The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Obviously, we are in the throes of an unprecedented ecological disaster. The bad news is our everyday news as of late. And, being in South Florida it is ever more pressing and ever more personal. Marine life is being desecrated at unsurpassed speed, and at levels that we won't even realize for some time to come. The mix of chemicals and oil has already caused many to fall ill, and is a grave worry for those of us who are at the beginning of hurricane season and fall right in the path of where all of that chemical, oil, and water will spew. Our water resources, our food sources, our air and water quality is all in jeopardy.  And, that is just the bad news.

The ugly is that the oil has been gushing for over 50 days and there is no end in sight. The ugly is that BP is controlling the clean-up and images that are being realeased to the media, meaning we aren't even seeing the worst of it. And, the ugly is that our entire ecosystem is in danger of failing because of a man-made disaster that could have been prevented. The Gulf has already suffered. It is the dumping ground for the entire midwest agribusiness chemical fallout, with tons of pesticides running off farms straight into the Mississippi and down the drain into the Gulf. It is a bulls eye target for some of the largest and most deadly hurricanes in recent history, namely Katrina and Rita. And, now it is full of oil. What was just a dead zone in the middle of the Gulf, in my opinion will become entirely dead, a dumping ground that will take a lot of resiliency and many decades to come back. But, the real ugly is that it probably never will.

I have been distraught thinking of the impacts. The impact on all of that innocent marine life, the impact on all of the innocent families that make a living from fishing the Gulf, the impact on the local economies, the impact on our food resources, the impact on our waterways, the impact that one major hurricane that rolls through the area may endure, and the impact that oil in general has taken over our lives.

But, there is a good. The good is in the light that this catastrophic disaster has shed on our dependency on oil. The good is in the light that is slowly being shed on the corporate greed and power that runs our economy. The good is that people are starting to ask how can I decrease my oil dependency? The good is that people are starting to connect the dots between oil and byproducts of oil, and I am not just talking gasoline in our tanks. It is not an overwhelming response, but one we are seeing locally and trying with all of our might to help people realize. So what can you do? Stop buying products made with oil, stop giving them your dollars, and help sway a shift in our dependency on oil in the first place. Stop using plastic bags, stop using disposable diapers, stop buying bottled water. Three simple things that you can do, three simple things that if loads of people did, it would make a difference, the corporate giants would feel the pinch.

We are also embarking on a new adventure to travel and educate people on the benefits of using waste vegetable oil (WVO) as fuel, instead of gasoline. We are the proud new owners of the Live Lightly Tour bus, and it seems to have fallen into our hands at such a crucial time. You can convert any diesel engine to run on WVO, and educating others of this possibility is a step. People are searching for ways to make a change, and we hope to spread the news that it is tangible. More on this to come, along with some local events being planned.

In concert with our boys' local Roots & Shoots group, we have also participated in collecting hair for the Hair Project, a program of the Matter of Trust organization. We collected hair from local salons, barber shops, pet groomers, and barns and sent to the many warehouses set up along the Gulf. They then stuff the hair, fur, and fleece into nylons to make hair booms that line wetlands and beaches to sop up the spreading oil, best they can. Some have said they are not doing much to actually sop up the oil, but if they are doing something, even catching a little bit in a small area, then it is making a difference. I am tired of people saying that you can't change things on a small scale. If there isn't change from the top down, then the only way is to make small changes from the bottom and work your way up.

So, what have you done to help with the clean-up? Or what have you done to decrease your dependency on oil? Or, what do you want to do? Think about the possibilities, and take one small step to make a difference. It does matter. And, we would love to hear from you and join with you in making these changes, so that there is more good and less ugly.

Angela Malson