Posted by: David McKay | May 25, 2018

A Reflection on Garbage Bags and the Crap We Put in Them.

Garbage bags. Made of plastic.

Make less garbage, use less plastic.

Make less garbage. Make less waste.

Waste less by buying less.

It’s simple logic.

We may discover, upon reflection, that on a deeper level our minds will begin to consider this:

What is it, exactly, that we are throwing away? And what are we buying? And is it all really necessary?

It’s not a bad place to start if we want to make a difference.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Reduce. Refuse. Reexamine. Realize. Rethink.


Posted by: David McKay | March 28, 2016

Jeff Bridges Helps a Cause

One of my all-time favorite actors since I was a child! And here he is talking about something that I was passionate about not too long ago, and which I would like to feel passionate about again: Plastic Pollution!

Maybe this is just what I need to get back in the game?

The Plastic Pollution Coalition has been around as long as this blog has. They have sustained their passion to fighting plastic pollution on our planet over the years.

It’s time for me to get serious again… stay tuned for more!

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.

Posted by: David McKay | March 7, 2015

Are We Sinking or Disappearing?

Miami is changing. Heard about that ‘climate change’ thing? How it takes a while to come around? You know, like glacier slow kind of takes a while? Well, I got news for ya – glacier slow has accelerated. It’s not slow anymore. Glaciers are disappearing. You know what they do when they disappear? They melt.

Unless the people of Miami are there for a romantic notion that they can be like Venice, perhaps they may want to consider moving? Read about it here:

Miami is already sinking under rising sea levels

Old ice is vanishing, and the sea levels are rising. Things are changing. I see different bits of information and I simply connect the dots. Here’s another dot – a time-lapse that pulses like a heart, our heart, our world’s heart:

Old ice in Arctic vanishingly rare

And another dot – a city of 20 million people soon to be without water:

Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil’s Largest City

We are all connected. So, what do we do about it? How can we rise up against a tyranny of power and short-sighted greed that maintains a status quo in a rigged society?

It is becoming clear to me that water will be the determining factor, from not having enough of it, to having too much of it.

And another dot – a timely piece of news that we may have found another planet to live on:

NASA’s Kepler Discovers First Earth-Size Planet In The ‘Habitable Zone’ of Another Star

Is this our way out of living in denial? Fat chance. We’re not going anywhere soon unless we fix our problem:

So, are we sinking or disappearing?

Posted by: David McKay | March 4, 2015

Plastic Bottles! Water Shortages! Is it Time to Panic?!

20 million people are going to be out of water in 60 days?! What?! Read about it here:

Alarm Bells Toll For Human Civilization As World’s 12th Largest Mega-City To Run Out Of Water In Just 60 Days.

And here:

The New York Times from February 16, 2015:

Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil’s Largest City

São Paulo Water Crisis Linked to Growth, Pollution and Deforestation

I printed and posted this information in my classroom today from Ban The Bottle:


Why is bottled water a concern? Here are just a few reasons…

  • Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year1. And that’s not even including the oil used for transportation.
  • The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes2.
  • Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.3
  • Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year3.
  • The recommended eight glasses of water a day, at U.S. tap rates equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.
  • Antimony, which is found in PET plastic bottles, in small doses can cause dizziness and depression; in larger doses it can cause nausea, vomiting and death.8

Ditching bottled water keeps Mother Earth and your wallet green.

  • One water pitcher filter can effectively replace as much as 300 standard 16.9-ounce bottles. So you can get great-tasting water without so much waste. Talk about refreshing.
  • The average water pitcher filters 240 gallons of water a year for about 19 cents a day4. Put in perspective, to get the same amount of water from bottled water would require 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles a year5 – at an average cost of a dollar a bottle, that’s $4.98 a day6.
  • For about $10 each, you can purchase a 16-ounce or 32-ounce Nalgene bottle, saving you hundreds of dollars a year on bottled water.
  • Hydration at its best – carry the water you need and reduce your impact on the environment – one Nalgene bottle can last for decades, making it easy to stop buying single-serve bottled water to fulfill your everyday hydration needs.

