By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES— Carbon footprints. Global warming. Recycling. Sustainable lifestyles.
They’re more than buzz words now. There are encouraging signs that ecological concerns are finally going mainstream.
I started thinking about the greening of America while I was bundling up all of my newspapers for recycling.
I’ve always felt a bit guilty about being in a business that consumes so many trees.
It made me feel a little better to work for Media News Group, where, I discovered, one of the chain’s founders, Dick Scudder, is also a founder of the concept of recycling newspapers and co-inventor of a de-inking process that makes it easier to stretch more life out of the trees that made the Sun-News edition you’re reading now.
Or maybe no trees gave their lives to bring you the news today, and you’re seeing this online, like am increasing number of our readers. We’re posting over 1,300,000 hits a month online these days, and while I get an occasional twinge remembering the old local presses I have bid adieu, and the great guys who ran them, my tree-hugging self rejoices.
As a longtime journalist, I’ve had a front row seat for the greening of American attitudes. It actually started back in my Michigan childhood, when I was born into a family of avid ecologists. We called ourselves conservationists then, and even the most avid Republican members of the tribe were into preserving and creating wilderness areas. We were taught that vigilance is the price of liberty, and cleanup and maintenance duties were our responsibility for enjoying the beautiful lands of this country. On day-long river canoe trips and hikes through woodlands and beaches, we were expected to clean up after ourselves and others, taking along litter bags to pick up cans and plastics and do our best to remove any evidence of the carnage of less considerate humans who had gone before us.
So it was closer to first than second-nature to move as a young adult to Oregon, which was progressive in ecological activism. Portland then boasted more wilderness area within city limits than any metropolitan area in the country, and those areas were pristine and unlittered. Oregon had some of the first natural food co-ops, recycling centers and bottle deposit laws. Sometimes, when I see cans and bottles littering desert areas far more fragile than Oregon’s lush woodlands, I find it hard to believe that New Mexico hasn’t gotten around to a mandatory container deposit law, all these long decades later.
But I see signs of hope in the consciousness of a new generation. And I realize that personally, everyday measures, like recycling, replacing all my bulbs with compact florescents, and shutting off the running water while I brush my teeth, have become as automatic and painless as, well, brushing my teeth.
I can recognize natural fibers by touch, now, but I admit I was surprised to read the tag on my cuddly new nightgown from Dilliard’s and find it was blend of cotton and — get this — soybean protein fiber. Press releases for all kinds of groups and events now proudly announce that they are going green, recycling and cutting down on unnecessary extras. Restaurants offer healthy organic choices. We’re recognizing that a healthier world starts with ourselves and our families.
We have a long way to go, and the planet is truly in peril. But we’re waking up and greening up, and finally beginning to recognize that every day should be Earth Day.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at email@example.com