A Great Way to Celebrate Earth Day

What can we do? Quite a bit, actually.

Greetings, fellow earthlings! It’s time for our annual reminder that the Earth is our home and we need to take care of it. The fact that we had to designate this one day out of a whole year to do so says quite a bit about our lack of caring for this big blue marble of ours. If we don’t start prioritizing Earth on a daily basis, the day when it stops sustaining us altogether will rapidly approach. And before that, things will get rather horrific, because global climate change may be caused by us, but it impacts every single thing, and as we all compete for the ever-dwindling resources, such as drinking water, things are going to get ugly. The birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees never asked for any of this. Humans suck.

Are you sick of being lectured about this when you feel utterly helpless to turn things around? I’m right there with you. I’ve long since given up on the idea that the politicians that we have elected actually have any intentions of acting upon our collective desires. And it seems that the moment you become part of the one percent you check your integrity, your decency, your humanity, and your conscience at the door. I can’t imagine myself or any of my friends willfully and aggressively doing things to destroy the planet, all in the name of personal short-term gain, but those obscenely rich f*****s seem to live for it.

This rant will do absolutely no good whatsoever, unless it educates a person or two. I’m not holding my breath. It’s better to enjoy air while we still have it. (There may come a day when we wax nostalgic about breathing relatively clean air. What a concept.)

I know that many of us get irritated when people don’t recycle, but according to this article, 91% of all the plastics on earth do not get recycled, even if we do place them in recycle bins and berate those who don’t. That’s disheartening.

But it’s time to set aside our personal guilt and start focusing on forcing corporations to straighten up, because, according to this article, 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all global emissions. The bulk of them are in the fossil fuel industry. No big surprise there. If we could get them under control, much of our environmental problems would be solved. The 7.9 billion people on earth should be able to crush 100 companies. It’s just that we’re too busy infighting to get focused. We should be able to fix that, with a little education, no?

If we could just pick one problem at a time, and bend our collective will toward it, we could move mountains. It’s just hard to figure out where to begin. The more we discover about our planetary abuses, the more discouraged we become.

Here’s one problem I’d love to focus on. I just read an article that taught me quite a bit that I never could have otherwise imagined. Chile’s Atacama Desert: Where Fast Fashion Goes to Die is a story that’s so tightly packed with scary information that I’ll give you just some of the most salient points here:

Each year, 59,000 tons of clothes that can’t be sold in the US, Europe, and Asia wind up in Chile, supposedly for resale throughout Latin America. 39,000 of those tons actually wind up abandoned in huge piles in the Atacama Desert. These clothing dunes could take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Most landfills won’t accept them, because they contain chemical products.

I hopped over to google maps to see if these mounds could be seen from outer space. Not quite. But I did zoom in on this one dump, which is more than a mile long, and it looks like a scar on the desert. Its remote location means that most of us don’t have to think about it.

For some more horrific imagery of these clothing dunes, check out this YouTube video.

To create this fast fashion that goes out of style almost instantly, a huge amount of water is wasted. It takes 7,500 liters of water to make one pair of jeans. That’s the amount one person drinks in 7 years. The fashion industry is believed to be the second most polluting industry in the world, second only to the fossil fuel industry. A half million tons of microfibers from fast fashion wind up in our oceans each year, via our washing machines. The fashion industry accounts for 10% of the carbon emissions on our planet, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. This industry is also notorious for dumping chemicals into waterways.

What can we do?

Quite a bit, actually. We have been conditioned into this habit of consumerism by the  fashion industry. There is absolutely no reason why clothing styles need to change every season, other than the fact that this industry wants your money. They have taught us that we need to be on trend. It’s the only way to be accepted. Because of this, annual clothing production has doubled between 2004 and 2019. I am willing to bet it has taken off even more during this pandemic. I know I’ve bought a lot of crap clothing online that I wouldn’t have normally, simply out of sheer boredom.

Back in 2012, when I was in my late 40’s, I went back to college. Many of the students in class were in their late teens. One girl would come in wearing a different outfit every single day. When I asked her how many shirts she had, she said around 400. This nauseated me. What a waste. So much stuff that in 10 years she won’t fit into or even want. All of that used to be water and money. She and the planet could be so much further ahead in life than they are. It broke my heart.

It’s official. I’m going to get back into the habit of buying used clothing at thrift stores rather than going retail. I’m not going to buy trendy clothes (not that I’ve ever been a fashion plate). And I’ll only buy things when I have worn out the things I already own. I’ll buy basic things that remain in style, take care of them, mend them as needed, and wear them for decades. I will avoid synthetic material so I don’t have to contribute to the microfiber problem. It’s the very least I can do.

