Saturday, September 15, 2007

I heart Earth

I consider myself an environmentalist. Unfortunately, when some people hear that term they equate it with someone who chains herself to trees in old-growth forests to prevent cutting or who takes a spray paint can to Hummers. I have never taken part in such activities nor ever would. I'm a good girl who obeys the law. To me, being an environmentalist can involve the simplest of actions by each person that, when taken together with the small actions of thousands or millions of other people, could make a big difference in the health of our planet and ourselves. Here are some examples:

1. Walk or ride a bike to destinations when you can. Fellow Bandita Kirsten bikes to work, and I've walked to get my hair cut because my stylist lives in the next subdivision over. Not only are you preventing putting more carbon dioxide into the air we breathe, but you're also saving money (have you seen the prices at the gas pumps lately?) and improving your health. It's a win-win-win situation.

2. When considering buying a car, at least consider going for the smaller, more fuel-efficient model. I drive an older Nissan Sentra with a lot of miles, but it's still small and gets more than 30 miles to the gallon. And it passes my city's emission standards every year by a good bit. Another benefit -- I can fit into parking spaces others can't. Hee hee. (Though not as small of a space as if I had a Smart Car.) If you have children and need the extra space not provided by a small car, there are still options for better fuel economy. Even if you don't go with something like a hybrid SUV, do some comparison shopping regarding miles per gallon before plunking down your hard-earned dollars.

3. Recycle. Many cities have recycling pickup now. And even if you live in an area where you don't, there are likely drop-off points somewhere in or near your town. Don't make extra trips (gas, you know) to drop off recycling, but collect the items in boxes or tubs in your garage until you're going to be driving past the drop-off point anyway.

4. Remember how your mom always told you always turn off lights when you left a room? It really is a good idea! And while you're at it, replace your light bulbs with compact fluorescents. My husband and I have done this and hardly ever have to buy light bulbs. Plus, the compact fluorescents don't give off heat like regular incandescent bulbs.

5. Get a programmable thermostat for your house. They're more energy-efficient. We have two, and we can program them according to when we'll be at home (and need heat or air) and when we're away (when we don't need as much heat or air).

If you'd like to know about living green, one of the places to explore is Yahoo!' Green.

So, do you consider yourself an environmentalist? What things to you do to lessen your negative impact on Earth's resources?


Kirsten said...

This is a lovely post, Trish! I happen to have an easy commute into work on a bike path, so I do bike when I can, but I am a complete wuss and don't get out much when the weather's bad. My husband is a dedicated bike commuter--he does it in the pouring rain and driving wind. Not me. :-)

The thing I started doing recently is leaving a stack of paper grocery bags in the trunk of my car. I pull them out when I go shopping. Little thing, yes, but every little bit helps!

jo robertson said...

Great post, Trish! We all need to be reminded to care for our mother earth and leave a sound legacy for posterity.

I don't consider myself an environmentalist, but I DO try to recycle and I hate waste. Those of us who are children of the depressionists are really mindful of those issues, I think.

My middle daughter is a great example to me and she's teaching her daughter well. They always take burlap bags when they grocery shop and of course recycle newspapers, cans, glass, and plastics.

I'm reminded of a silly episode in a Superman movie, I think, where a character who works at a bank embezzles off a penny from every single account. No one missed the penny and he was millions richer. I like to think of that when my single efforts seem puny.

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Trish! I try to be "green" wherever I can, and I wish I could do more. We live in LA where it seems if you don't have a car, you're just weird. Of course, the really weird ones just *live* in their cars. Hmm. I digress. :-)

We only use energy saving lightbulbs now, and we recycle our trash at work and at home, but I know there's so much more we can do. Thanks for raising awareness and for giving me a few ideas, too!

Nancy said...

You make some great points, Trish! We walk where we can, recycle, and take our plastic grocery bags back to the store's recycling bin. We also try to donate usable household goods that we're eliminating, rather than throwing them away.

Jo, it was, indeed, a Superman movie (III). That's great way to think about small things adding up.

Keira Soleore said...

Love the post, Trish. My biggest mantra is: Turn off the water. We actively support organizations that are working in developing countries to get clean running water into their neighborhoods, one tap, one nhbd. We have 15 taps in our house alone.

So when washing dishes, turn off the water, soap up all the dishes, and rinse them all together. When brushing your teeth, turn off the water. Use water efficient shower heads, washers, and dishwashers. Fix leaking toilet immediately. Turn off the main water line when leaving the house on vacation.

The only place where I don't recommend using water efficient appliances is toilets. They don't clean as well and tend to get clogged easily.

Joan said...

I recycle and was thrilled when my local waste management company offered curbside.

I do try to use paper grocery bags too, not as altruistic as it might seem as it drives me NUTS for the bag guy to put maybe TWO things in ONE bag!!!!

Local stores here are just starting to offer reuseable burlap etc. bags.

