To wrap up Project Spectrum in June, I interviewed an environmental expert (Neal) about some good ideas beyond those that are usual, at least for me*, to be more green. Here are his tips, given over breakfast this morning:
1. Fully vet your political candidates for their environmental concern and awareness. The League of Conservation Voters is a resource to see how current politicians are voting on environmental issues. On a local level, chat with candidates to learn about their views. We had a local state representative who rode her bike to do her door-to-door campaigning. That, combined with what she believed was important, garnered both of our votes.
2. Remember that economic conservation usually equals environmental conservation. Can you fix what you have (sew those buttons!)? Is there a used alternative? Craigslist and Freecycle are both excellent resources for used items, as are tag sales and thrift stores, of course. I sort of love the romance of used furniture!
3. Obey the law. If you can’t find a way out of driving to your job (public transportation needs a lot of improvement in most of the places I’ve lived, other than Westchester, New York!), make sure your tires are inflated properly and drive the speed limit. It may seem exciting or important to speed, but obeying the law also conserves precious fuel.
4. Keep your cats inside. I like cats. I’m no all-or-nothing dog lover. In fact, I was raised with cats (and often uttered the phrase “dogs drool, cats rule”) and had cats of my own for many years. Norman and Clyde, my childhood cats, were master hunters, bringing gifts of mice, voles, and birds to our door. As an adult cat owner, I kept my cats inside for their own safety, and I just recently learned that feral and outdoor pet cats kill millions of birds each year. Read more here.
5. Kill your lawn. That picture perfect lawn my grandfather had came at the price of pesticides, excessive watering, and endless mowing. We may not have a yard that makes most of our neighbors envious, but it does not require pesticides, watering, or very much mowing. Don’t give in to the phony ideal lawn; remember, the perfect suburban lawn is a myth created in the 1950s to sell pesticide. Learn what is native in your region. Most likely it will require far less water. And while this will require water, you might instead consider turning your yard into garden!
6. Cancel your gym membership. Save the gas it costs to drive to the gym and instead work out on your own. Hiking, kayaking, skiing, running, and biking are all great exercise. Maybe you can’t do all of those right from your door, but maybe you can! Hoola hoop, jump rope, push ups, crunches, stairs; all of these are easy to do at home. Even tackling chores in a more old-fashioned way can be great exercise. Hanging laundry, a common green tip, can get you moving, as can weeding, shoveling snow, raking leaves…whatever is possible for you will help! Turn off the machine (oh, how I hate the sound of leaf blowers on a crisp fall day) and do it yourself!
7. Embrace technology. It took some persuading, but Neal gave up his daily local newspaper subscription and now reads The New York Times online (it offers better coverage than our sad local paper, too). Read magazines online. Less paper to go into recycling (because you do, of course, recycle, right?).
8. Embrace the seasons. Learn to be a little warm or a little cold. As we put this list together, I recalled my childhood bedroom, in the renovated attic. There was no heat in the winter, other than the little tiny bit that rose to the top of the house (when I moved out my parents had the baseboard pipes flushed and learned there had been an air pocket all those years that prevented the heat from circulating) and no a/c until I was a teen. The heat is harder on me, but our house now is fairly shaded from all the trees that surround us, and if I close the house up (windows down, shades down) early in the day if I see that it is going to be a stinker, it rarely gets hot enough that I must have the a/c on. Chances are if you read my blog, you probably know a thing or two about fiber arts, which means I don’t have to sing the virtues of adding layers and wrist warmers and socks to keep warm!
9. Poke around your state’s Environmental Protection site for more ideas suited to your location. Unless you live in a state that doesn’t love the environment, in which case, poke around a different state’s site!
What do you do to be more green?
*My assumption of what is usual includes: combining errands for less driving; biking instead of driving when possible; using the library with gusto; carrying a Sigg bottle instead of using plastic (and, hey, get your tap water checked; it may be better than most bottled water!); bringing your own bags to the grocery store; hanging laundry; buying products that have less packaging; recycling paper; and composting.
**Neal, often an angry environmentalist, wanted me to title this post “Don’t be a F*ck”, and while I wouldn’t do that, I did promise to let his voice be heard!