And if you can, support the work of EcoFibra Chile. This company makes insulation panels out of the clothing dunes. These panels create jobs, clean up landfills, and can reduce the need for electricity for heat and cooling by as much as 35 percent.

Now, if we could only figure out a way to make building blocks out of these clothes, it would help with the worldwide sand shortage which makes it harder and harder to find concrete (which is a story for another day). It would also help with the affordable housing crisis. And I bet the blocks would be colorful. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I’m glad there are people out there who are willing to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. It can be done. Let’s see more of this.

Happy Earth Day.

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5


Capitalism 101

It’s time to stop sniffing the glue, folks.

Apologies in advance. I’m feeling a tad bitter today. I have absolutely no idea why I didn’t think of this before, but the capitalist system, our system, can be easily explained as follows:

The main goal of this system is profit. The only way that corporations can make a profit is by making sure that the amount their employees are paid is less than the amount of wealth those same employees produce. That’s it, pure and simple. The profit comes from our sweat.

And it’s even better for them when those same employees spend those meager earnings on stuff, thus returning it to those same corporations. Do we really need the latest iPhones and 50 pairs of shoes? Why does fashion go out of style? Why does software become obsolete? Why is everything so disposable?

Now do you get why unions exist? Almost everything you see around you was created by some underpaid, underinsured, struggling shmuck who is just a cog in a corporate wheel. And why the hell did we elect a corporate mogul to lead this country, who is doing his level best to strip it of what few riches it has left?

It’s time to stop sniffing the glue, folks.

filthy lucre

If you insist on spending your money, I’m proud to say that my book is available in paperback, kindle, and deluxe color edition! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Boycott Automation

I absolutely refuse to go through the self-checkout line at the grocery store. I don’t care how much they urge me. I won’t do it. The way I see it, that’s someone’s job I’d be taking away. The fewer of us who play that game, the fewer grocery stores will think it’s worth trying, and the more people they will have to hire.

I also try to avoid ATM machines whenever possible. I even prefer not to check out my books myself at the library if I have a human option.

Automation is all around us. The trick is not to get used to it. Recently I traveled in Oregon, and was kind of surprised to see that you couldn’t pump your own gas there. I had forgotten that there was once a time when self-service wasn’t an option. How easy it is to forget. Waiting for an attendant was kind of awkward and slow, but it felt good, knowing someone was taking home a paycheck.

I also try to shop at smaller stores and farmers’ markets, and I do my best to eat local and support my neighbors. Am I swimming against the tide? Probably. But these tiny acts of rebellion against corporate America feel good to me. They feel right. And I’ll keep doing them as long as I possibly can.

Power to the people!


Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5


Human Resources

I am unbelievably, incredibly, outrageously gullible. Even though it does not serve me well, I tend to think the best of people and of organizations until I’m proven wrong. And I’m proven wrong with distressing frequency. You’d think I’d learn, but this lesson gets thrown in my path over and over again, and all I seem to do is trip over it and fall flat on my fool face.

Case in point: It has finally dawned on me that there’s a reason that Personnel departments have changed their names to Human Resources. These departments are not there for the benefit of the person, the employee. They never have been. Their sole purpose is to protect their organizations from litigation. And if they have to throw you under the bus to do so, they will, without hesitation. I have the tire tracks on my back to prove it.

We humans are their resource. Resources, by definition, are there to be used up and exploited to benefit an organization. I now place HR staff on the same shelf with used car salesmen, politicians, and lawyers. A necessary evil, perhaps, but better to avoid them whenever possible.

If you are being sexually harassed, abused, or otherwise threatened at work, you won’t get satisfaction from HR. You’re much better off approaching your union, if you have one, or unionizing if you don’t.

There’s a reason Corporate America is trying to demonize unions. It’s the only power most of us have left in the working world. And even their powers are limited.

The working world is like the wild wild west, and the bad guys have taken over the town. If you’re ever in doubt who wears the black hats, try dealing with your company’s HR department. Then pay your union dues and hole up in the school house with the rest of us who are under siege, pardner.


Like this blog? Then you’ll LOVE this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

An Open Letter to White Supremacists

First, let me give you my “bonafides”. According to Ancestry DNA, I’m about as white as a human being can be. That always has, and probably always will give me a leg up in society. I won’t even try to deny it. I also won’t deny that I’ve done little or nothing to earn this leg up. I was born into it, and oh, do I ever take advantage of it.

I can go weeks, months, even years not having to think about pesky racial issues if I so choose. I can live in a white bubble and have absolutely no contact with any minority for days on end. I don’t have to watch “them” on TV, or listen to “them” on the radio if I don’t want to. I can simply close my eyes and clutch my pearls. If I so desire, I can shop exclusively at white-owned stores without putting forth much effort at all. I probably do without even realizing it. I have the luxury of not having to care one way or the other.

