078: When Did Polluting Become Normal? (transcript)
Chris Rock has a routine I find hilarious on people trying to get credit for things that he thinks they ought to do. Iâ€™ll put a link to it. It’s not safe for work because there’s a lot of cursing but I think youâ€™ll find it funny. One of the examples he gives is people saying, â€œAt least I’m not stealing.â€ He says, â€œYou’re not supposed to steal. You don’t get credit for not stealing.â€ People come over to my place and when they hear that I haven’t thrown up my garbage in over I think it’s 16 months now, they react, â€œOh, I’m so impressed. That’s so good.â€ To say that not polluting is good does that not imply that polluting is normal? When did not polluting become praiseworthy? When did polluting become normal? When did we lose our value for cleanliness, purity, responsibility and integrity? How normal is it for you to throw trash out? Or for that matter, to buy something that you don’t need to get garbage around – disposable coffee cups, disposable napkins, taking stuff you don’t need?
Now you might say these little things, that’s not much of a big deal. The more I look at the stuff, the more that I find it’s not how much you throw away or not. At the beginning it’s a matter of skills. Do you exercise the skills of not polluting, of not getting garbage that you don’t need, of not making the world less clean and pure than it could be? Because once the skills kick in, you might start the skills on small things but then you apply them to the bigger and bigger and bigger things. I have a client who works for a major oil company. He started polluting less in his house, next thing you know he finds he can start making decisions in his house. Except now with the oil company for all of Latin America that’s what happens when you develop these skills. Anyway.
I wonâ€™t lie. For me at the beginning to go for a year without producing one bag of landfill garbage that would have been unbelievable to me as well. Now that I’ve been doing it for a while and I think of my peers like Bea Johnson, who’s been a guest on the podcast, she produces, her whole family of four produces less than a jar of garbage per year. So they’re way less than I do. For someone to say â€œI’m so impressed that you don’t produce all this garbageâ€ for me it’s like visiting your home and saying, â€œI’m so impressed that your house is not overrun with rats and cockroaches.â€ How do you not have garbage and food all of your house? How do you not just have food all over the floor? Only I treat the space we all share the way I treat my own house which is to say I don’t want to produce, I don’t want to put garbage anywhere. I like it clean and pure. But since future generations have to deal with our mess what I say next may sound over-the-top and if I offend people with this, I offend people with this. But what we pollute the world with future generations have to deal with and so to me sometimes it feels like I live in a world in which everyone punches their kid and I’m one of the ones who doesn’t punch their kid and everyone is like, â€œWow, that’s so impressive. How do you not punch your kid? Maybe I should not punch my kid but I can’t see how not to. So I’ll just keep punching my kid.â€ It’s not hard not to punch your kid. It’s not hard not to pollute. Should I be impressed that your teeth aren’t all falling out, that you brush your teeth every day? Iâ€™ve seen my nieces and nephews not want to brush. My sister and my brother-in-law they have to get them to brush their teeth. You probably had to work at it too. You probably didn’t want to brush your teeth. You probably brush your teeth every day now, maybe twice a day. It’s not that big of a deal. You can do it.
And you know this crazy side effect of not getting all this packaged food you know I do get some packaged food. I’m not perfect. Not that it’s a matter of perfection. The side effect of not getting packaged food is I spend less on food. I eat more volume of food. I get to eat more food and it’s more delicious than ever. It’s more social. Last night a friend was in my neighborhood. She was like, â€œCan I come by and have some food?â€ Next weekend I’m going to go visit the farm and meet the farmers again where most of my food comes from. This is very social. It’s more convenient. I spend less time cooking, less time cleaning and I’ve probably less than 10 percent body fat. This should be impossible by the diet industry standards, by all the books and so forth that you spend less, it’s more convenient, eat more and lose fat. Instead it’s easy. My recommendation: stop viewing packaged food as normal. I don’t see why we should be impressed by someone not polluting and say that’s good.
Why does that not normalize polluting? I view polluting like blowing smoke in a baby’s face. You know the phrase like stealing candy from a baby. It’s funny because stealing candy from a baby probably improves that baby’s life. How about not blowing smoke in the baby’s face? Or in any of the air that the baby’s going to breathe. Or throwing your trash in the baby’s cradle or any place that baby is going to play and live. Let’s keep it clean. Let’s not consider polluting normal and not polluting good. Let’s normalize not polluting. Let’s normalize a clean, pure environment, clean and pure air, water, and land.
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