Let's Compare Environmental Report Cards. Here's Mine
If you're anything like me, "Climate Despair" has you feeling a little less than enthusiastic about the future of our planet. To get some things off my chest, I penned a newspaper column detailing the struggle I'm having with the powers that be and their general foot-dragging on the drastic changes needed to reverse climage change.
And, of course, in the process of railing about apathetic politicians and evil corporations, I realize that my own feet have been dragging.
On the eve of a new decade -- one where environmental challenges will, ahem, trump all others -- I offer my own report card. These are just a few of the many, many ways people can do better.
Two things I've learned while trying to change my terrible wickedness.
1. Bad habits are easy -- easy to form, and easy to keep. Good habits take practice.
2. Encouragement helps. The more I talk to people about their own efforts to, say, remember the reusuable grocery bags in the trunk, the more I realize I'm not alone. We can, and should, do more to help each other with reminders, tips, friendly challenges.
So in the name of Mother Nature, spread my shame. And maybe, let people know where you are in your own reformation. What are you working on? What are your challenges? Shoot me an e-mail if you have a story to share at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EATING LESS MEAT
Cutting back on daily meat consumption is one of the profoundest ways we can impact the environment. So how hard is it to not eat meat two or three days a week?
NOTES: Super hard! My brain still ravenously tells me: "It's not dinner without meat!" I have tried, and will try again this year. You don't realize you're an addict until you try to give something up one day a week. Glad I don't do drugs.
USING CLOTH GROCERY BAGS
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, plastic grocery bags cause a host of environmental problems and sit in landfills for 500 years before breaking down into -- get this -- teeny tiny plastic grocery bags.
NOTES: After a mere two years, cloth bags finally clicked as a habit for me. Also, the benefits became clearer the more I used them. Since cloth bags hold more items than single-use bags, there are fewer trips to the truck to unload groceries, which means more time for hating avaricious billionaires.
SHORING UP HOME ENERGY WASTE
Many power companies offer incentives for weatherizing your home and reducing power consumption. Inspectors point out air leaks and inefficient appliances. (Here in Tennessee, the TVA has an E-score program.)
NOTES: Took advantage of a free promotion earlier this year. My neighborhood wildlife, the inspector assured me, didn't need as much free A.C. as my old house was providing. Amazing how much some caulk and weather stripping can shave off a monthly utility bill. I have yet to figure out how to program the dang thermostat, however.
GENERATING LESS TRASH FOR LANDFILLS
Americans generate about 4.4 pounds of non-recycled waste per person per day, reports the EPA, which inclues things like yard clippings. Many concerned citizens now bring their own tumblers to places like Starbucks, which offer discounts for the practice. Decline plastic straws. Mow over fallen leaves instead of bagging them. Dining out? Bring your own containers for leftovers.
NOTES: I sure do admire folks who have the foresight to be container-ready at all times, but I'm way behind the curve on this. Also, I'm not giving up printed newspapers until newspapers give up on me. On the flip side, I did buy a two-compartment trash can this year, which facilitates recycling and saves space in the kitchen.