People assume I’m law-abiding and honest. People assume I’m non-violent. People assume that I’m supposed to be wherever I happen to be, any time of the day or night. I’m a harmless fat old white woman. I’m as likely to get shot as I am to be struck by lightning. Most people don’t even look at me. I can become invisible. I often feel invisible. It’s lonely, but it has its advantages.

No, I’m not rich. I’m barely middle class, and I’ve only clawed my way up to this precarious and ever-shrinking perch in the past 3 years. I know what it’s like to be down there in that bucket of crabs, where everyone is scrabbling to get out, and just when you think you’ve made it, the other crabs pull you back down. I was there for 50 years. It’s frustrating. It’s heartbreaking. I understand that despair.

But here’s where you and I part company: I don’t assume that all the crabs that have been pulling me down are non-white. I don’t even bother to blame the other crabs regardless of their color. If you’re caught in a crowded, desperate bucket, it’s only natural to want to get your crabby butt out of there. It’s not the other crabs, guys. It’s the freakin’ bucket. There shouldn’t be a bucket.

That bucket was made by rich white people.  It’s the corporations and the politicians and the institutions that are your biggest threat. It’s the military-industrial complex that is using you as cannon fodder and replaceable cogs in the machine.

Railing at your crab-mates is a mere distraction. Glorifying Confederates, who lost for good reason, and Nazis, who lost for good reason, makes you look like fools. Being violent because you’re angry does not further your cause. It will never bring you respect or support or dignity. It won’t get you out of the bucket. Fascism has never benefited the masses, and like it or not, we are part of the masses.

I know it sucks that we’ll never have a delightful and stress-free retirement. I know it’s scary that things are getting more crowded and therefore more competitive. It’s high time you realize that automation is a much bigger threat to your job than other humans are. And most of those machines, by the way, are owned by white people.

If you honestly think for one minute that your crab-mates are out to destroy you or your way of life, ask yourself this: why are all of us striving for the same things? We all want a decent, safe, secure life. A way to feed our children. A roof over our heads. Peace. We have a lot more in common than you seem to think.

Don’t you get it? We are all in this together. And together we are stronger. The very fact that we are a mass is the one thing we have that those bucket manufacturers do not.

The reason you have the day off today is thanks to the labor movement, a movement of the masses. We can do great things if we stand shoulder to shoulder rather than turning our back on each other, or even worse, locking ourselves into mortal combat with each other while the bucket manufacturers gleefully watch from a distance.

Turning on each other is the last thing, the absolute last thing, we should be doing. Don’t be a pawn.


Like this blog? Then you’ll LOVE this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Congressional Boot Camp

In theory, members of congress represent the will of their constituents, but in practice that hasn’t been the case for quite some time, with few exceptions. They know it. We know it. Their decisions are based entirely upon their personal ideologies, and that of their financial backers. To hell with the people. We, the people, mean absolutely nothing to them.

It always astounds me that politicians are elected and paid to pass legislation on issues that they know absolutely nothing about. How is it possible for someone to sit in judgment on topics that are completely outside of their realm of experience?

Here’s a thought. If we dismantle the fundraising mechanism for congress, if we cap the amount of money one can spend to run for office, level the playing field, as it were, prohibit contributions by corporations, and make all funds go through a general pool so that no politician can determine the source of the proceeds and therefore is beholden to no one, then the public will be running the country once again.

This would also free up a lot of time. Congressmen spend the bulk of their time in fundraising activities. If this were no longer an issue, there would be greater opportunities to do the things that they should have been doing all along: familiarizing themselves with the issues they are weighing in on.

For example, how can people vote about whether or not to go to war when the vast majority of them have never set foot in a war zone? Before they can vote on such an important issue, they should either have to live in a war zone for two months, or send their children to fight on the front line.

Don’t think waterboarding is torture? Before you can say that, you should have to experience it yourself, and also subject someone else to it.

Against abortion? I’ll take you seriously once you’ve adopted a crack baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Making policies that impact the homeless? Sleep on the street for a month. Preferably in winter.

Weighing in on immigration? Let’s take everything away from you, surround you with people who want you dead, and kick you out of your homeland. Then we’ll talk.

All this could be avoided if everyone in congress possessed one quality: empathy. The ability to imagine what life is like for others, particularly the less fortunate. The concept that just because something isn’t a problem for you, that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Until you have some moral authority, as far as I’m concerned, you have no authority at all.

End of rant.


