As Originally Seen In Men’s Health Magazine
We gave Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe the choice of being interviewed during his cover photo shoot, or writing in the first person about his views on the environment. He passed on both opportunities, opting instead to interview himself from his over-priced hotel room in Santa Monica. Here are some excerpts from that exclusive, one on one conversation.
There’s a rumor going around that Dirty Jobs is the greenest show on television. Does that surprise you?
Not really. I’m the one spreading it.
Any truth to it?
Plenty. More than half of the 200 jobs we’ve profiled in the past 3 years benefit the environment in a direct way.
Why do you think people have been slow to notice?
Because Dirty Jobs has no environmental agenda. We’re not trying to save the planet or call attention to the latest crisis. We’re just profiling real people who work hard and get dirty in the course of putting bread on the table.
You’re talking about garbage haulers and sewage workers?
Yeah, but I’m also talking about entrepreneurs. Like the guys in Florida who scuba dive for golf balls in alligator-infested water hazards and resell them online. Or the dairy farmer in New England who markets biodegradable flowerpots made from cow poop. Or the pig rancher in Las Vegas who collects leftovers from casino buffets and feeds the slop to his swine. These people are greener than Al Gore in a cabbage patch.
Is that what you meant when you told Larry King “brown is the new green?”
Actually, what I said was Brown before Green. Like in the dictionary.
So your position on the issue is alphabetical?
That’s funny. Very few people who want to talk about the environment these days have a sense of humor.
Why do you think that is?
Because the “Greens” have been busy scaring the crap out of us. Haven’t you heard? “Your SUV is melting Greenland. Your hairspray put a hole in the ozone. Your kids are going to inherit a charcoal briquette.”
Well, the stakes are a little scary. Should we really be laughing about global warming?
No. But relying on fear and guilt to modify behavior usually leads to comedy. Like in the hardware store, where they tell me the plastic rake in aisle 4 is “environmentally friendly” because it doesn’t use wood. Then, further down the same aisle, they promote a steel rake with a wooden handle as “environmentally friendly” because it uses a “renewable resource.” What a crock. I still don’t know the right answer to “plastic or paper?” Does anybody?
You seem a little agitated.
I am. Look around this hotel room. Nice, right? Well there’s a sign on the back of my toilet that says, “It’s Your Planet—Keep It Green!” The sign is covered with little raindrops with sad faces drawn into them. What do you think they’re trying to tell me? You think they’re trying to save water by asking me to not flush my pee?
So you have a problem with saving water?
Not at all. Hell, I’d pee in the shower if it’d save me money. The thing is, who enjoys the savings? Do you think I’ll be seeing a discount when I check out? Some sort of urine rebate?
Uh . . . probably not.
Hotels are saving millions of dollars by guilting their customers into forgoing fresh towels and linens in the name of environmental responsibility. Those same hotels are happy to sell me a bottle of water for $5—a plastic bottle, no less! You have to laugh.
So you’re sympathetic to the cause, but critical of what exactly – the execution?
If we’re talking about the importance of cleaning up after ourselves and leaving a light footprint, I’m all for it. But really, I’m tired of being lectured by people who care more for the planet than the people on it. There’s a lot of “inconvenient truth” in the environmental movement, and a ton of manipulation. That leads to hypocrisy and opportunism. Mainly though, I’m just appalled by their choice of color. I mean seriously – green? What were they thinking?
What’s wrong with green?
Green is the color of money and mold. It’s the shade of envy. Never mind Mean Joe Greene. Or gangrene. Green stands for nothing good. Why base a movement geared to save the planet on a hideous hue?
Well, it’s the color of Spring, right? Symbolic of rebirth and renewal?
Big deal. Spring is only impressive because it follows winter. It sticks around for two months, brings rain and mosquitoes, then leaves abruptly. Spring year around would be a nightmare.
Your position then, is that the Green Movement would have been better off had it simply rallied behind a different color?
Any other color would have been preferable. Yellow would have been nice, since there is no life without the sun. Blue would have made sense too, since life began in the oceans. But brown is far and away the best.
Spell it out for me.
Brown is the color of dirt, and dirt is the color of Earth. Under the blue ocean, the green forest, and yellow sun, there is always brown – a combination of all the primary colors. Steadfast. Fundamental. Unglamorous. Our food grows in the brown. Our bodies return to the brown. Without brown, there is no growth. There is no green.
You’ve put some thought into this.
I’m not done. The people I meet on Dirty Jobs would never describe themselves as “green,” yet they do more to clean up our environment in the course of making a living than any celebrity ever will. If you were looking to launch an environmental awareness campaign that real people can relate to, I’d say “Get Down with Brown,” and hire a plumber to act as spokesman.
So you’re not impressed with the efforts of people like Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio?
I’m not going to question anyone’s agenda or motive. But I strongly suspect that millions of responsible Americans who see themselves as environmentally conscious have been turned off by the marketing of green, and might feel uneasy about falling in line behind movie stars and politicians. Celebrities might generate awareness, but flying around in private jets and being famous doesn’t help our environment. Picking up other people’s garbage does.
Aren’t you famous?
Please. I’m on the cover of a supplement. And I’m interviewing myself.
Good point. I want to thank you for your time. You fascinate me. May I use your bathroom, and buy a $5 water for the road?
The water’s my treat. Just turn off the lights on your way out. And please, feel free to flush.
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