Many people drink bottled water because they believe it to be of a higher quality, cleaner and better-tasting, but that’s not necessarily true.

  • In the United States, 24 percent of bottled water sold is either Pepsi’s Aquafina (13 percent of the market) or Coke’s Dasani (11 percent of the market). Both brands are bottled, purified municipal water3.
  • If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, try a filtered water pitcher.
  • Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, told The New York Times that “there is no reason to believe that bottled water is safer than tap water.”7
  • In the U.S., public water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires multiple daily tests for bacteria and makes results available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, only requires weekly testing and does not share its findings with the EPA or the public7.
  1. Pacific Institute. “Fact Sheet: Bottled Water and Energy – Getting to 17 Million Barrels.” December 2007.
  2. “Not Disposable Anymore.” P.O.V.’s Borders. 2004. PBS.
  3. Fishman, Charles. “Message in a Bottle.” Fast Company Magazine July 2007: 110.
  4. This cost assumes the purchase of a $25 pitcher (one filter included), plus 5 replacement filters at $9 each, for a total yearly cost of $70, or $0.19 cents a day.
  5. Each filter produces 40 gallons of water and the average owner uses 6 filters in a year, to produce 240 gallons, or 30,720 ounces, of fresh-filtered water. 30,720 ounces is equivalent to the water found in 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles.
  6. Purchasing 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles at the cost of $1 each costs $1,818. Over the course of a year, that’s $4.98 a day.
  7. Burros, Marian. “Fighting the Tide, a Few Restaurants Tilt to Tap Water.” The New York Times [New York City, NY] 30 May 2007: Section F, Page 1.
  8. Shotyk, William. “Toxic risk in bottled water?” Royal Society of Chemistry. September 2006.

I feel like the world is going down the drain! What are we going to do?!

Posted by: David McKay | August 31, 2014


Teaching is not an easy profession. There are things to consider. Many things. I will make you a list:

Writing lists.

Learning how to write a list.

Why you should write lists.


Chairs and desks.


Scheduling meetings.

Agreeing to meetings, even when all you really want to do is have some time to yourself in your classroom so you can make lists.

Setting the alarm clock.

Double-checking that you set the alarm clock.

Wondering if “double-checking” should have a dash in it, and then taking the time to double-check that.

How to get someone else, who is only 11, to double-check.




What’s for lunch?



Looking someone in the eye when you shake their hand.

Smiling. Definitely a lot of smiling.

Channeling energy.

Wondering how much to tell them, how much to show them, and hoping you get it right.

Living in the present, considering the past, and looking to the future.

Being calculatingly spontaneous.

Supplying the knowledge, so that it may be used.

Supplying it in such a way, that it must be used.










It’s important to know who you are, if you are going to try to help someone else learn who they are.

My last post from May, 2014:

And my first one from March, 2010:

One more thing to add to the list:

Details. The life of an eleven-year old child is made up of details. So is mine. And yours.

Maybe the question is: Are you thinking about the details?

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.


Posted by: David McKay | May 16, 2014

One From the Archives: For My Family

I am staying in Central New York for the week – where I grew up – in the land of the Onondaga Nation. I went to the Onondaga Nation a few days ago and spoke with an elder about my worries and the troubles I have had recently. We didn’t know each other, but there was within me a need to seek out someone who could understand what I was looking for. I told him that I needed a place to go, to sit, and to feel the world around me. He sent me up the road to an old quarry that he used for such a purpose. I am grateful to him for that moment I found there.

Looking back into the archive, I found this from December 4th, 2011:

I thought of the seventh generation, that saying from a Native American culture.  So, of course, I looked into the meaning of those words.  I went first to Wikipedia — “Seven generation sustainability“, which is not a place to cite a source, but it opens portals.  I skimmed “The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations” and that led me to look for Oren Lyons and his take on the seventh generation idea.  I found a transcript of a speech he gave to the United Nations in 1993.  In that speech he said,

Our leaders were instructed to be men of vision and to make every decision on behalf of the seventh generation to come; to have compassion and love for those generations yet unborn. We were instructed to give thanks for All That Sustains Us.

