindful relationship with the water in our lives, the building of a foundation of a praxis, can help to turn our actions outward. And maybe, eventually, we’ll start making demands.

#4Liters Day 3

Not much to report here. Didn’t shower today, didn’t cook today, but I did accidentally leave the skillet out with crud on it so now I’ve got to use extra water to clean it. If only I’d taken my own advice and wiped it down right after eating!

Once again I’m left with an extra 2+ liters of water, though, which will come in handy when I scrub down tomorrow.

Started to wonder today why, exactly, this whole thing felt so easy. It shouldn’t feel easy. It shouldn’t feel relatively stress-free. People in Burkina Faso just barely eke out a living on a gallon of water per person per day and here I am, going about my first world business, wondering why…

…oh right, it’s because I’m in the first world, dur.

I don’t have to set aside a half liter of water to make bread. Or a whole liter to make a pot of rice. Or nervously part with some for my goat so she can give me milk. I have a (relatively) climate-controlled environment that allows me to be in my home without getting hot and losing precious moisture. I have potable–potable! water! wonder of wonders!–coming out of every faucet in the house, clean so that I don’t have to live with diarrhea or something worse that makes dehydration all the easier to achieve. I don’t have to spend hours of my day going to go get the water.

Tomatoes use tons of water; beets too. And by eating them when, say, my father treats me to dinner at a vegan restaurant, I get that moisture. And for every bite I take of juicy fruit or vegetable, that’s one less sip of water I need to drink later. I have simply outsourced my water acquisition, cheating in a way that I could never set straight.

The challenge was always a farce– I knew it was. But now I’m beginning to understand how much of a farce it is. And still, I will continue to play at water poverty. For some reason, I have to keep trying.