the world’s on fire, so let’s go shopping

artwork by Karene Horst

by Karene Horst, contributing editor – Labor Day weekend I worked of course, punching the clock at my 21st century version of the salt mines.  Ran a few loads of laundry.  Tried to balance my checkbook.
I still had oodles of time to fret over the growing sludge pile of my assorted worries and woes: global climate change, international political chaos, the pandemic of course, and whether or not to order an essential oil diffuser from or Bed Bath and Beyond.

Now for some people it’s a no-brainer.  As Amazon Prime members they get free shipping, and with multiple sellers and sources usually one can find the perfect product a couple bucks cheaper.  But I signed up for Bed Bath and Beyond’s buyer program Beyond Plus for the free shipping PLUS an automatic 20 percent discount.  Yes I could use the coupons they routinely mail me but they tricked me into thinking Beyond Plus was a good deal.  Now I’m not so sure.  Maybe I’ll call customer service and complain.

And I HATE using unless I have no choice.  When I do place an order I always use a friend’s Prime account so that bloated commercial bastion of conspicuous consumerism does not get a dime more out of me.  I just hate the company for no real reason.  Plus, the logo reminds me of a circumcised penis.  It could be a cockeyed smile or a whimsical grin, doesn’t matter. I still feel like I’m getting screwed. Boycott the patriarchy!

Wherever I make my final purchase, I’ll stick with online shopping.  No way will I combust precious fossil fuel to drive around in three-day weekend holiday traffic searching for deals while the American West and the Amazon rainforest burn. 

Between online searches for this and that, my cell phone alerts me to a text from a friend.  We can’t meet for our weekly hike because the government has closed the national forest near our homes due to local wildfires.

We text back and forth about alternatives. She suggests we meet for dinner at a local restaurant that allows socially-distanced outdoor dining.  We settle on a venue that serves great seafood.  Since we live on the mountain, we assume the fish is either frozen or flown in daily to our regional airport. 
While mulling over the menus, we discuss the environmental impact of our culinary options.

“Not salmon, no, that’s usually farm-raised unless they advertise it ‘wild-caught’ so I think maybe the halibut.  Or the ahi tuna, it’s sushi-grade.”

“Yeah, farm-raised God only knows what they’re feeding those poor creatures in their congested little ponds.   But wild-caught, that’s not sustainable.”

“Pacific Coast Halibut is OK.  Only the Atlantic Halibut is on the ‘avoid’ list from over-fishing.  But then you still have to worry about the mercury.”

“What about the Mahi Mahi?”

“Depends where it’s from and how it’s caught.”

“Hmm, doesn’t say.  Do you think the tri-tip is grass-fed?”

I reminisce about the good old days, when all I had to worry about my food choices centered on calculating how many laps I had to jog to burn off the calories.  

It used to be easy to do the right thing.  We could protect the planet by picking up our litter and throwing it in a garbage can.  The government started indoctrinating us on our new mission with educational programming, such as the TV commercial aired during episodes of The Brady Bunch and Adam-12 featuring that sad Indian and his lone tear standing next to a trashed highway.
Then we learned about recycling.  So simple.  Just separate the glass from the paper from the plastics.  The government took care of the rest.

Now I can’t decide on a dinner entree, and I feel like an idiot rinsing out my spent wine bottles and empty yogurt containers before setting them beside the road in their blue bin, knowing that the government is probably just tossing everything in the landfill.

I blame it on that damn Al Gore.  Not only did he invent the internet, which provides me access to depressing news worldwide 24-7 even without cable, but he made a movie that explained humanity’s devastating impact on the planet in such simple terms even a science-phobe like myself could understand. 
I used to believe I did my part by bicycling around town for my workouts instead of driving to the gym.  Now I am continually reminded on Facebook, yahoo!, Twitter, YouTube and by those incessant emails from liberal organizations I once contacted that Earth is DOOMED unless I “like” and “share” this, do or don’t do that and donate money NOW!  

Should I buy a 2020 hybrid sport utility vehicle to reduce emissions or chop down the Jeffrey Pines around my house so I can install solar panels on my roof?  Either might make me eligible for a tax credit …


It’s enough to make me crawl under the comforter on my couch and binge-watch Breaking Bad on Netflix once again.  

And it’s not just me; everyone is overwhelmed. Even the Japanese have thrown up their hands and declared, fuck it, we’re hunting whales again.
Should I join the climate deniers, just sit back and enjoy the show? Place an online order for a single-serve coffee machine so I can sample Hazelnut Pumpkin, Coffee Cake Caramel or Mint Jubilee for my morning cup of joe.  Buy cheap land in Utah and wait for the price to jack up when it becomes beachfront property.  Party like it’s 1999.

But I can’t give up hope.  Some people are actually doing something to save the planet.  Iceland commemorated the loss of a glacier with a bronze plaque and a ceremony attended by government dignitaries. 

The World Wildlife Fund sends donors animal-themed wrapping paper, stickers and even an annual calendar with amazing photographs of many magnificent creatures on the endangered species list, printed on recycled paper I bet. 

And then there’s climate activist and international sensation Greta Thunberg; she’s even the star of a new documentary on Hulu!

I want to support all these noble efforts. I just need to find the best website where I can shop around for them online. Of course with my luck, it’s probably

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About Karene Horst 14 Articles
As a fourth-grader, Karene Horst decided she wanted to be a writer when she grew up, and it's been downhill ever since. Her novel Moving Men is available via