4.11.2007

Red in the neck, green in the heart


So MK wants to know what I do to make a difference, environmentally speaking.
Well, shit. I’ve been holding out on ya’ll. Frankly, I’m a bit leery of talking too loudly and too muchly about our 1.8 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic panels. And our 900-watt windmill. And our two-collector solar hot water system. And the hot water loop my friend Paul and I rigged through the firebox of our Glenwood cookstove. And the cold box I built that serves as our fridge for the winter months.

I’m quiet about these things (except when I’m getting paid to not be) because somewhere deep within I’m conflicted about it all. I mean, I know it’s good stuff. But how many of my fellow Vermonters can afford to be so environmentally correct? We got lucky: Even though my freelance work bears modest financial fruit, I landed a good gig and was able to parlay it into donated materials for many of these projects. Me being a scammer and all.

It’s not like we had much choice. Our driveway is 1300-feet long; when we bought the land in ’97, we simply couldn’t afford to bring grid power back to our house site. For us, solar was truly cheaper. I like cheaper.

Still, I don’t talk about it much. Maybe it’s because I’m not really that committed an environmentalist. I love my truck and my saw. I love my tractor. I love motorcycles that can bring the front wheel up just by cracking the throttle in third gear. I love to drive for an hour so I can spend the next six riding a chairlift to the top of a mountain just so I can turn around and point myself downhill. I lead a self-indulgent life.

But that’s not even it. I think on some level I’m embarrassed to be so green. I’ve built an identity on living solidly and proudly outside the mainstream, on being so uncool I should probably pay some sort of carbon tax just for breathing. Lately, all that seems at risk.

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