Tag Archives: pollution

Be a part of the Pollution Solution

I’ve been really concerned with pollution lately, air pollution, noise pollution, all different types of pollution. Last night I had this great idea for a campaign, I’d call it the “Pollution Solution.” It’s great, a great name, it rhymes, I thought it might be a terrific way to raise awareness about pollution, you could teach it to little kids and print out flyers and t-shirts that say something like, “I’m a part of the Pollution Solution,” you know, in reference to that old saying about being a part of the problem or being a part of the … yeah, you know.


So t-shirts and flyers, right? Right. OK, I didn’t know how to make t-shirts, not by myself anyway. I tried my hand at screen printing a few years ago, but the farthest that I got in the process was buying a bunch of stuff at some art store, eventually leaving the bags in the corner of my living room for months until finally my wife put them somewhere in the basement. I was like, “What the hell? I was going to use that stuff!”

And at the time I was so mad, because that was my excuse for not doing cool stuff like screen printing, “like I don’t have any space, like, you keep hiding my stuff and I forget that I want to do it.” But now that I’m thinking about it, that was part of the problem, of the pollution problem. I was polluting my house with all of this junk.

So let’s keep going, keep moving, we’ll get to the t-shirts, eventually, but I don’t want to get caught up right away in another pollution trap, so flyers, let’s make some flyers. I got onto Microsoft Word, I wrote in some big letters, “Be a part of the,” and then in even bigger letters, “Pollution Solution,” all caps. I got this recycling logo from the Internet and started printing two hundred copies.

But right as they started spooling out of the printer, I had doubts, like, OK, you definitely need flyers for a campaign, but where would I distribute these flyers? Who am I going to give them to? Shouldn’t I have included some contact info on the flyer? I clicked on the printer icon on my computer, and I hit cancel, but you know how those things always are, it’s like, cancel, and it says cancelling, but it keeps printing, and you go to click something else, but that shitty program that installed itself when you hooked up the printer, it’s totally unresponsive.

I was like, OK, I guess I’ll have to buy some more paper. I went back to Word, then I started typing the contact info, my phone number, right? Maybe a web site? Do I have a web site? I looked online, pollution solution dot com. Nothing. I registered quickly, it only cost like twelve bucks. Then my printer made some noise, it was a sound like it was finally accepting the delayed command to stop printing, but it was already at copy number ninety-eight, and instead of finishing copy number ninety-eight, it just stopped halfway down the page.

Come on! Why couldn’t it stop after it was complete? What am I supposed to do with half of a flyer? That’s pollution right there, because, what can I do but throw that piece of paper in the trash? I crumpled it up instinctively before I had the thought, wait, it didn’t have to be a total waste, I could finish the bottom half of the flyer by hand, and that would be cool because it’s all crumpled up anyway, so it would really have that cool recycled look. And the half-ink, half-pen thing, it would add to the effect, the really making treasure out of trash.

But I needed some pens, I mean, I had pens, but just Bic pens, that would have taken forever. I needed like a marker. So I went to the art store to buy a bunch, but on the way in, I saw this box, a screen printing starter kit. Huh. That’s so much more convenient than all of the random stuff I bought last time. It was just these jars of chemicals and the screens and I got home and I didn’t know where to start and then my wife hid everything in the basement, it was like, no wonder I never learned how to screen print.

So I bought the starter kit, went home, then went back to check on the flyers which, for some reason, the printing job resumed. I figured, whatever, it’s OK, I think that in my excitement about the starter’s kit, I forgot to actually buy those pens, and so, whatever, it’s fine, I’m making progress, I’ve got the flyers, I was just about to get started on the t-shirts, but I got an email from some guy at pollution solution dot net. It was this whole cease and desist, but you could tell he wasn’t a lawyer, it was just some dude threatening legal action, threatening to get a lawyer, and trying to scare me with a bunch of made up legalese.

