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Being Green and Loving Ed Begley

By LC Van Savage

An added and unexpected bonus to the recycling craze is, yes, the dreaded “exercise.” Yes folks, if we recycle, we exercise whether we wish to or do not. I fall proudly into the category of the do nots.

Our home was built way before recycling became the new national craze, although it was not actually so new because the people who peopled the earth before us routinely recycled everything. But we like to brag and say we invented the discipline which we did not, but all of us want to take credit for inventing the wheel or anything else of world value, so we say it. Nope, sorry folks, our folks and theirs and theirs and theirs always recycled. It was a way of life which sort of stopped or slowed I think after WW II.

Anyway, our home does not have a row in our kitchen of those very attractive pull-out bins all labeled for various recyclables; plastic, metal, cardboard, newsprint, stationery, cat hair, live garbage, dead garbage, green glass, beer cans, hamster droppings etc. etc. And here’s where the whole exercise issue comes in. In the home of Mr. and Mrs. LC and Mongo Van Savage, we have to walk and walk and walk to the various assigned recycle spots where certain items get stashed into their proper locals until we get them to curbside and everyone knows now that walking is considered great exercise. Out to the garage with deposit bottles. Off to another location, my office, for the huge bucket which takes newspapers and all papers, cardboard, tin cans, plastics and glass. My so-called office by the way, in and of itself, is one huge chaotic Collier Brother’s recycle bin into which everything family members can’t deal with gets heaved to lie fallow for years. Literally. We open the door, stand there, pitch the stuff onto my desk and close the door. When we die, I’ve told the boys to take the file cabinet out of there and torch the rest. Then comes another short walk to the Mystery Recycle Bucket where everything else goes that we can’t categorize.

Oh, then there’s the penultimate and final walk, to the compost heap behind our back yard. Hauling foodstuffs, old plants, peelings etc. out there fills me with pride, makes me feel all Amishy and I ooze with “this is so good for our dear Mother Earth” feelings. These feelings abruptly vanish when I find I have to climb 5’ snowdrifts to recycle the uneaten yams, clabbered creamed onions, the coleslaw from hell and desiccated succotash Thanksgiving leftovers. The compost heap and all it represents lies abandoned until well past the muds of spring have hardened into lawns, when I pridefully start again. Mea Culpa Amishers and Mother Earth. But let’s be honest; 75% annual composting is better than none at all, right?

Yeah, recycling is a great thing for those of us who consider walking to our computers in the mornings and away from them in the evenings on a par with aerobic workouts. Hey, no pain, no pain.

And I’m also very impressed, speaking of recycling, with those folks who make their homes green. No, I don’t mean interior/exterior paint jobs, but the vernacular green. You know, the whole structure made of all recycled stuff. Walls built from discarded soda cans or chopped tires, livingrooms built from materials left behind after a wrecking ball has done its work, homes completely heated by solar energy and filled with people who curse long stretches of cloudy weather. Everything in their homes is made up of something discarded or rescued from a dump, or ground up stuff which is cooked and stirred, dried and then turned into beautiful hand-carved furnishings and cabinets and walls, carpets woven from the hides of road kill, curtains patched together beautifully from worn family garments with grannie's old silken undies for fancy trim and tie-backs, although Mom's thongs are usually recycled for slingshot use.

Did you ever see the short-lived but very funny TV show called “Living with Ed” on HGTV? It was a sort of daily biography of Rachelle Carson Begley’s torments of living with her now famous recycler husband and actor, Ed Begley Jr. Now Ed is a little over the top about this stuff. OK, he’s nuts—but he sure isn’t leaving any carbon footprints behind and he walks the walk. The man is so obsessed with saving the world that he won’t use one single ounce of anything unless it’s utterly and completely necessary. For example, electricity. He really skimps. He wants a piece of toast for breakfast? Here’s how he makes it. He puts the bread into a normal toaster which he’s wired to an exercise bike on an upstairs balcony. He then races up to that balcony and pedals furiously for so many minutes because from long practice he knows how much pedaling toasts the bread below. He then races downstairs, grabs his toast, butters it while he gulps down his coffee brewed from the sun (he lives in Calif.) which is stewed in a big jug out on a table built from scraps of lumber he found discarded in a ravine off to the side of a major highway. Amazing. He figures from his morning toast episode, he’s gotten his daily exercise and has saved all that electricity. Rachelle is a knock-out gorgeous woman/actress and it seems from that show they are quite happy even though she would prefer her toast made in the conventional way. She’s also most definitely not keen on many of her husband’s crazy obsessions, such as drinking and bathing in water that’s dripped from their recycled rooftop into a gigantic rain barrel recycled from a defunct winery. But Ed, wow, he’s really making people pay attention. He rides a bike all year ‘round (come on Ed, that’s a bit easier to do in Calif. and a bit harder to do through solid ice and snow drifts in Maine) but he’s become a huge authority on all this, and if you check out his website, you can find out a kadzillion ways to recycle even your own hair clippings if you wish to. He’ll even personally answer your questions. The man is a fiend on these issues and I admire him enormously, and he is making people pay attention, although I really wonder if he’s asked to a lot of parties. I mean, you know, people with a cause….

So it takes lots of thought, an initial layout of cash and a whole lot of exercise to fix the mess we’ve made. It really is not easy being green, but it’s doable. I know Mongo and I are proudly doing our part. Our lawn, for example, is now 100% solid moss, sand and weeds.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
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