You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your relatives or your neighbors; at least that’s what “they” (yes, the ubiquitous “they”) say. That’s true enough, and it’s sometimes a real shame, too. My (former) next-door neighbors just lost their home due to foreclosure and I can’t honestly say I’m sorry to see them go. They were very odd people regardless and, worse, they lived like some kind of creatures which would foul their own nest. I’ll not go into details; I was only over there once and I was pretty shocked by the squalor (and the smell). My new neighbors, the new owners, are literally racing to make the house livable again; the lady is pregnant and they’re trying to get the house ready for human habitation before the baby makes its grand appearance. They haven’t provided specific details of the job’s magnitude, but they say it’s pretty bad.
How could anyone live like that? I’m reminded of the bit from Pulp Fiction when Jules explains why he won’t eat pork. That’s not quite the way my old neighbors were living, but it’s pretty close.
I’m not anyone’s idea of a major environmentalist, but it’s becoming pretty obvious that we as a species seem to be living a lot like my ex-neighbors. I’ve been taught that Earth’s all we’ve got, and it’s been put here for us to use and enjoy, but not for us to to use up. Fouling your own nest isn’t a particularly intelligent thing to do.
I was going to tell you a story about a particularly egregious example, an ex-boss of mine who thinks the whole thing’s literally funny (“I laugh at my daughter all the time about how we’re leaving a big mess for her generation to clean up!”) but you’d either not believe me or think I’m trying to make a political statement (even though none of this has a single blessed thing to do with politics). So I’ll leave it at this: there’s no harm in trying to leave a place in better shape than in the condition we found it — and every little bit helps.
At ChessCentral, we’re just trying to do our part by using recycled packing materials. ChessCentral’s warehouse recycles all delivery boxes and cleans up with environmentally safe products. The use of compact fluorescent light bulbs not only helps the environment but cuts energy costs.
We walk to work so no gasoline consumption and fossil fuel emissions, not to mention the health benefits. Our office equipment is energy efficient, particularly the computers we use. My personal office is as close to “paperless” as I can get it: other than jotting down an occasional “note to self” or printing out a gamescore for reference when I make a chess game video, everything I crank out is digital. When I do physically write something down, I use pencils, not pens (it’s a personal preference anyway, but it’s also better to use up a pencil than have a plastic ballpoint pen barrel sitting in a landfill for the next umpteen years). I’m also personally a cheapskate, so there’s a level of “enlightened self-interest” at work here: I’m typing these words on a energy efficient laptop under a 40-watt desk lamp, because I really hate, hate, hate electric bills.
Is there more I could be doing? Sure — we all could. I’m not a Greenpeace candidate at all, but I do believe in trying to do my share to not “foul the nest”. Everybody at ChessCentral feels the same way; we just wanted to let you know and to encourage you to help out, too, in any way you’re able — large or small — so the whole joint doesn’t end up being like my ex-neighbor’s house. Yeeeech!
Have fun! — Steve