the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Earth Day Meme


Assignment:  Ask Five of Your Favorite Bloggers to Do a “Green” Meme

Imagine there existed a system to measure a person’s “commitment to a green lifestyle.”  At one end of the spectrum, is the person who measures 0.   This person doesn’t care about the environment.  Sometimes, we give another name to this type of person — a Republican.  (ha ha, just a little political humor there)  This “zero” environmentalist doesn’t worry about the planet and has no problem throwing his trash in the street.

At the other end of the spectrum is Ed Begley Jr.  He measures a 100.  He is such a nut that he rides a stationery bicycle to power the solar panels that supplies electricity to his house, or something like that.

Six months ago, I started writing posts for the Brita Filter for Good blog.  At that time, I measured a, uh, let’s say –  40 on this imaginary environmental scale.    I already cared about the environment, at least in theory.  Caring about the planet is nothing new to me.  Any New York City public school child in the 1970s and 1980s was bombarded with information about pollution and “no nukes.”  In fifth grade, I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Japan, insisting that he stopped killing the whales, and that I personally held him responsible.  I have been to Earth Day concerts in Central Park and Heal the Bay walks in Santa Monica, marching twenty feet behind Ted Danson.  Most of these gestures have been symbolic, even fun, because these events were also good places to meet liberal, sexually-confident girls who didn’t wear bras.

I have now written about my “green journey” for six months.   But have I really changed?  I think I have, maybe not as much as I hoped.  I’d say that as of Earth Day, 2009, I now measure a 69 on the imaginary environmental scale.  That is an increase of 29 points!  (and by coincidence, 69 happens to be one of my favorite numbers).  I am better educated, more aware, and have started to take concrete steps to do my little part for the planet.

In honor of Earth Day, I am participating in a meme with the other bloggers from the Filter for Good blog.

What are five ways that I can make a difference during this Earth Month?

Of course, as usual, I am late to the game, and have only published this meme on April 22, which is good for Earth Day, but a little late for Earth Month.  So, I am going to revise the question a bit and ask this question instead —

What are five green things that I can start NOW on Earth Day that I will keep on doing for at least another month?

Later on, I will be inviting you to participate and do this meme yourself!

My Five-For-Good Answers:

1)  I Will Continue to Educate Myself.

This might seem like a easy first choice since it doesn’t require me to do anything particularly green.  For me, it is the most important step.  Every action that I have taken during the last six months was because of my education.  By reading books and websites written by authors who actually KNOW something, I have gained an understanding of WHY I should be so worried about our planet.  Rather than acting out of peer pressure or ignorance, educations helps me make my own decisions.  I have even made some non-green choices.  I do not bring a burlap bag to the supermarket.  I take the supermarket bags and use them, rather than buying Hefty garbage bags.  I feel OK with this, because I took the time to think the situation out.

When I was a teenager, I was “for the environment” because it was cool, and rock stars gave concerts. Now I am motivated by the scary facts, particularly about global warming.

2)  I Will Not Waste Electricity

Remember this post titled “The Can Opener,”  in which I was amazed to learn that I was one of the few Americans who still used an electric can opener?  I am an electricity waster.

In a recent post on Filter For Good, I revealed a dirty little secret —

I always viewed electricity as clean energy, in contrast to the dirt that came from the exhaust pipes of our cars. While I intellectually understood that electrical energy had to come from somewhere, it was removed from my view, much like I order a hamburger without having to think about the animal that was killed.  In the past, when I shut off the lights when I left the room, it was to save money, not because of the environmental impact.

It is easy to get lazy with the use of electricity.  It is always “there” for our use.  Recently, I came back from a two week trip from Florida.  When I walked inside, I noticed that the living room light was on!  At first, I was nervous.  Did someone break in?  Then I remembered how I rushed out of the house to catch my flight and I forgot to shut the light.  What a waste of money and energy.  I should be booted from this green blog because of that mistake!

With the next month, I will be shopping for a more energy efficient air-conditioner in the living room.

3)  I Will Buy Green Household Cleaners

I’ll admit it.  I used to make fun of those of you who would buy green cleaners.   C’mon, give me a break.  Companies will sell you anything, you suckers.   Too much of a wimp to use regular ol’ Ajax?  Then I read more on the subject

The creators of most green cleaning products claim that they avoid some of the chemicals that are suspected to be harmful to humans and the environment, especially when these chemicals are washed down the drain. Although studies are conflicted on this issue, most environmental groups believe that the chemicals in tradition cleaning products can impair neurological functions, or act as respiratory irritants and carcinogens. Labeling on these products is confusing, and most consumers don’t know what these products contain. Many contain phosphates, which can deplete our water supply of oxygen. With 80,000 chemicals in use today, scientists are not sure which one is potentially dangerous. This seems like a good reason to spend an extra dollar for the “green” cleaning product.

4)  I Will Bring My Own Coffee Mug

People have been doing this for years.  I have never done it ONCE.   I have no excuse other than laziness.  Every day, I go to the McDonald’s across the street and order a cup of coffee.  Why add the paper coffee cup to the landfills?  Why not just bring my own mug?

But will McDonald’s fill it?   Has anyone ever brought their own coffee mug to McDonald’s?   I’ve seen customers bring their own mugs to Starbucks, but ultra-corporate McDonald’s?

