I’m a redneck. A hillbilly. A Hoosier. I grew up on a Midwestern hog farm, near a town smaller than Smithton. I’ve never been out of the United States (unless you count a brief foray into Canada), and I am, to quote the country song, quite literally the queen of my very own double-wide trailer with polyester curtains (sorry, no redwood deck).
I got some bona fides.
But I’ve also lived in enough college towns and hung around in enough city scenes and urbane social circles to make some comparisons. And one important point of pride for the haut monde is how “green” they are. Don’t get me wrong, conservation and the environment are important. But for the cool people, eco-friendly living can also be a way to signal your superiority. Which got me to thinking: are the college crowd and the coastal elites really that good at being environmentally conscious? Or are they any greener than my granny?
There’s only one way to find out, and it’s through my completely arbitrary, made-up quiz. Take it yourself, or put it on the windshield of your favorite snooty hipster. When you’re done, use it to clean your bathroom mirror or start a campfire. Reduce, reuse, recycle!
Give yourself one point each if you own ...
• Reusable shopping bags? Oh, you mean the stash of plastic Walmart sacks next to the refrigerator. You don’t actually reuse them at Walmart, but you do use them for toting dirty boots, picking blackberries, transporting potluck food and containing dirty diapers.
• Eco-friendly holiday gift bags. You have a bag full of bags living in the back of your hall closet, for every occasion, in every style since 1992. There’s probably a bag with a snowman on it, kinda crinkled, gift tag is ripped off. That snowman has been passed back and forth at so many Christmas parties he’s part of your family now. He’s probably more popular than at least one of your uncles.
• Vintage wardrobe. You wear the same reliable pair of overalls until the seams give out. Or you have sweatpants older than some of your children. Or a collection of T-shirts/hats from feed stores and sports teams that no longer exist. (R.I.P. Houston Oilers)
• Recycled Tupperware: These fine collections are brought to you by Country Crock, Cool Whip, and Aldi. You love them because they’re cheap and plentiful. Your family hates them because they never know what the leftovers really are.
• Green drinkware. You have a matching set of the finest reclaimed plastic cups ... from Taco Bell.
Give yourself five points each if you ...
• Have a bag in the pantry full of large potato chip crumbs that you’ve rescued from the bottoms of several bags of chips. To soothe your suspicious consumers, you call it a party mix.
• Have saved a piece of used aluminum foil because “it still looks clean.” Give yourself one bonus point if you took the foil home from a restaurant.
• Regularly forget to mow your lawn. It might not make you popular with your neighbors, but it will make you popular with the bees. And they’re the endangered ones. The neighbors haven’t really liked you or your yard since you put that truck up on blocks, anyway.
• Grow your own produce. Eat your heart out, Whole Foods.
Give yourself 10 points if ...
• It’s been at least five years since you’ve been on an airplane. Everything you need to see is right here, home sweet home. Besides, do you know how much CO2 those things emit?
• You live in the woods. I hear tell that one acre of hardwood trees can offset the pollution of 18 people.
• Have a hunting and a fishing license. Preventing animal overpopulation and disease, monitoring wildlife, and taking home food that’s not part of the industrial supply chain? You’re practically a hippie!
Parents: Give yourself 10 extra points* for every time you’ve ever said one of these environmentally-friendly phrases:
• “Turn off those lights, I’m not made of money!”
• “Close the door, you’re letting all the cool air out!”
• “Who touched this thermostat?”
• Will you PLEASE turn the TV off?”
*Please limit yourself to 1,000 extra points. I know it’s hard.
0-10: High-Pollutin’ City Folk
You should be ashamed of yourself. Your kin should shun you.
10-30: Waste Not, Want Not
You’re doing your part for the Earth, but there’s still room to improve.
Great job. You might be a redneck, but you’re more eco-friendly than that guy with a Prius.
55+: Clean, Green, Hillbilly Machine
You’re greener ‘n’ a cow pasture. Grandma would be proud of your thrift. You’re basically the redneck Al Gore (but there’s a good chance your hair is better than his).