I think. I’m not a lawyer either, and so it’s difficult to distinguish fake from real lawyering. Whatever, I could feel my motivation was diminishing. Do I really have what it takes for a political campaign? Again, what am I going to do, start passing out flyers on the street, like those cell phone guys? No, it’s so much pollution, it’s obvious, and those guys are so annoying, so aggressive, like fine, you want me to take this flyer from you? You want me to throw this piece of paper in the trash for you? Fine. I threw all of my work in the trash. I don’t care, twelve bucks on some cheesy domain name, you can take it mister dot net.

And then I had this idea for a t-shirt, it would be like a skull and crossbones, but instead of a skull, it would be a robot skull, and instead of crossbones, it would be like a wrench and a screwdriver. That would be the perfect t-shirt to use with my screen printing kit. But I still needed those pens, those markers, not pens, for the design. And some t-shirts. But I was really hungry and I needed some lunch. So I headed out the door and I think I wanted pizza, but I wasn’t sure, and was I even headed in the right direction? Maybe I’d just get a sandwich. And look at all of this litter on the floor, all of this trash, so much pollution. Everybody’s just a part of it, a part of the problem, man, it’s too much.

Earth Day was a huge bust

I keep thinking about Earth Day, about how I didn’t do enough, how I wasted it. I wrote about it. I picked up a ton of trash. Well, not a ton, but some. I picked up some trash. The world just needs so much more healing. I could have helped to heal it so much more. Just a little bit more healing would have been a little bit toward a long way of long term healing, renewal, growth.

Like, I had this idea about buying some water filters, you know, the ones that you put in a pitcher and you run your tap water through them and the water gets purified. I thought, OK, I could like buy one, or three of them, because I think they come in three packs. One pack of three filters. I could buy it and throw them in the East River. Do you know how disgusting the East River is? Very disgusting. It smells like, well, I don’t even know exactly how to describe it. But it’s not pleasant.

So I thought, you know, maybe this would be me doing me part, a very small part, hardly noticeable at all. But I’d be filtering some water, even if just a couple of drops. What if, in the future, like generations from now, there’s some dying child who might survive if only he or she had a couple of drops of clean water? Like, I know it’s probably unlikely, but there has to be a line between dying of thirst and not dying of thirst, and what if that line was just those drops that I’d be saving?

But then I thought, no, because what about the plastic filters? After they finished purifying all of the water that they could filter, the remnants of their spent shells would just add to the pollution. What good is a couple of drops of clean water if just downstream, that little piece of plastic gets picked up by a seagull? And the seagull might carry it out to the ocean. And once that seagull drops it in the ocean, I don’t know, there could be like an otter or a manatee, and it might try to eat the filter. And it would choke and die. Did I really feel like shouldering that potential responsibility?

I didn’t. I returned the filters. I didn’t have a receipt, because I’m very environmentally conscious, and so every time I buy something at a store, even before the clerk has a chance to say, “Hello,” I tell him or her, “Listen, I don’t need a receipt. It’s a huge waste of paper. There are just too many paper receipts out there, littering the sidewalks, filling up the landfills. Do you guys have any paperless options? Something green, something eco-friendly?” and usually I never return stuff, but this time it was kind of a pain in the ass. The clerk had to get a manager, the manager was reluctant to refund my money, I had to go into my whole no-receipt philosophy, and I was halfway through explaining how long those receipts take to biodegrade before the manager was just like, whatever, here’s your money, please leave.

And I’ve been feeling kind of off ever since, like, man, I wish there was more I could do for the river, for the earth. That’s when I had this thought, this brilliant idea. I could buy a bunch of fishing lines, and instead of a hook, I could attach the water filter. And so I’d cast out the lines and keep them in there for however long it would take for all of the filtering properties to be used up, and then I could reel them in and dispose of them properly.

So I’ve been kind of in a funk, wishing that I had thought of this idea on Earth Day, not weeks after Earth Day. If only I could have really taken advantage of the holiday, people might have been like, “What are you doing?” and I’d be like, “Oh, you know, it’s Earth Day, so I’m doing my part to help clean up the water.”

