October 19th, 2010
Dear Houston: Mean Go Green
Houston, is it your job to single-handedly ruin the environment? I mean, not only are you the Mecca of the oil industry, but you hardly support recycling. I’m driving a hybrid and doing my part, but where is everyone’s social conscience?
Let’s reign in those accusations for just a moment, shall we Mr. Gore? Being the mecca of the oil industry is not a product of local flavor, but a direct representation of where we are as a nation, and on a broader scale, where we are as a planet. As long as we’re dependent on black gold, I have more to lose than gain from kowtowing to the political grandstand du jour. If I don’t provide a safe harbor for the big money (and the resulting employment opportunities) from Big Oil, another city will.
You can stand on a soapbox and scream till you’re green in the face that everyone should drive a Prius, but if you think it’s just America’s driveaholics causing our outrageous oil consumption, you’re just another political droid. A 42 gallon barrel of oil produces approximately 19 gallons of gasoline, so until you have a plan to sustainably and cost-effectively replace key components in solvents, ink, upholstery, bicycle tires, motorcycle helmets, jet fuel, umbrellas, dentures, enamel, anesthetics, food preservatives, petroleum jelly, basketballs, antiseptics, anti-freeze, caulking, jobs, floor wax, oil filters, soap, pantyhose and the hundreds of other products derived in some way from crude, getting rid of your clunker just means that you’ve been promoted from the boiler room to the captain’s chair on the Titanic. Congratulations. And keep telling your shipmates, the thousands employed by O&G companies in Houston that you’re on a higher plane of understanding now, and you’ll be mutinied long before you have the pleasure of watching Leo let go.
Now then, that being said, I am all for heightened sustainability and responsibility approached in a realistic manner. So kudos to those driving vehicles that operate on unicorn dreams and also realize that crude consumption doesn’t stop there. But because the money in Big Oil is way too entrenched on a global scale to wait on a trickle-down of backhanded responsibility, Houstonians will need to pursue grass-roots self-accountability and force that attitude up the chain. Good recycling programs are a great start.
About that….look….I was going through a rough patch. Until recently, I admit it- I was one of the worst. There was a bad breakup, I wasn’t really taking care of myself and I fell off the wagon. No one wanted to spend money on the service, I didn’t know where to take my glass and who the hell can fit all their recycling into a green bin the size of a shoebox anyway?! But I’m getting better.
I’ve cut ribbons on multiple, regional recycling centers that should remove the excuses for people who dump their trash illegally. Earlier this year, I kicked off a big boy recycling initiative that includes incentives for pounds of recycling. It only services a small portion of the population, but it’s a start and my Director of Sustainability, Laura Spanjian, is dead set on bringing it to a neighborhood near you. I had to swallow some pride and give San Fran a call, but Laura’s a west coast big gun that’s worth having in the holster. Continued cooperation with non-profits such as We CAN Recycle is providing a place to get rid of my glass containers and Annise is doing her part by helping me out with the Green Office Challenge (That may not exactly be recycling in the most literal sense, but it’s another step in the right direction).
So, Ruston, before you get on that high horse, keep in mind that those who shout the loudest are often the ones that listen the least. Take a chill pill, bro-heathen and engage in a little introspection. The programs are out there now, but it’s up to you to use them and spread that proactive attitude. It’s not easy being green, but as long as we all realize that it’s a journey, not a destination, I’ll keep getting better.
My name is Houston, and I approve this message.