Blog Action Day is meant to encourage people to think about the environment - obviously, this is a huge topic and not something that can be changed or turned around in a day, a month or even a year. Changing the outcome of our current projected pathway is difficult, and requires daily lifestyle changes by enough people in order to really begin to crack the surface of the problem. Sounds a bit idealistic, but if you want to be pessimistic, then natural resources are going to be severely reduced, if not gone, as we know them very soon.
In honor of Blog Action Day, I thought I would post some of the ways that our family has been trying to reduce our carbon footprint. Some of these are very easy to input into your daily schedule, but others are more difficult and require a few months to get used to - the changes will help the earth and as well your family (in terms of health and finances too!)
- Recycling - I know this sounds repetitive, but if you really take a look at all the things you throw away, I would bet that at least 50% of the items could be recycled (metal, paper, plastic, glass) in your neighborhood. If you are not sure what recycling services are available, you can contact your Town Hall. Most towns now have recycling pick-up for free (or included with your garbage pick-up fee). We can recycle glass, plastic and metal with our garbage and we just found a 2nd place that will take paper and cardboard for a very small fee ($3/bag).
- Buy recycled products - Increase the demand for these types of products. Ask for them at your local Staples, Kinko's, OfficeMax, etc. My office only prints their promotional materials on recycled paper. The quality is the same, and many times, it looks better/more stylish on the recycled paper!
- Reduce/Reuse - I'm guilty of this as well - using paper towels when I could use a dishtowel or leaving the water on too long, turning up the heat when its not really that cold, using the air conditioner when its not really that hot, etc. It is important to become aware of small things that could potentially make a difference if they were all added up! Do you really need all those plastic bags from the grocery store? Grab a reusuable bag instead - not only are they durable and reduce waste, but you get money back! Turn down your heat, get energy-star appliances & energy-saving light bulbs, make sure your windows close tight, unplug appliances (easier if you use a powercord) - all these things will reduce your energy usage and energy bills!
- Carpool/Walk/Double-duty trips/Gas-guzzlers - This can be difficult at times depending on how far you live from your job, whether you live rural or urban, etc., but its worth becoming conscious about. Is it really necessary to drive your SUV somewhere when you can walk or bike or ride with someone else? Questions like this will reduce the carbon emitted as well as save you gas money. If you can, buy a hybrid - you can still get a tax break on some of the 2007/2008 models.
- Buy Local! This one is huge. Take advantage of local farms, farm markets, CSAs, Co-ops, and family owned-local grocery stores. If you are a cook, plan your menus around seasonal fruits and vegetables - not only are you helping your local economy (mom & pop shops!) and likely getting fresher produce and dairy products, but you are also reducing the amount of trucks, planes & trains that need to criss-cross the country by road, air and ocean to bring out-of-season items. Supporting stores that support local farmers will also help preserve your community.
- Spread the word! Not that your Grandma Millie is going to be able to change her ways, but speak up when you get the chance. A few years ago, the grocery store employees looked at me like I was crazy when I brought my own bags - now they are totally aware, packing them up, giving me money back and asking where I bought the bags. It pays to speak up. My husband and I gave out reusable grocery bags to all of our wedding guests - we have had at least 25 people either ask us for more or tell us how they have incorporated them into their lifestyle. Sometimes, it only takes an explanation or example for someone to change. just a little :)
It is really easy to be discouraged due to the extreme size of the problem, but the solution has got to start somewhere - don't push it away to the next person. Here are some links to interesting products or organizations to help work towards a greener lifestyle:
- Freecycle - Reduce your garbage! Exchange items for free with members - Check it out!
- Carbon calculator - see where you stand!
- Join a CSA! Check out Local Harvest to see what is available in your neighborhood.
- Greening Info - TreeHugger provides a series of very informative (and sometimes amusing) articles on how to "green" your life. Check out this one on greening your car.
- Buy cool green bags - you can get the ones at the market with their logo on them, but you can get logo-less bags - check out the info in my previous post. Then again, you can really use any bag you like!
- City-by-City info - Check out the NYC Plan reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 - GreeNYC. Check out San Francisco's policies here.
- Also, some other bloggers have posted great items about how they green their lifestyle - check out Oh Happy Blog!, Style Me Pretty, and Toasts & Tables
Many other bloggers are taking part in Blog Action Day so check out the website for more information!