Green Regs and Scam

Recently I received a phone call from one of those unidentified “800” numbers. Usually I don’t bother to answer these irksome calls but, inexplicably, I picked up the receiver anyway. As it turned out this call offered me an opportunity-not one of a lifetime, not one for some must-have amazing new product-but an opportunity just the same: the opportunity to vent! As in vent my pent up frustration concerning a subject that has annoyed me for some time.

The caller was some telemarketing operator wanting me to renew my subscription to a well-known home and garden magazine. She began her spiel about the great deal the publishers were offering and why I should take advantage of it. Why, I’d be enjoying the same great decorating ideas, gardening tips, recipes, homemaking articles, etc., etc., as before. Not only that, but for each year’s subscription I paid in advance I’d receive an even bigger discount. Such a deal.

When at last she paused to catch her breath I, employing some bushwhacking skills of my own, immediately jumped in and fired back. I began with a verbal warning shot, informing her that I had enjoyed the magazine for many years and, in fact, I even had bought several of the company’s books on home decor. (My book collection includes a lot of decorating books. In fact, I once considered becoming an interior decorator.) Following this round I opened up with both barrels. The last few years, I said, had become rather tiresome with all the emphasis on environmentalism, including by the magazine under discussion. Nowadays, for instance, I can’t just paint a room; I’m supposed to use environmentally friendly, non-toxic “green” paint. I’m told to buy non-toxic “green” carpeting, furniture with “green” upholstery fabric, “green” window coverings. I should use “energy star” or “high efficiency” appliances and cleaning products, low-flow toilets, solar panels, wind power, and organic gardening products. (I always thought good ol’ manure worked pretty well. Can you get any more organic?) And set my thermostat at 68° when it’s 25° outside? No way, Frosty.

Worst of all, I’m supposed to illuminate my home with those hideous, ill-considered compact fluorescent light bulbs that resemble either a Dairy Queen soft serve or a segmented popsicle stick. They’ve even passed a law forcing me to use them. Those ugly little light things-you can’t really call them bulbs; no bulb, tulip or otherwise, ever looked like this-are not only expensive, they’re dangerous: They contain mercury. If you break one you’re advised to leave your house for 15 minutes while the poisonous vapors dissipate. You’re not supposed to flick them on and off quickly, as when you return to a room to pick up the keys you forgot; the little twits are supposed to be left on a reasonable amount of time to allow for the most economical performance. Furthermore, their light output is less than an incandescent bulb, and they require special disposal measures which probably involve driving (using those nasty fossil fuels!) to some official disposal facility at the other end of the county. One more thing: They’re hard to dust! I hate them! Talk about a rip-off. All in all, a bunch of dim bulbs forced on us by a bunch of even dimmer bulbs in Congress. #&%@

* politicians! (In protest, I’m buying up and stockpiling all the incandescent bulbs I can. Thomas Edison, here’s to you!)

But I digress. While I didn’t go into my light bulb rant with that hapless operator, I did tell her I was sick of being “greened” by everybody, including by her magazine, and that’s why I have not-and will not-renew my subscription. (Hey! Sierra Club: I’m saving trees.)

“Okay. Well, thank you. Good-bye,” she said rather meekly. I hope she took what I said and told the publishers to spindle that on their little green thumbs.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind separating my refuse, recycling paper and plastic, etc. I try not to waste anything, although I do throw out any long-forgotten, unidentifiable foodstuff I find in the fridge occasionally. I believe we should cultivate both animal and vegetable resources in a reasonable, economical manner since we have been granted dominion over them and all. This seems to have worked well enough for the past several millennia; I doubt man would have survived this long just gathering nuts and berries. And I have nothing against innovation, either; in my opinion pantyhose, Velcro, and, yes, disposable diapers are among the greatest advances of our time. But I draw the line at a system that demands I spend my time, money, and personal energy addressing often contrived problems with often equally contrived and silly solutions that make my life more hassled than enhanced.

As Kermit the frog says, “It’s not easy being green.” It’s not cheap, either. All the cost of that “green” being imposed upon us adds up: the regulations, the products, the brainwashing. And keep in mind, there’s a lot of green to be made by those pushing this stuff, including magazine publishers. Also, can it be just coincidence that “greed” and “green” are listed so closely in the dictionary? H-m-m-m-m.

I do like some things green, though: green eyes, lawns, shamrocks, Christmas greenery, the Green Berets. Still, you can have too much of a good thing. Too much candy can be bad for you, for instance, and so can too much “green”-thanks to the enviro-cuckoos (a species similar to the dodo, or maybe the gooney bird, which has become a real albatross around our necks).

Frankly, all this “greening” tends to make me feel rather green myself. As in around the gills. As in nauseous. I just hope barf bags aren’t green, too.

Sandra Scott is a former radio and television news reporter and late-blooming writer.