Monday, February 1, 2010

dear chicago, go green please. thank you.

So I don’t consider myself to be an environmentalist by ANY means, but there are certain things that the city of Chicago should really… rethink. (I know, right? Whoever would’ve thought that a bit of SF would actually rub off on me? The girl who slightly scoffed when Triage decided to up the green-friendliness ante with sensors for the lights in the kitchen, low flow toilets, NO plastic silverware/cups/etc, and wow… composting. Talk about con-fusing. Thankfully, the pictures helped a lot of things for me. So much so that I actually truly enjoyed composting after a couple of months. No, seriously!)

When I came to Chicago, I was actually kind of pleased about not having to worry so much about offending individuals who were so f’ing environmentally conscious that I couldn’t really even joke about using a plastic spoon because I didn’t trust the “dishwashing” process that was utilized when Triage eliminated plastic cutlery. Wowza. Hello, there. Needless to say, the reprimanding I received left me quite frightened, thus leading me to keep all my environmentally-inspired opinions (joking or otherwise) to myself. I scare easily, I know. Anyway.

But, my goodness, dear Chicago, given how perfect you are in my eyes, how can you so fail me in an issue/area that I wasn’t even that interested in to begin with?

For one, grocery stores… and their darn plastic bags – okay, maybe it’s a touch extreme for the city of Chicago to adapt to MY preferred method of lugging around my groceries (in my nice sturdy cloth Strand bag, WHICH, by the way, I got for free in New York in 2006, and which I’ve found to be quite multifaceted in use since then) but, Chicago, dear sweet Chicago, at LEAST switch over to paper bags. Oh wait, no, before even switching over to paper bags, at the VERY least, quit f’ing DOUBLE BAGGING my groceries with your PLASTIC bags. Okay, I understand that if you pile way too many groceries/items into one single plastic bag, the plastic bag risks falling apart. Fair enough. But to double bag a plastic bag consisting of (ironically) paper plates and a box of Kleenex? Seriously? Seriously. Let’s use some common sense here.

Next up: plastic silverware – omg, whenever I use a plastic cup or plastic silverware now, I literally cringe. How difficult is it, really, for individuals to bring in their own coffee mugs, actual utensils, and the like? I mean, it literally takes two seconds out of your day to wash these things out and who couldn’t use a little break from time to time? I guess it would be helpful if we could snag some dishwashing liquid and, dare I dream, a sponge to start that revolution… one. Slow. Step at a time here. (Please note that there is no bitterness involved here. None.)

Thirdly: garbage – wow. I never really thought I fully appreciated the art of recycling, let alone composting, until I moved here and realized that it truly is a lost art that (very quickly) needs to be found. Okay, I understand that composting is a relatively newfound fad for the mainstream population. But recycling? Hello. That’s been around since at LEAST 1988 (when I was first introduced to the concept). Sure, there are random recycling bins scattered intermittently throughout restaurants/bars/coffee shops/the workplace for, say, cans or bottles of soda… but… but what about everything ELSE that can be recycled? First and foremost, paper. Let’s be honest here. Recycling 101 if you will. Prominent displays for such recycling would not only be helpful, but are kind of necessary, as people are inherently lazy to begin with… therefore, as there IS some thought required in terms of which is the “proper” bin to place your recycled goods, signs/displays would be quite helpful. Pictures would be optimal (please reference my aforementioned success with the art of composting thanks to those pictures as guides).

And last, but certainly not least: public transportation and/or carpooling – I must say, Chicago’s public transportation system is rather top-notch. Now, maybe it’s because my two primary reference points (my apartment and my company) are both very centrally located, but I just don’t understand why the CTA is not more actively advertised. I’ve tried to instigate my own personal advertising campaign for the beauty of public transportation, but I can only do so MUCH. It’s taxing! But really. The use of cabs and personal cars in this city is. absolutely. Unreal. As is illustrated by, ugh, the incessant traffic. While I understand there are certain places that necessitate traffic because of a lack of a comprehensive public transit system (read: LA… which has its own set of issues that I will just refrain from going into here), I truly don’t believe that the Chicagoland area has much excuse. Even for those suburbanites, the Metra seems to be quite handy dandy (from what I hear, although, in all fairness, I haven’t ridden it all that much to extensively discuss). Now, I’m not one to say that I haven’t taken a cab from time to time, but people who use cabs as their primary mode of transportation should really re-evaluate a few things (and, by ‘a few things’, I do mean ‘carbon FOOTPRINT’, people!) in their lives. At least actively advertise the lost art of carpooling! I mean, think about it. What better way to meet people during your night out on the town, right? Right. for the environmentally friendly, if you will. Alksdfj! (OMG, if you happen to meet the love of your life using this technique, I will be expecting an email ASAP detailing the situation. Primarily so I can use it in your wedding toast because you KNOW I’ll be calling bridesmaid, thank you very much.)

So, in conclusion, Chicago… shape up. Right now. Please? Just a few simple steps and you’ll easily restore your (currently tainted) image of perfection in my eyes.

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