Why I’ll survive Hurricane Irene by being a Hippie

PLEASE NOTE: I live in Pennsylvania, so I’m light-heartedly talking about why I’m prepared for power outages and flash-flooding.  This page has gotten a lot of hits from people looking for serious help to prepare for the hurricane.  This post was more for fun and commentary on how pre-existing behaviors have prepared me for the comparatively minor storm effects – it is not intended as an actual tool to help you prepare for the hurricane.  Please consult weather.com for up-to-date hurricane information and your local county authorities for preparation and evacuation information.  Thanks!

As a citizen of the Mid-Atlantic states, I am currently spending my Friday night preparing for Hurricane Irene to rip-roar through tomorrow.

Whoops! Wrong pain-in-the-ass storm system! (Thanks to epiclolz.net for the photo)

Anyway, as I was making a list of what I would need to be prepared for, I realized that being a hippie has made this “historic” storm system kind of a non-event for me.   Why?  Well, last semester I took a very hands-on class about the psychology of fostering pro-environmental behavior.  In order to understand just how hard it is for someone else to change their behavior, we tried to change our own to an extreme degree.  Each week, we had a different aspect of our lives in which we attempted to reduce our environmental impact to zero (and then write about our triumphs, frustrations, and failures).   The categories we had to eliminate our impact for were: Trash, Consumption, Water, Transportation, Food, Electricity, and Paper.

This class required a lot of research for each week because of the hidden costs of different products (for example, I actually finally switched all the way over to vegetarian when I learned how much water I consume just by eating meat and dairy… 1000 gallons per week per person if you’re interested).  I learned a lot along the way and realized what are realistic sacrifices to ask someone to make, what changes are “green” and actually improved my life, which were cost-effective, etc. Most of the behavior changes saved me a ton of money, so they’ve stuck around.

The following lists some of the lessons I learned that will leave me sitting pretty when Irene rears her ugly face in PA:

  • No Impact: Electricity and a general desire to conserve has prepared me to endure humidity, heat, and cold, so I’ll be just fine when there’s no electricty/AC.
  • I’ve also learned the best places to put candles and oil lamps in my home to maximize natural lighting from the same week.
  • No Impact: Food taught me how to reuse and recook food that has already been prepared – originally to reduce waste, now in case flooding prevents a trip to the market.
  • My tiny organic garden has enough yield right now to feed me for 3-4 days by itself.
  • No Impact: Transportation leaves me comfortable with the idea of being stranded in my home for 48+ hours.
  • My Eco-Immersion Project (where you just sit, immersed in nature for an extended period of time) and 24 hours without electronics prepared me for a weekend without power and the internet.
  • Thanks to No Impact: Consumption, I know how to make nutritionally balanced cat food from just brown rice, evoo, and leftover veggies.
  • No Impact: Water and going no ‘poo helped me break my hair and skin’s oil cycles months ago, so I don’t need hot water to be hygenic.
It’s kind of ironic that Hippies will be the best prepared for the effects of Climate Change.  You have to wonder, when it’s all over, if a bunch of beat-nicks will be sitting around saying, “Man, we told you so, man!  You gotta, like, watch out for mother earth ‘n’ stuff, man!”

Changing what's expected of others starts with changing what you do.

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