He continues on, speaking of many ways the Indigenous Peoples and this earth have been treated.  And he says this:

Even though you and I are in different boats, you in your boat and we in our canoe, we share the same River of Life. What befalls me, befalls you. And downstream, downstream in this River of Life, our children will pay for our selfishness, for our greed, and for our lack of vision.

500 years ago, you came to our pristine lands of great forests, rolling plains, crystal clear lakes and streams and rivers. And we have suffered in your quest for God, for Glory, for Gold. But, we have survived. Can we survive another 500 years of “sustainable development?” I don’t think so. Not in the definitions that put `sustainable’ in today. I don’t think so.

You can read the full text of his speech here: Haudenosaunee Faithkeeper, Chief Oren Lyons addressing delegates to the United Nations Organization.

Where do I go from here?  I have a child on the way, a family to care for.  What do I do about those short-sighted people that are trying to run our lives?  How can I get them to understand that the destruction of our natural world for the short-term benefits of their greed and avarice, for their selfishness and lack of maturity, is wrong?

I am working on becoming a teacher.  I am working on becoming a father.  Both make me understand that the true quality of life is life itself — my generation, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next…

We all walk this earth together. We need to move beyond where we are – as individuals, as races, as a species – in order to find purpose and reason.

Our planet is our home; she is our life. She is fragile and she needs our protection. We must accept the responsibilities that come with power.

Voltaire said, “With great power comes comes great responsibility.”

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.



Posted by: David McKay | May 14, 2014


I have been gone a long time from this blog – many adventures while living in a garage in a forest on an island in a sea…

Now I am back in a connected world and have been slowly noticing a lot that is going on, from the massive stream of humanity on the highways to the exhausting sound of lawn maintenance equipment in the neighborhood; from the stories of a friend who traveled the world seeing humanity crawling all over the planet, but who also stood on Easter Island seeing the night sky as it was meant to be seen.

Oil and gas. That’s all we are these days. It’s all about the oil and gas.

From the television that is always on I hear about early forest fires and the Santa Anna winds in California. The 350th month in a row of above average temperatures. The polar ice cap melting. I constantly look at the gas gauge in my car wondering how empty it will get before I fill it up again, and if I will be able to afford it.

I am intensely interested in the fight to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The Koch brothers are all over the news right now (the Daily Show is what I call news – one place of many that I am drawn to for information). The grocery stores are just going nuts with the plastic bags – I see them blowing in the wind and sticking on trees and fences everywhere there are trees and fences for them to get stuck on. The straws are being shoved down our throats. An old woman at the convenient store ahead of me in line yesterday bought three York peppermint patties and the cashier asked her if she wanted a bag and the lady said yes! C’mon!

It’s all petroleum based. Our entire way of life, our entire way of destruction is driven by petroleum. Life once existed without it. For thousands and thousands of years. Tens of thousands…

And for what? Are we all comfortable yet? Are we all taking it easy because plastic makes everything convenient and simple?

We are just making it worse. We are addicted – as a culture – to gas and oil and plastic. It is now a world culture. Very few people are not being affected by this problem. A lot of us struggle to get enough of it. Like these men in the Gaza Strip:

IPS: Desperate Gazans Turn Plastic Into Fuel

A man and his sons built a device to turn plastic into fuel on their roof, desperate for it because the Israeli blockade severely limits Gaza’s fuel supply. Yes! Turning plastic back into a petroleum that can then be used is brilliant. It is a crude device, and it is not the first one that I have heard about, but it is a creation that is, in my eyes, attempting to make life better. Right now, on that roof, it is making life better for those men and their families. What choice do they have? They are being controlled by another country, another class of people.

I see a parallelism between Israel/Palestine and the wealthy elite and the rest of us in this country. We are being controlled in almost every way now by petroleum based products. It is in the stores, our homes, our transportation. We are dependent upon it. Our way of life would collapse without it. We are tearing up the planet to find more. We are killing anything that gets in our way – everything that gets in our way.