But then I went back to the drug store and I started looking at the water filters, but the box didn’t say what type of plastic was used for the casing. I took it to the register and asked the clerk, “Excuse me, do you know if this plastic is recyclable? Is it BHP free?” and the clerk wouldn’t even talk to me. She just stared at me, unwilling to even try to help me help the world, which she’s a part of. I’d be helping her out too.

Man, it’s tough being such a lone environmentalist. I can’t wait for the global shift in consciousness that I keep reading about online. Until then, I’ll just have to keep my head down, try to forget about what a bust this Earth Day was, do some research on sustainable water filters, just keep trying to make a difference, spreading the word, you know, any way I can help out, help the planet.

Happy Earth Day!

I’m not trying to brag or anything, but it’s common knowledge amongst my friends, my family, my coworkers, that I’m the most Earth-friendly guy around. I love the earth. I’m always walking around with my head down to the ground, one, to admire it, the earth, I just love looking at it, and two, I’m scanning my immediate surroundings for any litter. If I spot some litter, I immediately pick it up off the ground. If there’s a trashcan nearby, I’ll pitch it in there, I’ll brush my hands together in satisfaction, looking around at everybody, seeing if anybody’s looking at me, thinking to themselves, wow, that guy really cares, he really loves the earth, the planet. And maybe the litterer is still around. Maybe he or she saw me pick up the litter. And that person will be touched, like, jeez, one person really can make a difference. If there aren’t any trashcans around, I’ll put it into this biodegradable tote bag that I carry on me specifically for this reason, for finding trash but being too far away from a trashcan. The tote bag says, “I heart Earth,” you know, but it doesn’t say the word heart, it’s a picture of a heart.


And then when I do find a trashcan I’ll dump out the contents of my tote bag which, depending on how far away I’ve been from a trashcan, it might be pretty full. One time it was very full, and when I finally found a trashcan, when I finally started dumping everything out, some police officer came over and was like, “Hey buddy! You can’t dump your trash into that trashcan!” and I was like, “What are you talking about? Isn’t this what the trashcans are here for?” and he was like, “Yeah, for individual pieces of trash. You can’t dump all of your trash in there.” And so I told him, about the tote bag, I showed him the tote bag, I explained that I go around scanning the earth for litter, than I collect it and dispose of it properly.

The police officer looked at me and even though his facial expression remained quite stern, I could tell that I’d gotten through to him somehow. He took out his ticket book and started writing out a violation. And then I thought, oh man, maybe I haven’t gotten through to him. But then he showed the ticket. And this is what he wrote: “Name: Litter – Violation: Pollution – Recommended Sentence: Awareness. Compassion. Renewal.”

I looked him in the eye. I said, “Something has changed inside of you, hasn’t it?” and he said, “Yes. Yes it has,” and he opened up his hand and the wind took the ticket and carried it into the air. So I was like, “Wait a second, what are you doing?” and he said, “I just wrote up pollution, for littering,” but I was like, “But … but you just littered. That ticket. That’s going to fall somewhere. That’s litter.”

And then I looked at him again, and it was the same as before, an almost identical facial expression, but still I could tell that even more had changed inside of him. This time it was more than just awareness, more than simply an expansion of his universal consciousness. This time there was a tinge of remorse. He flipped the page in his ticket book and wrote another citation, but this one was for himself, for littering. The fine was pretty steep, five hundred bucks. And this time he ripped the ticket out of the ticket book, he handed it to me and told me to hand it back to him. I did. I nodded at him, like saying without saying, “You’ve taken a big step here officer,” and I think that he was saying without saying, “Thank you.”

Look, I’m just one man, one man who loves the Earth. I really, really love it. My favorite Planeteer was always the earth Planeteer. Whenever I have to pick out a color, for anything, I try to choose an earth tone. When I’m at a restaurant and the waiter asks me if I’d like a glass of wine, I always ask which one has the earthiest flavors. If I have a daughter someday, I plan on naming her Bertha, so that way I’ll get to say Earth every time I say her name. Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I’ve tweaked this statement somewhat. I always say, “Be the change that you wish to see in the earth.” Because I love the earth even more than Gandhi did. And whenever people say, “Wow Rob, who came up with that quote?” I reply, “Me. I did.”

