It's a 'Dirty' Brown Earth Day With Mike Rowe
Today's cuppa: spiced chai latte (it's hot outside, but it's cool enough for hot tea in here!)
In my personal Earth Day history, I have picked up trash in vacant lots and by the side of the road (I still have the yellow helmet and reflective vest to show for it!). In addition, a white pine seedling that was put in my hands as I exited an Earth Day fair got planted in my parents' side yard and is now over four feet tall, last I looked.
As an aside, of late, I'm doing well with plants in general, but in the past, I had my best luck with serendipitous trees and shrubs. These included the sprouted seed found in a grapefruit that became six feet tall and covered in spines, and the trimmed bit of branch from a privy hedge that threatened to take over my parents' yard (sacrificed years ago in the interest of paving a parking area. *sigh*)
So, when I knew Earth Day was rolling around again, I turned to a man who spends more time covered in Earth that almost anyone on TV that I know, "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe.
As anyone who's seen the two special "Brown Before Green" episodes of the Discovery Channel show knows, Rowe has his own view of eco-sustainability that is a lot less about highfalutin' notions of saving the planet and a whole lot more about getting your hands into some dirt, garbage, poo, etc., with the goal of living well and living more lightly on the Earth.
Rowe's new website, mikeroweWORKS.com, also has a page dedicated to his "Brown Before Green" philosophy.
I've always thought that "Dirty Jobs," with its emphasis on recycling icky crap of all sorts into better and more useful things -- such as the mad-genius dairy farmer who transforms cow dung into odorless plant pots called CowPots -- was the greenest show on TV.
Apparently Men's Health Magazine agrees. Seriously, click on the story. Here's a tiny excerpt featuring some of Rowe's eco-comments:
Spell it out for me.
Brown is the color of dirt, and dirt is the color of Earth. Under the blue ocean, the green forest, and yellow sun, there is always brown -- a combination of all the primary colors. Steadfast. Fundamental. Unglamorous. Our food grows in the brown. Our bodies return to the brown. Without brown, there is no growth. There is no green.
You've put some thought into this.
I'm not done. The people I meet on Dirty Jobs would never describe themselves as "green," yet they do more to clean up our environment in the course of making a living than any celebrity ever will. If you were looking to launch an environmental awareness campaign that real people can relate to, I'd say "Get Down with Brown," and hire a plumber to act as spokesman.
On what one Discovery Networks exec thinks of Rowe's "Brown Before Green" idea:
"At first they said, 'You know, Mike, we just spent $50 million retrofitting Discovery Home to be Planet Green, and we think it would be really cool if you just didn't pee all over that.'
"I was pretty direct with David (Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav), I said, 'Look, I get that this is, everybody's put their finger in the air to see which way the toxic rain is blowing, and this is the horse you're going to ride.
"'But, look, I make my living in the flyover states, and I work with a lot of people -- I meet a lot of people, every single day -- who would like the Earth to be as healthy as possible, but they've got a real problem with your role models. They've got a real problem with the whole pedantic tone of this finger-wagging, instructive sort of thing. What are you going to do? Are you going to ignore them? Then you're going to lose.'
"I know that version of 'Dirty Jobs' did very well. I pissed off a lot of people when I said that you've chosen the wrong color. Green, what, the color of money?
"Look, if you don't have a dog in the hunt, you can only appeal to the angels of your better nature for a while, and that's really where the other side blows it. That's where green truly blows it. They start their mission, and they start their position, from the idea that the Earth is more important somehow than the people on it."
Specifically, on the topic of being out and about in nature:
"The big lie, the biggest problem with the environment -- and I'm talking about everything from ANWR to the rainforest -- is it sucks. If you've ever been in it, it friggin' blows, man. It's miserable. It looks pretty on 'Planet Earth,' but I've been to a lot of those places.
"I went up the Amazon, deep into the interior. I met a bunch of English women that were categorizing new species. They'd go into a tent at night, hang up a lantern, open up the flaps, wait for it to fill with bugs, then zipper it shut in there and set about identifying these new creatures.
"And you know, the holiness with which they were doing it, I'll never forget it. Everything I read after the fact, in terms of how many species we lose -- we can't lose them fast enough. Are you kidding?
"It's really pretty awkward right now to have an entomologist explain how these species have gone extinct when we didn't know we have them. Now we've got one more brick on the load of guilty consciousness, and we can feel really bad.
"I have a great appreciation for the outdoors, but I've got to tell you, there's nothing like a nice hotel room, room service and a really cold gin and tonic."
BTW, coming up the week of May 3 is a feature story I did with Rowe about mikeroweWORKS.com, so watch this space. In the meantime, check out our first conversation on the topic.
In conclusion, I'd like to share some nuggets of eco-wisdom, paraphrased from my mom, the world's greatest conservationist:
"Shut the door, we're not heating (cooling) the outside!"
"Shut the water off!"
"Don't throw your trash on the ground. Were you raised in a barn?"
"Don't throw that out -- it's still good!"
"Put on a sweater. Are we made of money?"
"Why are the lights on if no one's in here?"