5)  Buy Organic

This is a subject I want to better understand.  What is real and what is marketing?  I can appreciate how local fruits and vegetables taste better.  Less chemicals are used.  Energy is not wasted in transportation across the country.  I still feel that there is a bit of marketing involved, and that some organic products are just gimmicks, created just to sell products at a higher price.  However, for the next month, I pledge to buy more fruits and vegetables from the farmers’ market in order to buy locally.  This is a big step for me, because I hate spending extra money when tomatoes are on sale at the supermarket.  But, hey, Earth, you are worth it!

Would you like to make any “green” one-month commitments on this Earth Day?

The rules are simple. (Editor’s note:  Actually THEY say it is “simple.”  I find it a big confusing, but I’m going to shut up about that and just copy it — )

Post five things you plan to do for the environment over the next month on your blog. At the end of your list, tag five of your favorite blogs, and include a link back to this post using the hyperlinked text “FilterForGood Blog Meme Contest.” Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs, or on their Twitter accounts (using the hash tag #FFGBlogMeme). Also, be sure to include these rules at the bottom of your post.

An Extra Bonus

At the end of Earth Month, FilterForGood will choose a few lucky bloggers who posted their five things to win some Brita/FFG gift packs to help you go green! Be sure you link back to the original meme post [] to enter the contest!

How about you — Letter Girl, Finn, Twenty Four at Heart, Miss Grace, and Stacey?


  1. Lauren

    Is it okay that I find the fact you get your coffee from McDonald’s terribly endearing?

  2. Gwen

    I alternate between feeling like what I do is good enough and being horrified at my own sloth about greening up my life. We’re way greener than our neighbors, but Ed would still probably try to run us down with his stationery bike.

    Please report on the reaction at McDonald’s to your cup.

  3. churchpunkmom

    look at you.. all green and stuff. (you might want to have that looked at..)

    I miss buying organic. *sigh*

  4. churlita

    You might be kind of correct on the organic food products. My brother works in finance for the natural foods division of a major food corporation and says that a lot of foods marked natural or organic, may not be what consumers think. Apparently, major food corporations are trying to make those definitions less stringent. We’ll see what happens…

  5. Finn

    Love the coffee idea. Would never have occurred to me that you could do that.

    Did you remember to link back to the original post so you have an entry? Do I sound like your mom?

    Thank you for tagging me; I need a post for tomorrow!

  6. Vince

    Hey Neil, this is a great post. Not wasting electricity is a simple one that a lot of people can do. I would also recommend taking shorter showers, people waste way too much for no good reason. Earth Day should be everyday, it is good that there is at least one day to spread awareness. Here are some suggestions on what you can do to help the Earth:, you can add your own suggestions.

  7. TheLiteraryFashionista

    It’s earth day, and for a few hours our cable/tv/internet was down because some goon with a jackhammer broke the connection out on the street. So for a few hours, the earth was greener without us using these services.
    However, being that I didn’t know it I don’t suppose it counts as a conscious effort on my part. Instead, I was blithely visiting the “bra wizard,” and getting the girls bigger cups.

  8. Chris

    I’m glad you’ve achieved a self-evaluated rating of 69 – up from a 40. Impressive.

    Organic seems like the right thing to do. Do you really think it’s a marketing gimmick? No fertilizers, no pesticides – it has to be better for us, and having tried to grow veggies in my own backyard without the aid of Miracle Grow and bug repellent – it’s more difficult and can produce less.

    Congratulations on completing the meme, on making changes, and committing to continue loving our Mother Earth. You’re a 69. Treat yourself to something special!

  9. Miss Grace

    Posted 🙂

  10. liv

    i guess i’m just sort of sad that i didn’t get tagged.


    today, i used my own coffee mug, turned off the water while i brushed teeth, did minimal driving and thought about the earth. i hope that counts.

  11. maggie, dammit

    I love the earth. And I LOVE Neil Kramer.

    Nicely done.

  12. Jack

    Today I drove my Hummer to the beach and left it idling so that I could keep the AC going. When it got dark we used plastic coke bottles to start a bonfire. It was great and kind of romantic too.

  13. Annie

    That is a good start, Neil. And so you know there is a difference between foods that say Natural(marketing) and foods that are organic, farmers have to jump through a lot of hoops to be able to label their stuff organic, so when it says it is, it is. I have been buying only organic for 10 years now. You can do it :-).

  14. mv

    jack’s comment made me laugh hysterically…that was real life for most of the people i grew up with, except they used tires instead of coke bottles, seriously…

  15. slouching mom

    a meme? damn. what is this world coming to?

  16. miriam

    I’m with Jack on this one.

  17. Neil

    Miriam — c’mon, you love the earth!

  18. better safe than sorry

    i’m like a sponge when it comes to green stuff, i can never absorb enough. i thought i knew alot, but there is so much more to learn. stay true to your cause.

  19. Venus

    Bringing your own coffee mug to McDonald’s? That literally made me laugh out so loud I think I scared somebody next doors. You should do an update sometime and inform your readership of how things went on your first attempt.

    I really like your 1st resolution because it carries such a simple yet powerful message.

  20. Stacey

    I just realized today that you tagged me. Goes to show how often I’m online.

    Normally I’m anti-meme, but I guess I can make an exception for you.

  21. Jeff @ Upperatus

    We try to do good for the Earth every month of the year :).

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