Like this blog? Then you’ll LOVE this book! http://amzn.to/2cCHgUu

My Hobbies are None of Your Business, Boss

Just when you thought the Supreme Court couldn’t sink any lower in its conservative white male support of corporations over the human beings they are supposed to represent, along comes this foolishness with Hobby Lobby. Their landmark ruling on that lawsuit means that your employer now has the right to impose his beliefs on your body. HOW DARE THEY???

The owners of Hobby Lobby have very strong religious convictions. Good for them. They have decided that contraceptives are a sin. Fine. Then they shouldn’t take contraceptives.

But they’ve taken the concept one step further. They’ve decided that they have the right to impose their beliefs on the at least 15,000 women that they employ nationwide. Thanks to the Supreme Court, they are now allowed to provide these women with health insurance that will not cover birth control.

This won’t stop these women from using birth control. I guarantee you that. But it will impose a financial hardship, and I have no doubt that Hobby Lobby pays its employees pathetically, as that seems to be the retailer trend these days. In many cases it will cause these women to seek out more affordable but less effective alternatives, and this will impact their health and the very structure of their families.

Here’s what no one seems to be saying. If my boss tried to have a conversation with me about my health choices, if he tried to give me advice on what I should do when I’m off the clock, if he even dared to suggest that my private life were any of his business whatsoever, I’d sit him down, look him straight in the eye, calmly inform him that I’m a grown-ass woman and he is not my father, and then I’d tell him to shut his pie hole.

And that should be the end of the conversation. There should never have been a single court in the land that would view this as a legitimate lawsuit. It is a sad day in this country when there is legal sanction to treat employees as if they are children. You pay me, and part of that pay is in the form of health insurance, in exchange for my hard work. A fair trade. It has been that way since the emancipation proclamation. What I do after receiving that compensation, even if it involves sacrificing goats under the light of the full moon, has nothing whatsoever to do with you.

One thing is for certain: I won’t ever spend another penny in a Hobby Lobby. And since the vast majority of their customers are women, I hope all women with sense will do the same thing. If I were a competing retailer, I’d take advantage of this opportunity to make it perfectly clear that I, unlike Hobby Lobby, respect a woman’s right to make her own decisions. Now THAT store would have my undying loyalty.

And believe you me, if there were a way to also boycott the Supreme Court, I’d be doing that, too. They are completely out of control. Sheesh.

body rights

[Image credit: Hikaru Cho]

Why I Will Always Shop at CVS Pharmacy

I’m not someone who sets great store in brand or company loyalty. I don’t even buy American necessarily. Nor do I subscribe to the concept that large conglomerations care about the consumer. The only thing they care about is that our money continues to flow in their direction.

But something happened recently that will make me loyal to CVS Pharmacy for the rest of my life. They decided that they will stop selling tobacco products as of October 1 of this year. This is the second largest pharmacy chain in the United States, and they anticipate losing 2 billion dollars a year in revenue by making this move, but they’re doing it anyway. They felt it wasn’t in keeping with their image of being purveyors of health and wellness.

I can’t remember the last time I heard of a corporation doing the right thing. And this right thing took a lot of chutzpah. Granted, 2 billion dollars constitutes less than 2 percent of their annual sales, but to risk alienating all of their smoking customers? That’s unprecedented, and I couldn’t be more impressed.

Whether you are a smoker or like me you are someone who has had to stand by helplessly while someone you love participates in that slow but inevitable death, I’m sure you have a story about how tobacco has negatively impacted your life. I suspect CVS is banking on the fact that a lot of consumers will be like me and support them with our loyalty, but that’s quite a leap of faith when most businesses would much rather err on the side of caution.

My mother had emphysema and died of cancer. One of my earliest memories of her was of her morning smoker’s hack. That made me never smoke. I’ve seen many people die over the years due to their tobacco use, and it frustrates me no end. I’ve watched the cigarette companies target the most vulnerable among us: young people, minorities, and people in third world countries. I’ve seen people with asthma suffer just from the proximity of smoke. I’ve seen arguments ensue over where smoking is acceptable, and I’ve seen disgusting cigarette butts in every imaginable place.

I realize that smokers will simply go elsewhere to buy their cigarettes now, but if even one person is delayed from smoking for just an hour, it’s worth it. If one sneaky smoking kid is inconvenienced because the CVS is the only thing within walking distance, hip hip hooray!

Whether CVS’ motivations are pure matters to me not at all. What I love most about this is that an influential nationwide company is sending a message that cigarettes are bad for your health and they aren’t going to participate in providing them to the public anymore. That’s a message that everyone should be sending.

My only question for CVS is, why wait until October 1? Yank them off the shelves now!!!


[Image credit: onenewspage.us]