Vancouver
3 min

Reduce, reuse, recycle

What do we really need?

Credit: Xtra West files

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: it is the mantra of the environmental movement. Are queers doing it? Can we do it better? We’re here to help.



Beyond food, clothing, shelter, lube and a decent haircut, what do we really “need” anyway? We want many a thing and that’s okay to a point, environmentalists tell us, but we would do well to downsize our material desires: simplify our lives, and save our planet. What we can’t downsize, perhaps we can share. We polled our community, er, our friends, and got some advice.



Some dykes on The Drive reminded us that radical feminist lesbian politics in the 1970s and 1980s incorporated an anti-poverty element or, as they put it, an awareness of class issues. This meant that at the forefront of dyke life was a belief that no-one deserves poverty and an awareness that women are more likely to be its victims. As one woman told us, “When I came out in the early 1980s I lived in a house with five other lesbians. Those with more money were expected to contribute more to the cost of food and rent. We frowned on women who bought new clothes or new cars. They were the ‘gazebo dykes’-the professional lesbian women’s social club that charged a lot of money to get into their events. All East Side events featured a sliding scale-meaning, you paid what you could afford to.”



In that context, reduce, reuse and recycle was politically correct in more ways than one. When asked about it, one dyke who has since relocated to an unnamed, but more urban part of the city, bitterly quipped that as she remembers it, the lesbian community in Vancouver recycled and reused lovers more often than bottles and newspaper.



Toning down our levels of consumption is something that most North Americans with a shred of political awareness have been trying to do-for years. Queers are no exception. Here are the practices we’ve noticed for “walking softly on the earth.”



First, things that work:



• Baby clothes. The little tykes are only little for a while, and with the current rate of homo-procreation, there are lots of tots to pass things down to. Worried about getting behind on the latest Baby Gap trends? They don’t worry about fashion, so why should you?



• Used adult clothing: the stuff that’s really ripped can be ripped further-into rags (good for cleaning your truck). The stuff that’s only “fake” ripped . . . well, send it to Sally Ann. You’re too old to wear clothes like that and others will find a fashion statement in them.



• Pornography. Bored? Just pass it on. It will be “new” to someone else.



• Old issues of the New Yorker. Bundle up the ones with Iraq war coverage and ship them back to the US. Turns out 40 percent of Americans read the Bible; maybe we can convince the rest of them to find out what their government has been up to. On second thought, maybe we should build one of those border fences.



Not everything that people reported actually reduces the impact on the environment.



• Note to everyone: Showering with a friend does not save water.



• On the other hand, bicycling is generally a good thing, but not when you have to get your friend with an SUV to drive you home because you got too drunk to pedal. Net environmental gain? Take the bus.



• Jogging to work keeps the environment clean, but not you. Did you hear that cow farts cause three percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas? At least another 2 percent comes from arriving at work unshowered. (This is the one case in which showering with a friend might actually conserve energy. You know the troll down in accounting? Jump in with him and see how fast you can get clean.)



• Giving “old” sex toys to your friends. Now this is a sticky one (no pun intended). It seems like a really bad idea to ship all that rubber off to a landfill. But on the other hand, no one wants to use someone else’s sex toys. Oh, actually, someone does (check the classified ads, we’re not sure if they want just anyone’s used sex toys, or those belonging to particular people). Anyway, if this individual doesn’t want your particular sex toys, we have also heard that there is a Museum of Sex in New York City. (They actually charge admission; may we suggest a “donate your dildo for free admission” day.)



Okay, well, you get the idea. Reduce: choose sex over shopping any chance you get. Reuse: don’t give the wrong things to the wrong people. Recycle: why buy wallpaper when you can plaster your bathroom with our column?



What the fuck!