There is another parallelism in this story:

“Ordinary fuel is not readily available due to high prices, and this makes us look for locally produced fuel that helps us to overcome the energy crisis and relieve us of an economic burden,” Shadi Abu Samra, 35, from Al-Shati refugee camp tells IPS.

The United States has turned to domestic sources to relieve us of an economic burden (or so they say). This is from the Huffington Post 05/14/14: North Dakota Oil Well Still Leaking Crude, Gas And Fracking Fluid Days After Spill. This is just what those men are doing on their rooftop, but on a massively larger scale.

Those men in Gaza are desperate and they see no other choice. Is that the same for Denver-based Emerald Oil, the company responsible for the spill in the article? Are the CEOs in that company desperate for their bonuses?

Again from the IPS article:

In harsh conditions where survival is a struggle, not many are thinking of the environment, or even of long-term damage to their health.

The CEOs of those oil and gas companies, the politicians in their pockets, the billionaires who take and take and who give so little in return are not struggling for survival. What are they so scared of, that they have to rule with such a tight fist? Why are they so disconnected that they cannot see how their actions are killing us?

Some walls need to be broken down, I think.

Thank you, IPS, for reporting news that is actually interesting.

And thank you for reading. Take care of yourselves. Try to make a difference for the better, whatever you are doing out there.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.




Posted by: David McKay | January 23, 2013

A Thought on Thoreau and Walking…

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.

So said Henry David Thoreau in The Atlantic, June 1862.

I found this quote and the subsequent link in a recent The Atlantic article about When Trees Die, People Die.

It’s the beginning of Thoreau’s article that struck a chord for me:

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.

I would be someone who would speak for Nature: “Absolute freedom and wildness… a part of Nature.” Civilization be damned – “the minister and the school committee.”

I would be someone who would speak for Humanity: “Absolute freedom and wildness… a part of Nature.” Civilization be damned – “the minister and the school committee.”

Can you slow down enough to find Thoreau’s pace of living? Is that even possible anymore?

Slow down.

No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession.

Does money buy leisure, freedom, and independence?

Does money buy time?

What can you do, now, for four hours a day, to match what Thoreau had in 1862? It may be that most of us no longer have the time to walk four hours a day, as Thoreau did in his time, but I do believe that we can create our own walks in life.

I walk with my family, my planet, and my home.

What is your definition of family?

My Family = My Planet = My Home.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.


Posted by: David McKay | January 7, 2013

Tar Sands In My Backyard?

I have been aware of the tar sands – one of the largest industrial projects on the face of the planet – for a few years now. What can I tell you about it? Let’s start with a picture:
tar sands

The boreal forests of Canada support an abundance of flora and fauna: 85 species of mammals, 130 species of fish, 32,000 species of insects. Let us not forget the 300 species of birds that nest there.

The picture above is what’s left of a boreal forest after it has been worked over by the only mammal still living there – the human.

Canada wants to send tar sands bitumen through a pipe line across the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Read about it here in Bitumen in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

I say, “Fuck that.”

Posted by: David McKay | November 6, 2012


I just moved. Again. Four times in four years. Just the way it is, I suppose.
But now, I live within walking distance of beer, pizza, used books, a stream, a river, the woods, a co-op, good friends, a library, coffee, breakfast, burgers made with local beef and cooked by a skilled grill-man, dirt roads, a mountain…

This evening I walked to the co-op. I needed some popcorn for election night. I brought a glass jar for the popcorn – organic corn. I brought a jar for the nutritional yeast, too. Ever tried that on popcorn? Do it.

A month-long sojourn with Liza and Johannah of staying with friends, living the gypsy life while our apartment was getting put together took its toll.

It’s good to be in one spot, to think again about baking bread, of making meals, of just slowing down.

Of making things simple.

Making things simple is not so simple. It requires effort to look effortless. But, man, does it feel good when things just fit together.

Randomly, I have started saying this to my 5th graders: “Dalai Lama.” That’s all. Makes me smile, it does, to say that. Simple.

So, bring a jar with you the next time you go shopping. And enjoy the popcorn. Dalai Lama.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.


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