Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.
How long did you spend in the shower this morning, reader? 10 minutes? 15 minutes? You greedy sack of shit. How dare you! Mother Earth is screaming in pain as you overwash your genitals! Mother Earth also screams every time you shave, do laundry, or flush a toilet that only has urine in it.
I recently read an article about eco-friendly college houses where a whiteboard is placed outside the bathroom. The residents record how long it took them to shower that morning, and the winner gets the satisfaction of knowing they did the poorest job of washing themselves.
The day the reporter visited the house, the winning shower was two minutes and 18 seconds. I suppose that’s not hard when you skip the unnecessary parts of showering, like getting wet or washing your body with soap. Why not just line everyone up in the backyard each morning and spray them with the hose?
Two minutes is way too short. It takes me at least five minutes in my daily shower to mutter angrily about all the things I hate in my life. Then I spend a few minutes washing my hair and soaping myself, and then I fall asleep standing up. My shower ends when the hot water in my apartment runs out and I wake up.
These eco-houses also use the old septic tank adage of “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” I’m not a man of many talents, but I am quite skilled at losing my rental deposit, and caking your toilet with a permanent ring of urine stains is a great way to do that. And let me tell you, there’s few things ladies love more than houses where you’re never more than a room away from a standing bowl of urine.
Once you stop making people flush the toilet, what’s to keep them from sliding further down that slope? If I lived in an eco-friendly house, by the second week I’d be peeing in the sink and various other bowl-shaped receptacles. “What’s the difference?” I’d say, not even bothering to zip up afterwards. “As long as I’m ‘letting it mellow’, the environment is winning.”
I’d be so terrified of becoming that type of person that I’d start fighting back against everyone in the house. I’d increase my shower time to compensate for all the water my roommates were saving, and instead of reducing the size of our refrigerator, I’d buy an additional one and use it to store items that don’t even need refrigeration, like canned vegetables.
Believe it or not, in reality I’m actually very eco-friendly. I ride the bus to work each day. I take the subway on weekends so I don’t have to drive. My car – which gets a discount on insurance because I drive it less than 5,000 miles per year – gets 32 mpg. I use energy-efficient light bulbs. I turn off and unplug my laptop when I’m not using it.
I certainly do a lot – more than most Americans – yet every time I mention it to eco-friendly people, their response is that I should do more. Do they realize how annoying that is? This is why the world hates eco-friendly people. It’s annoying and pompous to have an all-or-nothing attitude about the environment, especially when it’s not necessary.
Mother Earth is a meaner and tougher bitch than most of us realize, and she’ll do just fine as long as we’re sensible. People should conserve energy, recycle, and buy fuel efficient cars, but if you’re composting your own garbage and scorning everyone else who doesn’t, then you’re trying too hard, E-tard. There’s a difference between responsibility and obsessiveness.
Not to get too Chris Rock about it, but there’s two sides: Eco-friendly people and E-tards, and E-tards have got to go. I know everyone needs a hobby, but is timing other people’s showers really a good choice? Twenty years ago when you started this environmental crusade, did you imagine that someday you’d be yelling at people for flushing the toilet?
Take a step back and use some tact. Small and rational changes will save the world. Requesting that people go back to the stone age to lower their carbon footprint puts you in the same category as that bearded guy holding the “Obey Jesus, He is coming” sign. If environmentalism makes life a pain in the ass to live, then you’re doing it wrong. Get some Xanax and stop hyperventilating every time a cow farts.
In the same way that you get your dog to the vet by smiling really big and luring him into the car with a treat, get lazy Americans into environmentalism by being really nice and luring them with higher gas mileage and lower electricity bills. If you curse at your dog and try to force him into the car, he’s probably going to bite your genitals, and lazy Americans should do no less to E-tards.