And I plant trees. :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Great subject! I had to laugh with you, Joan. I HATE when the bagger at the grocery store puts one lone item in the plastic or paper bag. GRRRR. My dh calls me the recycling queen because I rinse the foil and recycle it, the cardboard, etc. We were recently on vacation and the town we visited didn't recycle. I was appalled and collected all the recyclables to take home. Three trash bags full for six people. Gracious! A true "picture" of how much we keep out of the landfill when we recycle. I also try to buy products packaged only plastics that can BE recycled. And buy recycled-product items like decking and stuff. A recent article said the plastic bags from the grocery are the most recyclable item around, but only about 3% of us actually recycle them. Go for it, gals, take those bags back to the store and recycle them! :> Thanks for the reminder!

jo robertson said...

We've been living in the same house for 25 years and the toilets are the old kind with lots of water in the bowl. We've replaced one of them, but not the other two.

What you can do is put a brick in the toilet tank to prevent so much water usage if you have one of the older models. It DOES, however, require a lot more toilet cleaning LOL.

I could never have done this with babies in the day when there were NO disposable diapters. You needed a lot of water to get those cloth diapers clean. I figure my hands were in the toilet for about 15 straight years. My daughters have no clue!

Kim Howe said...

Great post, Trish. In Canada, we are pretty serious about being environmentally friendly. One of my friends used to head up the Green Party and I learned a great deal about environmentalism from his leadership. I love walking wherever I can and I'm also an avid cyclist...burning calories and saving the environment. What's there to lose? I think we all need to take steps to protect the world for the next generations.

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

Nancy, I sometimes wish I lived in a "greener", more pedestrian-friendly city. It's actually life-threatening to try to ride a bike anywhere here because there are not typically sidewalks or bike paths in most of the suburb areas. And drivers get mad at cyclists, honk at them and tell them to get off the road. One place I've been that seemed very green and pedestrian-friendly was Madison, Wisconsin. Too bad it's so danged cold there in the winter. Cold and I are not the best of friends.

I too recycle my grocery bags -- either by taking them back to the recycle barrel at the store or by using them as trash bags in my smaller trash cans. And I donate to the Goodwill -- don't throw anything away that's usable.

Another way to save gas is to do all of your errands on one day, not one on one day, another on the next day, etc.

Keira, I know what you mean with those low-flow toilets. We have one in our house, was here when we bought the house. I mean, what's the point if you just have to flush them 2-3 times to get the job done, ya know? :)

Christine Wells said...

Great post, Trish. Where I live, we are in drought and very conscious of saving water. We also recycle, but I'm sure there are many other things we could be doing to help the environment. Thank you for sharing some ways we can make a difference.

Helen said...

I too re-cycle what ever I can we have changed all of the light globes to the energy efficient ones and have changed the shower heads in the house as well.We have been on water restrictions for a few years now because of drought and they will not change now because of climate change so we do our best and try not to waste energy or water, we have a small car that is very fuel efficient as well, and use recycle cloth bags when doing the shopping. Thanks for the post Trish always good to remind people to care about the enviroment but I think most people are really tying these days.
Have Fun

Suzanne Welsh said...

We have a Toyota Camry that gets nearly 30 miles to the gallon. It has over 100,000miles on it, and we know from owning one before that we will get nearly 300,000miles before we are forced to buy a new one!

As for recycling, our town has a recycling program where they pick up weekly for paper, bottle, glass, etc. And once every two weeks for yard debris, not to mention once a month for large items. Makes recycling much easier.

But I have yet to buy the new light bulbs. Perhaps we'll try that next time!

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

Wow, Suzanne, all that regular pickup of recyclables, brush and large items sounds great. I live about 2 miles past the line where there is curbside pickup, so I have to go to the convenience centers to drop off stuff. And our city only does brush 2-3 times a year, it seems. They do areas of the city by zones, but you never know within like a 6-week period for your zone when it'll get picked up. We had a spot on our lawn die because the brush sat there so long.

Caren Crane said...

Trish, I, too, live outside the "pick-up" zone for recycling and lawn debris pick-up. We take our recyclables across town to the (increasingly rare) public recycling bins.

Being a child of the 70s, I was pounded with recycle/reduce/reuse, turn off the lights, turn off the water, don't litter and conserve gas. I've tried to teach my children those lessons, as well.

My husband just bought a new car--a hybrid! We love it and the gas mileage is great. We are also talking to a man from about replacing our electric power with solar power.

I live in a commuter town that is not conducive to walking or taking public transportation, unfortunately. We will keep doing what we can and try to green up our part of the planet. Thanks for an awesome post, Trish!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, and we also have the retrofit fluorescent bulbs and programmable thermostats. Also, I take my own bags to the grocery store and refuse bags for single items. Man, do the cashiers give you weird looks when you say you don't want a bag! *g*