Totally green to being green
A couple of weeks ago I was hanging out with my friend’s parents during a dinner party. Of all the Cool Parents I’ve met in my life, Mr. and Mrs. B. are in the Top Ten Cool Parents of All Time.You know the type I’m talking about. The parents you want to hang out with as much, if not more, than their kids. The parents who are ageless and inspire you that it’s quite possible to continue on the way we are now, partying late into the wee hours with close friends, huddled around in the kitchen until every last bottle of wine has been drained.That’s how these two were, sharing with us stories about their adventures as political activists (then and now), about touring the country on the Kerry campaign and showing us the video album of a recent trip to New Orleans to work for Habitat for Humanity (I think we watched it three times). They’re big Democrats and, as far as I can tell, are very well loved and respected by the real Aspen community – you know the super cool liberal types.So Mrs. B. is telling me this story about how she always sees this kid sorting through the recycling bin outside their condo.”I mean, he’s out there every day, just rifling through that recycling bin,” she says emphatically, taking off her glasses to reveal a furrowed brow, a face strained with concern.”Sounds psychotic,” I say, hearing my mother’s voice coming through me like a demon possessing my spirit. Growing up with two shrinks results in all kinds of on-the-spot diagnosis like the one I’ve just thrown out there.”He’s always out there and I just want to approach him so I can …”I’m thinking she’s going to say something like, “find him help” or “report him to the police for trespassing.””Give him some money for what he’s doing. It’s just so admirable.”Right, Mrs. B. Hold on just one second while I open my mouth and insert my foot. And yes, I’ll have another glass of wine.I have never been socially conscious to say the least. I can admit that. I definitely can’t be accused for not practicing what I preach. For the most part, I don’t practice, and I don’t preach. I’m lazy, for starters – not exactly the type you’d find out there sorting through the recycling bin. I didn’t use the recycling bin at all until they got one for my building and put it next to the Dumpster where it would be easy for lazy people like me to actually use it. I’ve never really cared for politics, aside from thinking Bill Clinton is too sexy for words. (Even though I’m not willing to die for my country, I would certainly get down on my knees for Bill, just in case he’s in town and reading this).But for some reason, I’ve had this social awakening over the last couple of weeks that’s almost startling, just because it’s so genuine.I did manage to squeeze in one more foot-in-mouth comment later that evening when, for some reason, I decided everyone would be interested in hearing about how much I love Peligrino.”I wish it came out of the tap,” I said. “I drink it by the caseload.”That really got Mrs. B. going about how bad bottled water is for the environment – a simple and obvious fact that doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone until recently. Just a week later, there was a story on the front page of The New York Times Styles section, detailing the vast resources wasted transporting water from places as far away as, well, Fiji for starters.It occurred to me that I am not the only stupid person out there. I am one of millions of stupid people who fell for the whole bottled water trend hook, line, and sinker. I don’t know who came up with the idea but they were smart enough to know that Americans will buy anything – even something they can get for free – if it is packaged in a pretty bottle. So I immediately went out and bought this fancy metal Swiss made bottle with pretty graphics on it and haven’t used bottled water since (okay, except maybe a bottle of Peligrino here and there.)A few days after that, I was invited to a press luncheon hosted by Related WestPac, the development company that bought the Snowmass Base Village Project. They hosted us under a big white tent on a sunny day, served us lemonade with mint and champagne and spoon fed us a delicious three course meal that was rich enough to sedate even the most rogue journalist from asking the most obvious question.Isn’t “sustainable development” a contradiction in terms?Yes, I know development is inevitable. Yes, I know it’s great they’re trying to save resources and da-da-da, but the irony of sitting there listening to these people who are making millions of dollars from this project talk about protecting the environment with bulldozers tearing up the mountainside in the background was undeniable. Maybe they’re using fewer resources – but fewer resources than what? As far as I could tell it was one big marketing ho-down to make large-scale commercial development a little more P.C.Call me a spoiled princess, but it seems to me that a true effort would take into consideration things like aesthetics. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling the picture I see when I go to Snowmass is not that pretty.The point of my little rant is I feel like I’m finally awake, even if I am new to this. Hey, I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m totally green.The Princess invites you to the Powder to the People benefit this Monday at The Crystal Palace. Cost is $50 per person. RSVP at rsvp@ PowderToThePeople.org and send your loving e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.