Friday, October 24, 2008


I feel like a wee hypocrite when I talk about the Bioneers' conferences.
First off: I'm not a trustafarian college kid helping out at an empowering spoken word throwdown for extra credit in my "Community Outreach" elective. Nor am I one of their parents propitiating a sense of Class Guilt by listening, glazedly, to lectures about green-collar urban initiatives and Code Pink empassioneering.
I am thrilled to see that community organizations like Third Eye and the Coalition for Buzzards Bay can get involved, collaborate, and make their presence and work in New Bedford's new economy real and relevant. Every year, I hope that the wearisome naysayers -- the ones who call Bioneers "The Smores 'n Kumbaya Crowd"-- will see that the work these people do is important, that our environment is important, that innovative ideas are important.
And then somebody starts a SpiritBall Toss or Gaia Consciousness Relationship Roundtable and the waverers fall to the other side.
To bring this all to concrete terms, allow me to share my ethical dilemma.
There are about 2 million diabetes blogs. I really don't ever discuss my diabetes here in The Journal. Of course, I don't talk much about boats either. My reasons are complex, mostly along the lines of "it's nobody's business and nobody cares." Plus, I find many diabetes bloggers either disturbingly techno-dependent and presumptuous (that is, even when they're not actually pharm shills), or there's a certain vulgar and condescending quality to them. And I have trouble with insipid nicknames for spouses, children, and insulin pumps. Plus, I have only received resentful and high-handed e-mails from Type-2 diabetics who claim that I am "a bad diabetic" since I talk about rum and that my kidneys failed. (I know, I blame the Lyme disease, but we all know it was that sip of rhum agricole Clement Cuvee Homere. Oh, and while we're at it, never mind the particulars about pumps and diabetes management. It's "diabeetees," not "die-a-beat-us." For obvious reasons.)
As a juvenile diabetic, I have always been aware of my utter non-Green-ness and, due to my vestigial Catholic guilt, I spend a lot of energy making sure that I do not leave too egregious a footprint on our orb. (Hell, just not having kids must be worth something.)
I take Navy showers. I use little water while doing the dishes. I've devised elaborate systems of window and shade opening and closing to enhance the manse's passive solar heating. I divide the trash and recyclables, and I plan to repair our composting process before the Winter. I sometimes don't even turn on the computer or television machine. I keep trips in the auto to a necessary minimum.
No matter how little electricity it uses.
But I have attached a machine to my person which uses resources in ways I cannot even begin to express guilt over: An Insulin Pump.
You would think that a tiny device, smaller than a cellphone, would solve a lot of ecological crises. I'm not using four or five syringes everyday, producing medical waste and dangerous sharps. I'm not using test tubes and harmful chemicals to test my urine or blood anymore either. Of course the little test strips and their containers (which are plastic but don't have the little recycling triangle on them), and the batteries for the pump and glucometer add up.
But this is the amount of the waste I produce every month:
Of course, you can discount the recyclable paper products, like the boxes that the test strips, reservoirs, and infusion sets come in, along with their 30-page instruction and legal disclaimer manuals. And the prescription bottles made of #2 or #5 plastic. And the weekly eight-page, 42-cent itemized reminders from my insurance company that they're saving me money. (Oops, I forgot the product mailing cartons I receive every month from Wilford "Die-a-beat-us" Brimley.)Recyclable And then there's the stuff that gets stuck in me and stuck in the little machine (a tiny -- I mean tiny -- little cannula makes this seem like "medical waste" but it's not. For some reason.). Only one at a time Anyway, nobody can tell me how I can recycle these tubes and cylinders. If at all. Seriously. I've asked around. It has, however, been suggested that I could give them to one of my artist friends. But the equipment smells like insulin, which has a vaguely potato-y pong.
So that means that about this much stuff ends up in the landfill, because of me, every year: Though, not necessarily on the Belgian block street

And that's why I wasn't at the Zeiterion last night as the Bioneers opened their eco-conference in New Bedford. The End.


bigsam27 said...

Navy showers

My father was a Navy guy and, thus, imposed sub-two minute showers on the lot of us. Not so bad for me and my wiffle, but tough on my three long-haired sisters.

As an adult, I must confess that I no longer subscribe to this practice. I now take obscenely long, hot showers. Although much of my stress and tension gurgles down the drain, it is replaced by the shame of Green Guilt.

This is my dirty, er... clean, little secret.

ThirdMate said...

Glad to hear from you again, bigsam!

I didn't give the impression that I regularly take Navy showers ... did I?