"R" is for Resolution

Our resident eco-radical has a special view of New Year's resolutions...

by Robert T. Nanninga
mericans love tradition, our culture is rife with them, some borrowed and some uniquely our own. This time of the year we do the "Let's make promises that we have no intent on keeping" tradition. It's as though the resolution is enough, and that no further action is required. We have all made them: "Go on a Diet," "Exercise More," and my favorite: "I'll be the Environmental President," for a "kinder and gentler nation." It's rather amusing that we have started to talk in sound bites and make campaign promises to ourselves.
According to Webster's' dictionary a resolution is: "the thing determined upon; decision as to future action." In other words, the first step. You can say "I am going to lose weight" until your tongue falls out (which might help), but unless you actually bring about weight loss, you are lying to yourself, and in reality shrinking your chances for success in that arena. Sooner or later you will forgo the effort of making resolutions real, and settle in to your old habits that you say you wish so much to change.
Please don't get me wrong, I think everyone should have a list of resolutions and read them aloud. The size of the list is not important it is the wording and then the follow-up that matters. There is no power in the statement, "I will try to recycle this year." There is however, no mistaking your commitment to the planet with the resolution, "I will Recycle." And then doing it.
Now for those of you readers who have got the recycling thing down, what's your next step? How about improving your environment? How about making resolutions to reduce your consumptive practices? How about identifying your next thing and doing it?
Considering that I have an audience, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you:

Bob's List of Resolutions for America 1995

1) Plant One Indigenous Plant Per Month
We all know that worldwide deforestation is a considerable problem. But how many people are aware that local ecosystems are disappearing at a rate faster than that of the South American rain forests? Although it is true that trees are the lungs of our planet, other plants are just as vital to a healthy environment.
Residents of San Diego continue to plant non-indigenous species at an alarming rate. This does insure beautiful neighborhoods, but at what cost? We consume considerable amounts of water to keep this desert green. By planting indigenous life forms you are helping to restore the balance of local habitats. It seems senseless to me to remove plants that need very little water to survive, then replace them with thirsty nonnatives.
Eucalyptus trees were not introduced until 1900, about the same time old growth oaks were sacrificed for citrus crops. Now those orange groves have given way to housing developments. Compounding the loss is that the local habitat known as dry coastal chaparral is clear-cut to protect the sprawling suburbs from fire. Which in turn is a vital part of the reproduction of the local habitat. Planting native species encourages local wildlife to thrive. Englemann oaks are beautiful trees that add beauty to any home. Torrey pines, sycamores, white sage, and manzanita are all good landscaping choices for southern California. Nature has a way of providing for itself, so let's start treating nonnatives, such as eucalyptus trees, like the weeds they are. It's time San Diegans supported it's native state.
2) Use Less Hair Care Products
In a world where war is successful, disease on the upswing, and the water is unfit to drink, don't you think it rather vain and somewhat manic, to spend so much time and money, not to mention natural resources, on our hair? To truly understand where I'm coming from, go to your local supermarket and count the number of shampoo's, conditioners, creme rinses, gels, mousses, dyes, and sprays available. Do we as a species need to be introducing this amount of chemicals into our environment, for the mere sake of becoming Mr. and Mrs. Beautiful Shiny Bouncy Hair?
Dandruff shampoo is to combat flaky scalp. Has anyone considered that flaky scalp might be a direct result of all the chemical detergents that we inflict upon ourselves? When will Americans realize that the only people who benefit from 200 brands of shampoo are the manufacturers? It is certainly not the fish or people who live downstream of processing plants. Native Americans seemed to thrive without Hot Oil Treatments. Come to think of it, I have never seen an Indian with a bald spot. It is my personal belief that all the goo we put on our collective head, is causing the balding of the American Male. Everything needed to keep your hair clean and healthy can be grown in your backyard. It is called Rosemary. So let's get the vanity monkey off the planet's back, and learn to live with hair that doesn't smell like a whorehouse.
3) Request and Buy Organic Choices at Your Local Supermarket
If the cliché "you are what you eat" is accurate, it is safe to say most Americans are (well preserved) walking waste dumps. It is time that we as consumers flex our muscle in regards to food safety. Once upon a time an apple a day kept the doctor away, now those same apples are often overtreated with pesticides. Aware of health and environmental hazards, our government continues to subsidize a chemically addicted agro-industry more interested in quantity than quality of produce and the soil needed to sustain it. These agricultural interests are usually owned by large corporations, that have turned the American breadbasket into disease prone monocultures.
Organic foods are grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. But there is more to it than that. Organic farmers have a fundamental belief that the best food crops come from soil that is nurtured rather than treated. Organic farmers take great care to give the soil nutrients, just as we need to take greater care of our bodies. Organic farmers prefer to provide these essential soil builders in natural ways, using cover crops instead of chemical fertilizers, releasing predator insects rather than spraying pesticides and hand weeding rather than applying herbicides. All better for the earth and all better for the people working and eating from the land.
So when shopping, if your local market does not see a reason to carry organic produce, tell them you are taking your business elsewhere until they do. As long as the consumer continues to purchase chemically aided broccoli, the market will provide it. In the words of Nancy Reagan, "Just Say No to Drugs."
4) Make a Difference
And last but not least, the best thing you can do for yourself and the community, is to get involved with an environmental group. Whether it is cleaning up a local beach, rescuing injured wildlife, or volunteering for organizations like San Diego Earth Day or the Sierra Club. Every effort towards a healthier planet will be felt for years to come. The dry flaky skin you save may be your own.

Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan and active member of the Green and environmental community.