Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is the environment. So for this post, I’m going to reflect and celebrate on what I’m already doing to help, investigate areas that could be improved, and then commit to action. And in keeping with my style, there will be lots of bulleted lists!
I can’t say that I’m very passionate about saving the environment — I get more excited about organizing, teaching, kittens, and sea otters, for example — but I do have a sense of responsibility to do my part to conserve, reduce, recycle, and become more educated about the impact my choices have on the environment. Where does this sense of responsibility come from? For me, it’s a mixture:
- A faith-based idea of “stewardship” and taking care of gifts that I’ve been given, which includes this world along with my body, relationships, and material possessions.
- The desire for frugality inherited from my mother, which overlaps quite nicely with conservation — reusing things instead of throwing them away, saving money on utilities by using less water or electricity, etc.
- The environment of liberal hippie-ness in my university town where organic and local produce is “in.”
- The influence of one of my sisters who introduced me to the concept of composting, geothermal heating systems, and organic milk, and whose husband is a developer who makes it a point to use green materials and sustainable practices.
So far, I’ve “done the little that I can.” It’s not much, but it’s still something to celebrate.
- Steve and I choose to live in a town where we can’t yet afford our own home but can bike everywhere. The local Safeway is a two-minute bike ride or a ten-minute walk from our house. Using a combination of bike-friendly streets and bike paths, we can bike the five miles to our church in about 25 minutes. It’s easier to bike or walk around the small downtown area than it is to drive. The campus (U.C. Davis) is purposefully closed to cars and has its own bus system which also serves the rest of the city. For a while, Steve and I only had one car; he took the car to work and I biked everywhere else. My mom gave us her old car (which now, with a baby on the way, we’re especially thankful for) but I still usually choose to bike instead of drive.
- We have a food co-op that is chock full of organic goodness and locally-grown foods. The produce section indicates clearly on the price sign where the food came from. The co-op isn’t as conveniently close as Safeway, but it’s close to downtown and it’s on the way to the library so that I have an excuse to drop by for groceries. While I’m often seduced by the lower-priced items of the big chain grocery store, we’ve been starting to purchase more locally produced items which theoretically help the environment by reducing the resources spent on transporting goods around the world.
- We recycle paper and containers.
- I married someone who loves the outdoors and animals. My family never really went camping or spent much time outdoors other than in our suburban backyard; we were quite a family of bookworms. Steve has really stretched my boundaries to include camping, backpacking, swimming in mountain lakes, enjoying being by the ocean, hiking, and being on the lookout for cool wild animals like hawks, egrets, owls, and deer. I can’t say that hiking is one of my favorite things — it’s more something I suffer through to spend time with Steve — but maybe someday I’ll appreciate it. 🙂
There are LOTS of things that I could imagine doing to help the environment. Here is a smattering of realistic and achievable changes that I could make:
- I use a lot of ziploc bags for food storage and when making Steve’s lunches. We sometimes reuse ones that don’t require a lot of effort to clean them. However, this results in quite a bit of waste when I think of the Costco-sized boxes of sandwich and gallon bags that we’ve gone through. I could reuse more of the ziploc bags by washing them and encourage Steve to bring them home instead of throwing them away.
- Our town has basic garbage, paper, and container recycling and picks up yard waste piles but I haven’t really tried to investigate recycling other types of waste. This is just pure laziness on my part.
- My paper-based organization system results in the use of a lot of paper. I haven’t made it a point to specifically purchase recycled paper for the printer (although we recycle what comes out of it).
- We have a halogen light in the office that is pretty much on all day while I work. I am a bit picky with the light I work with, but perhaps I should just deal with it and replace it with a lamp that would work with compact flourescent lightbulbs. At the very least I could swap the lamp from our bedroom (which uses CFLs) with the halogen as we don’t have the light on in the bedroom as often.
- I could figure out how to stop junk mail and cancel the various catalogs that are coming for former residents.
Commit to Action
Rather than trying to do all of the above and burning out, I’m going to pick two one-time actions that I can do this week and one regular action that I can try to maintain.
- One-time: Swap the halogen light with the bedroom light.
- One-time: Call our city to request a free compost bin.
- Ongoing: Start washing and reusing ziploc bags.
I’ll make sure that these are part of my weekly review so that you can see how I’m doing!