We’re all doomed

I get so paranoid sometimes, like way too paranoid. It’s overwhelming, crushing, really. It’s all stupid crazy stuff, and it sounds just like how these blog posts sound, only out loud, in my head, with no word limit, just this constant stream churning a million different detailed scenarios about how I’m going to die, how, yeah, things are going pretty well right now, but it’s just a matter of time before everything takes a sharp and dramatic turn for the worse.

Like this morning, I was feeling especially on edge, I couldn’t find a comfortable spot, not sitting down, not lying down, not standing up. So I thought I’d go for a long run, get into that soothing rhythm where I focus on my breathing. Only this backfired. As I got maybe a quarter of the way over the Queensboro Bridge, I noticed how windy it was.

Specifically, I could feel the wind coming at me from the other side of the bridge, taking all of that gridlocked traffic, accumulating all of that slow, idling exhaust, and shooting it straight into my lungs in concentrated bursts. I tried to ignore it, to just deal with it, to tell myself that, hey idiot, you live in a big city, this problem probably isn’t limited to being on a bridge.

But then I started thinking about all of the bridges and tunnels in the city. I started thinking about all of those bridge and tunnel workers, the cops that stand there and do whatever it is they’re doing, the maintenance guys, the toll collectors. They always have these crazy World War I style gas masks on. And here I am like an idiot running across the bridge, getting my respiratory system into such a state that I’m actually taking in more air than necessary, I’m taking in as many large gulps of pollution as I can.

OK this isn’t helping. I needed to put that out of my head also. What am I going to do, never go outside? Never run across the bridge? It’s not always this bad. Sometimes the wind comes from the other direction and I get to enjoy what it feels like if there were no cars around. But that taste. I could taste exhaust on my tongue. And I wanted to wipe the taste off somehow, but there was nothing to do, I kind of just moved my tongue around, rubbed it on my teeth. And now I was totally going crazy, because I swear I could feel like a film on my teeth, like the inside of my mouth was just covered with this grime.

I was getting out of control here. Clearly this had to be at least somewhat in my head. New York isn’t that dirty. It’s not like how people describe Los Angeles during the eighties, or Beijing right now. All of those other human beings are making it through OK. I’ll manage just fine. And that calmed me down for a second, but then another image flashed through my mind. I remembered I went for a similar long run like a year ago, the same route, the across the bridge, but it was a little longer, I ran along the East River and down the to the Brooklyn Bridge before turning around and heading back to Queens.

And when I got home and collapsed and took off my sneakers I could see it, a clear line in my socks, white below the ankle line, but above? Where the sock didn’t have any sneaker to cover it? It was stained, browned, just being exposed to this city for a couple of hours had somehow done actual damage, like there’s enough dust and grime at the foot level to somehow make its way into the fabric.

And I run a lot, over and over again, back and forth across that bridge, I’m breathing in and out. All I can think of is tiny micro-particulate, the smokestacks to my right in Long Island City, the smokestacks to my left by the FDR Drive, all of that exhaust, the kind of dust that’s so small it takes decades to float down to the earth’s surface, and I’m breathing it in, giving it that powerful inhale, letting it get all the way inside my system, deep in my lungs, into the tiniest crevasses of my alveoli, accumulating run after run after run.


And someday ten, twenty, thirty years from now, I’ll develop this weird post-post-post industrial cough, and the oncologist will be like, “Yeah, we’re seeing that from a lot of guys your age. Nobody really knows any good answers, but here, we’ll give you a bunch of chemotherapy and hope for the best.”

This is crazy. This is a crazy way to spend a Wednesday morning. It’s too much for me. I need a drink. I need some more coffee. And another drink. We’re all doomed.