Friday, August 21, 2009

Art & Culture: Going Green edited by Laura Pritchett

Laura Pritchett’s bio tells us that, when she isn’t writing, “she’s Dumpster-diving to save what other people throw away.” So right away you know that Going Green: Tales from Gleaners, Scavengers and Dumpster Divers (University of Oklahoma Press) is not going to be an Eco Chic view of environmentalism.

In the preface, Pritchett explains the concept:
Gleaning junk from a beach leads to a discussion of the enormous amount of plastic waste in our oceans. Picking up a pair of pants from a gutter leads to a discussion of this country’s cotton industry. Finding a dead animal from the side of the road to eat leads to, well, raised eyebrows and a chuckle of admiration. Here are essays that not only explore the reusing but explore our culture at large.
I have no trouble admitting that my own ideas about environmentalism are probably closer to Eco Chic than Pritchett’s gleaning and I can’t imagine the set of circumstances that would have me diving into a Dumpster. Still, Pritchett’s collection manages to be thought-provoking. It’s yet another view of the green movement and the 24 voices here often seem raw and even primal: something remembered from wilder times (The 1970s, maybe?) when the world was less ordered and change wasn’t an option, it was a matter of course.

In the wonderful “Bin Diver” Christopher Buckley sums it all up:
Correct or incorrect as that might be, we have nonetheless, it seems clear, at least a responsibility to ourselves if not to those who follow us -- if not some perhaps spiritual obligation -- to recycle what little we can, to avoid wasting even the least bit given to us, in wealth or in relative poverty, to be resourceful stewards of the planet.

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