My wife and I do as much as we can to lower our use of plastic and decrease our carbon imprint. Granted we do not drive electric cars and we don’t have solar panels installed — if I hit Powerball we will be doing both.

I’m proud that Massachusetts has much of its electricity generated by solar, but, of course, we could do much more. We have seen, though, the effects of both climate change and pollution across the world and the urgency to address both issues is only increasing.

That’s why when my friend David Glantz mentioned a story he had read on Politico last month, I was very interested.

As I write this column Gov. Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu are preparing to fly to Rome to speak at a three-day international summit sponsored by Pope Francis and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

According to reporter Lisa Kashinsky, “Healey is set to discuss ‘Governing in the Age of Climate Change,’ according to a press release, while Wu will talk about ‘Governance, Health and Energy.’ Healey’s climate chief, Melissa Hoffer, is also scheduled to speak during the May 15-17 confab on climate resiliency and human health.”
Naturally at a time when state revenues are down and earmarked funds for various projects are being stalled by the governor, one wonders just how we can afford such a junket. Kashinsky wrote, “Healey’s office said it expects her portion of the trip to be covered by the Massachusetts Tourism Trust Fund, which funnels money to the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership. Wu’s office said the city will cover the mayor’s hotel and airfare.”

Apparently both officials are grateful and honored to be involved in such an event. I’m sure they are as it puts them on an international stage with their remarks being reported around the world. I get it.

Do Healey and Wu understand that jets actually put pollution in the atmosphere? And have they heard of Zoom?

There is no reason, in this day and age, for presenters of information to be in person in order to get their message across. Healey and Wu could have very well made an important point with a remote presentation.
It doesn’t matter, though, if a politician is a Democrat or a Republican, the lure of a trip to a foreign country on somebody’s else’s dime is very appealing. It’s incredibly old fashioned these days, but it’s clear the appeal is still there.

Since Healey is considered by some to be a progressive, I’m surprised she didn’t grasp the optics. This is old school 20th century political thought at its finest.

For a governor who doesn’t come the 90 miles from Boston to Western Massachusetts very often, it seems fairly ironic, but hey, we don’t have the appeal of the Eternal City, plus we don’t have a pope.

I hope that something truly helpful comes out of the conference but I’m not holding my breath.


Several years back, I wrote about the efforts my wife and I had undertaken to reduce plastic consumption, among other issues facing the planet. I firmly believe if everyone just stopped a moment and considered their options they could also do the small things that add up.

While we still use plastic food storage bags, we mostly use reusable, washable and durable silicon bags, which are available online as well as at retailers such as Traders Joe’s. They also save money over the long run.

Various disposable dusters and floor mops are fine except they create a fair amount of waste. I went to The Big Y and bought a microfiber mop, which is washable, and filled a spray bottle with a good floor cleaner. I spray the floor and mop it up. This way I lower the amount of trash I create.

I dust with a washable dusting wand I got at Grove.co, where you can find dozens of sensible products to reduce plastic and waste. Much of the various liquids Grove sells, such as dish detergent comes in metal bottles which have the highest chance of being recycled. I also get my facial tissues and paper towels there as both are made from bamboo, instead of wood pulp.

We use cloth napkins most of the time and we wash our clothes with a little packet of liquid detergent called Dropps, which is shipped to our house.

We use shampoo bars made by J.R. Liggett’s in New Hampshire to eliminate those plastic bottlers and I stopped my habit of using shower gel to return to bar soap.

We are always looking for ways to decrease waste and use of plastic all in the effort to make our small contribution to improving this planet.

G. Michael Dobbs has worked for Reminder Publishing for 23 years of his nearly 50-year-career in the Western Mass. media scene, and previously served as the executive editor. He has spent his time with the publisher covering local politics, interesting people and events. The opinions expressed within the article are that of the author’s and do not represent the opinions and beliefs of the paper.

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