Welcome to Phoenix New Times' first Green Issue!
This week's paper won't feature a photo spread of all-organic fashions worn by sinewy models who subsist on raw-food diets, shot lounging on Crate and Barrel's brand-new line of eco-friendly patio furniture. (Although it does include a profile of a woman who makes vegan bondage gear — we couldn't resist.)
Get the rundown: Green Fatigue: by the numbers
We don't have tips for buying Earth-friendly light bulbs, or a list of Alice Cooper's favorite ways to conserve energy. And we don't care if you put a brick in your toilet to conserve water or drive an alternative-fuel vehicle, because — get this — it really doesn't matter. As you'll learn from the stories here, we have no water shortage in metropolitan Phoenix — not now anyway. It's use it or lose it. And that natural-gas-powered Ford Expedition? It might impress your neighbors and get you access to the HOV lane, but it's no easier on the atmosphere than the gasoline-powered version.
The most inconvenient truth of all, it turns out, is this: The Green Movement might make you feel warm and fuzzy, but it won't stop global warming. Really want to save the planet? Don't drive across town to that eco-fashion show. In fact, don't buy those new hemp tennis shoes, or a hybrid car. Wear your old clothes, drive your old car, and save up for solar panels.
This week, we made the ultimate sacrifice: Our writers put on their thinking caps, got out their calculators, and told the true stories about what it really means to be green in this corner of the desert.
Sarah Fenske wants you to know that she runs her air conditioning only under duress from others, but it's not because she's an environmentalist: She's both frugal and cold-blooded, as you'll learn in "The Green Machine". Because she believes in free markets, it pains her to admit that individuals aren't doing their part when it comes to solar power. But whether they like it or not, they'll be paying up soon.
Growing up in Tucson, Megan Irwin learned to "Beat the Peak" and conserve water, which is why her assignment — "Waterlogged" — was such a tough one. This is a girl who walks the walk (she's got the vintage clothing collection to prove it) and we had to pry her arms from around a tree to get her to report that, although it sounds weird, there really is no compelling reason for Phoenicians to turn off the hose.
Eight years ago, Ray Stern broke the original story about the alt-fuels scandal in Arizona — the one that cost taxpayers $140 million in subsidies for cars that, as Ray reports this week in "Fuelish Mistakes", may not have ever held more than a few gallons of alternative fuels. As Ray reports, there are no easy answers when it comes to transportation. Even bicycling has been discounted by a group of Stanford researchers: Because you'll get fit and live longer, it actually hurts the Earth more in the long run.
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Steve Jansen is still crushed because the Tempe woman who makes wallets out of used bicycle tubes never called him back. But he contented himself with conversations with a guy who harvests rainwater, a woman who is concerned your alarm clock might be killing you, and the aforementioned vegan bondage gal.
Robrt Pela tells a funny story about recycling. He was at his parents' house, and noticed that his father kept leaving plastic bottles by the door. Robrt thought Dad had finally lost it, 'til he realized his father was recycling. "So that's what it looks like," Robrt said to himself. As he admits in "Down in the Dump", despite fond memories of Woodsy Owl, he does not recycle, and even a trip to Phoenix's largest garbage-transfer station didn't convince him otherwise.
We sent John Dickerson out ("Recycling 101") to investigate just what kind of damage Robrt is doing by refusing to separate his eBay boxes from his kitty litter. (Here's a hint: not much.)
Crank the A/C, crack open a plastic, single-serving water bottle, and enjoy the read, because next Earth Day, we're writing about something else.