Saturday, January 19, 2008

Green Really is the New Black

Going green basically means thinking in terms of lessening the waste that we create and creating less of an impact on our environment. There are many simple and manageable things that we can do everyday that add up to huge change. Saving electricity by unplugging any charger that is not in use is a great beginning. Changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs not only saves electricity but it also reduces the amount of waste because they do not need to be replaced as often as incandescent bulbs. Buying local... anything, saves petroleum and supports local business growth. Recycle your grocery bags or even better buy re-usable bags and put all of your old plastic bags in the re-cycling bins that are popping up in grocery stores and pharmacies. This saves a lot of plastic and it will also reduce the amount of plastic that is produced in the future. Of course turning off any lights or appliances that are not being used is so easy and yet so important. Turning off the faucet when you are not actually using the water. All of these things are great ways to begin to lessen our carbon footprint on this planet.

I have found that as I begin to do these small things my attitude towards waste is changing. Every time I am about to put something into the garbage I pause and ask myself if there is not perhaps another purpose for the item. Over the holidays I found so many ways to recycle that I'd never thought of before. I glued wrapping paper from presents received to cardboard from unusable gift boxes and then I cut them out, punched a hole in the top, put a piece of re-used ribbon through the hole and they became 100% recycled gift tags. Catalogs that I never wanted have become a wealth of images to collage into gift cards and boxes. Old wine bottles are turned into vases and water bottles for the dinner table. I have found that ideas just start popping into my head throughout the day. The amazing thing is that with most of my recycling and re-using I almost always end up saving time, money and gas. The idea of disposable anything should really cease to exist. Old t-shirts make great cleaning rags and cloth napkins add elegance to any meal while saving paper...

Alternative fuels and power sources are a piece of the puzzle but, contrary to popular belief, our petroleum burning cars are not the biggest culprit in global warming. Cows, sheep and other farm animals are contributing huge amounts of methane gas to the atmosphere through burps and flatulence. According to Sara Lewis of The Argus, cow's four chambered stomachs cause them to release enough methane in one day to fill 40 party balloons, from flatulence alone. Lewis goes on to report that one kilo of methane gas warms the earth 23 times as much as the same mass of carbon dioxide. Take a moment to consider the amount of wasted meat in grocery stores, in restaurants and in our own homes. So, in my opinion, one highly effective way to go green is to put a higher value on the meat that we eat. Buy local organic meat if you can, if not then purchase the highest quality meat and buy only what will be consumed. If we all begin to treat red meat as a luxury food item the number of methane emitting animals will lessen, the quality of the meat we buy will heighten and we will all be healthier to boot. Of course if you want to be really green then just stop eating meat altogether.

Our concept of recycling needs to grow far beyond bottles, cans, clothing and cell phones. Many people are wanting to build themselves brand new green homes but the reality is that when you take an old house and green it up you are recycling that house which is saving a huge amount of waste and energy. Driving a used car that runs on bio-diesel is a whole lot more sustainable than buying a brand new hybrid. We just simply need to let go of the idea that everything we own must be brand new. If every person on the planet bought a new car every year we would be living in a parking lot in no time at all. Perhaps it would help if we changed our perception of what it looks like to be successful. That should be really easy since green really is the new black, it's terribly cool to be green.

The long and short of it is, in my opinion, the best way to go green is the way that works best for each individual. Trying to do it all at once will likely result in overwhelm which generally leads to giving up. So start with the changes that seem manageable to you and grow from there. If you have the desire to change and you take the first steps, you will be amazed at the ideas and inspiration that will come to you. And last but certainly not least, share your ideas and your enthusiasm. Write, blog and talk about what you are doing. Be the example, the inspiration for others. "Be the change that you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi


Anitra Freeman said...

Write On! (and thumbs up on StumbleUpon)

Jen Kerlin said...

Thanks Anitra!