Readers talk back about lawns, eco-vandalism, labor/enviro alliances, and more
Thank you for putting the difficult topic of eco-vandalism up front. Unfortunately, it was disappointing to read yet another article calling eco-vandalism “eco-terrorism.” The term could hardly be more inaccurate: vandalism damages objects; terrorism kills people.
As a fast-growing and visible news outlet, Grist has the power and the responsibility to set the language used for environmental reporting. The activists described in the article are breaking the law, but they are not creating terror. Stop giving spin artists like John Stokes what they want by equating the most audacious environmentalists to murderers. They are eco-vandals, and their method is eco-vandalism.
The French weren’t first to approve a green amendment to their constitution. Check out, for example, the Montana constitution, which guarantees “the right to a clean and healthful environment.” I dare you to call any of my Montana brethren cheese-eating surrender monkeys. They come out shooting.
Carrie La Seur
Mount Vernon, Iowa
Re: Solar Derby
“Solar Derby” describes a promising effort in California to step up the use of residential solar power. But the piece targets a push for prevailing wages as the reason the legislation may fail. I would suggest that failure to envision decent wages as part of a long-term environmental and economic sustainability program is the more likely culprit. Good wages and environmental progress are not incompatible. See the California Labor/Environmental Solar Energy Project.
I want to make people aware of another option for washing and drying clothes. I bought an energy-efficient, front-loading washing machine (second-hand of course) that also dries clothes. It doesn’t require a dryer vent, just a drain. It washes a good-sized (though not full-sized) amount of clothes. You put in dirty clothes and out come dry, clean clothes, so it’s perfect for lazy people.
There is a consideration Umbra overlooked when she discouraged a reader from purchasing a front-loading washing machine. You don’t have to replace your clothing, towels, and sheets as often when using a front-loading washing machine because they are gentler on fabrics. This saves the environment in so many ways, and it saves money.
It’s great that Umbra suggested that if a reader decided to buy a new energy-efficient washer, she should pass on her still-good one to someone who could use it. But not all of us know someone who would want/need a used washer. Umbra should have mentioned Freecycle.org; it’s a great way to find someone who needs exactly what you have to give away.
Umbra advised on several ways to mow the “required” lawn of a reader. However, there are other ways to lessen your mowing needs. Besides planting shorter grass, you can rework your yard into beautiful landscaping. Our yard (never big to begin with) has probably lost half of its grass over the past several years as we’ve scraped out the straggly grass and replaced it with wonderful flowering plants, decorative grasses, and mulched areas. Watering needs are lower, beauty is up, and mowing is down. Now a rotor mower or weed-whacker and a half an hour is all that is needed.
It would have been helpful to point out that most of the cost of wind generation is capital cost with comparatively low operational costs. The converse is true of fossil-fuel-fired generation — comparatively little of the cost of the generated electricity is capital cost, while a much higher percentage is operating costs (primarily the cost of the fossil fuel).
Thus, any utility with wind turbines in its generating base has a strong economic incentive to dispatch all its available wind-generated power ahead of any fossil-fuel-generated power. So today, economics ensures that wind generation does truly displace fossil fuel (though, if wind generation were to become a much larger fraction of installed capacity for a utility, the situation could become more complicated …).
Re: Jail Spin
Great piece on the Prison Moratorium Project. The question “How would you suggest increasing the exposure to nature for your constituents — by greening jails?” particularly struck me since I spent 12 years in an Arizona prison and actually found nature there. My book, Wilderness and Razor Wire, won the 2002 John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing — surprising me more than anyone.
Yes! Let’s green the jails and the prisons! It would be a step toward redeeming people in the most inhumane of places.
Thank you very much for your fine research, interviews, and news. I appreciate your honesty, as well as your sense of humor. Working in the environmental/health field, I often feel like I am swimming upstream. You help me not to get too discouraged, but rather to keep working toward positive change.
Thank you for keeping me up-to-date with current enviro news, helping me to make informed decisions, and also allowing me to connect with some really great folks. You are fantastic! If you weren’t an online magazine, I’d ask you to marry me!
Warmly and with gratitude,
Port Washington, N.Y.