Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day #36 The Power of the Written Word to Eliminate Toilet Paper

If you're a member of the Atlanta Writers Club http://www.atlantawritersclub.org/, you've already read something like today's blog, because I'm taking one of the columns I wrote for their monthly newsletter and adapting it a bit. Here it goes:

Over the past month, my life has taken quite a turn, and it’s all - well mostly - because of two particular books: No Impact Man by Colin Beavan and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver.

Colin decided he would try to live one year without making any environmental impact. Some of the life changes he made, such as no paper napkins or paper towels, are ones that I’d already adopted years ago, but I still have a long way to go.

Colin Beavan chose, for instance, to use no electricity. He, his wife, their daughter, and one dog lived in a ninth floor apartment in New York. No elevators (electricity!) meant an awful lot of stairs. No electricity meant no light bulbs. Locally-produced candles solved that problem.

And no car. So they walked, biked, or rode scooters made from all used equipment. Did I mention that they vowed to buy nothing new (other than food from local sources)? And, they came out with a way to live without toilet paper. Don’t ask me how they did it. Colin refused to give specifics in his books - he said it was too personal a topic.

So, I sat down and tried to figure out how they could have accomplished that. Why cut down trees to make a one-use product that will be flushed into the sewer, to be dealt with in a water treatment plant (which we pay for with our tax dollars)? I eventually developed a real good system. No, I’m not going to tell you how I did it. You’ll have to come up with your own solution.

Then, the Kingsolver book changed the way I think about food. She and her family vowed to live an entire year on food that they had either produced themselves or that came from within their county. I’ve been telling myself for years that I should go to farmer’s markets more often. For that matter, I know I should learn to cook, a skill that has eluded me since childhood. Listening to her (it was a CD version, read by the author), I saw the light. So, I’ve gone to farmer’s markets and have signed up with www.gwinnett.locallygrown.net so I can order SOLE food (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) and pick it up at Rancho Alegre in Dacula once a week. I made pickled beets a few weeks ago, and you would have thought I’d invented something divine. Don’t laugh. A year ago I would have scoffed at the idea of pickling anything.

I won’t belabor all the other changes I’ve made, but suffice it to say that the total effect has me feeling like a brand new person. All because of two books. All because of two writers. Pretty impressive, eh?

I can’t claim to write words as powerful as Beavan and Kingsolver, although I do spend a great deal of effort revising until my novels say precisely what I want to convey. And I always try to include good information about bipolar disorder, suicide prevention, ethical treatment of animals, and even blood donations, for heaven’s sake! Perhaps my work doesn’t have quite the same impact as Beavan or Kingsolver’s work, but I’m doing what I can.

And now that I'm getting into beekeeping, I have a feeling my next Biscuit McKee mystery will have little winged critters in it. Whatcha wanna bet?
p.s. When I first wrote this post (way ahead of time because I knew I'd be busy this particular day and wouldn't have the time to write it), I forgot to check the PUBLISH LATER box to schedule it for November 16th. Instead, I hit the PUBLISH NOW button, and sent it out to my devoted followers. So, you may have read this information once as an Atlanta Writers Club member, once as one of my followers, and once again today. If so, I applaud you. I promise not to goof again, unless I forget.

BEEattitude for Day # 36:
       Blessed are those who live elegantly and simply, for they shall bee like us. 

One thing I’m grateful for right now:
       The writers who have helped to shape the way I think. 

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