Thursday, March 28, 2013

a Rant not gone to waste.

     It's been a while since I've taken the time to really crank out a complete blog-thought, complaint, or... Joke.? I split my most recent vacation time between South Carolina and Texas, so my southern drawl and country twang is recharged and liable to slip on out. I'd like to talk about a few things that are down right annoying ;).
     I don't think I have many pet peeves, but the few I claim are justified (even if only in my mind). To what degree or range of irritation does something have to reach to earn the badge of pet peevery? The bothersome buzz must be annoying enough to generate a physical response (I.e. wide or rolling eyes, grunting or growling, puckered lips, tightened chest, etc.), preventable by surrounding knucklehead-friends, and overlooked by most people. 
     I can't stand when people leave the faucet running the entire 2 minutes as they brush their teeth. Yes, it takes that long or should and I don't care who pays the bill. I hate unnecessary packaging material that fills up my trash can. I hate running small loads through the washers, dish or laundry. I also don't like when the milk jug gets crusty but I don't think that's relevant. In short, being wasteful is my nail-scratching, deeply-rooted pet peeve... Because I can't just say stupid people. 
     The majority of these nuisances live in developed countries and identify themselves as contributing community members, yet they have the audacity to call the less fortunate people of developing countries lazy, unwilling to work, and even backwards. Are they the backwards ones? 
     Those people work their tails off everyday to provide their families and even neighbors with the appropriate amount of resources- food and water. The field crops are a product of their blood, sweat, and more sweat (they don't show much emotion). They eat what they need and dont know what obesity is. They would gladly take the 1,400  calories wasted per American per day (in 2009) [4]They walk to a well to pull buckets of water for bathing, drinking, washing, and cooking daily. If you were pulling water in front of everyone and then carrying it back, maybe you would rethink that long, steamy shower session. I guarantee you the household water usage is still less by a family 5 folds larger than the typical American family of four that uses up to 400 gallons a day (EPA). Im not spending all day at the well for that. 

     You've got me on the trash. A modern waste management system is slow to come together with littering as the norm, leaving city streets lined in trash. They recognize the growing problem, however, and retaliate by collecting the debris from homes, streets , and shop fronts to burn weekly. Trash day Wednesday! Dont forget to dump your bucket out back. Maybe you didn't get me as good as I let on. Nobody likes the smell of burning junk, the chance of a wildfire, or adding more carcinogenic compounds to the air, but its that or watch it pile up.     Dont get too cozy. America’s biggest export is trash — the scrap paper and metal we throw away. The Chinese buy it, make products out of it, sell them back to us at enormous profit, and we turn it into trash again. America, the country that once made things for the world, is now China’s trash compactor.-  from the LA Times, speaking on  Edward Humes’ new book, Garbology.  The average American discards about 4.5 pounds of trash a day [2]. The total volume of solid waste produced in the U.S. each year is equal to the weight of more than 5,600 Nimitz Class air craft carriers, 247,000 space shuttles, or 2.3 million Boeing 747 jumbo jets [3].  Albeit, recycling is on the rise (and finally catching on in the south) but we have no room for our own trash, much less to talk about others'.

Bring more sustainable habits into your life and to the attention of others. You can calculate your ecological footprint and DO something about it. Below are some of the easiest ways you can reduce your impact. Even small actions. 
WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to help families and businesses reduce water use in a BIG way with a few simple steps, like upgrading to more efficient products. For more info, visit!

And for God's sake, turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth!
[1] Sorensen, M. (2010, Mar 1). A Lot to Digest. Waste Age. (
[2] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2009, November). 
Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States Detailed Tables and Figures for 2008. Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery.

[3] R.W. Beck, Inc. (2001). “Size of the United States Solid Waste Industry.” 
[4] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2010, March 1). Statistics on the Management of Used and End-of-Life Electronics. (

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First World Problems... you guys are killin me.

On my way out of Dakar, volunteers that recently visited the states shared a "First World Problems" video along with other current memes to catch me up on the notable events and maybe ease the shock during my visit home. Although the video should have been humorous, I could hardly watch it. Im not saying that Im not guilty of making undeserving complaints, but not to this degree. 
First World Problems, White Whines, or if you want to be correct, Developed World Problems are not problems. My Peace Corps service in Senegal has broadened my worldly perspective and understanding of cultures at different stages of development. No textbook, teacher, or video had a chance of making a lasting mark beyond the initial, yet genuine, interest, which only the experience itself could do. Now I see  live with people in less fortunate situations (if that does it justice) that have to take leaps and bounds everyday instead of just surviving the long Starbucks line and unnecessary McDonald's calories. Get out of your comfort zone, care about something bigger, help someone out... In return, you might find the self-satisfying feeling that no prized electronic device can offer. (thats a topic for another day). 

video summary: 
Your phone charger wont reach your bed? 
     These kids dont have electricity and probably share a bed/a floor mat with a few other kids. 
Your house is too big... for one wireless router?
     They live in rickety buildings or huts that might have doors. 
You left your clothes in the washer machine too long? 
     They wash in the creek or pull well water and wash by hand.