Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why It's Good to Go Green

I realize I am probably turning traffic away by posting two serious pieces in a row, but both are vital to the health and well-being of our children.

As we celebrate Earth Day, it is important to remember that "Going Green" may seem like the latest celebrity trend or the cause of the moment, but when we think about all that we invest in our children, a safe and protected planet should be atop the list.

Most of us would agree that raising a child in a house filled with second-hand smoke is not only undesirable, but, given all that we now know about its harmful affects, may even be considered child abuse. Many of us actually grew up in homes filled with smoke because no one knew the harm it posed to children. Had our parents or grandparents known, they probably would have felt the same way about it then as we do now.

Smoking in the home creates a harmful environment for your child and I cannot imagine anyone arguing that point. This is obvious.

Choosing to live an environmentally responsible life may not seem so obvious, however. Unlike second hand smoke, the importance of taking care of our natural resources may not feel as pressing, as necessary, as affecting.

It is. But, for decades many of us have envisioned environmentalism as a calling for the granola set. Tree hugging was never a compliment, nor was the term do-gooder, or any other moniker that denoted someone who devoted their time to protecting the environment. Stereotypes still equate environmentalists whose concern for natural resources meant maintaining natural hair growth and body odor. It was either embraced or deprecated and, still, not much was done to effectively convince people on a global level that we needed to start becoming more responsible for our actions.

Making one or two small changes will not only greatly contribute to the global initiative to preserve our natural resources, but also extend a legacy of global consciousness to our children.

Everyone benefits.

What can you do?

Easy actions:

1) Do not turn the light on unless you have to, and always remember to turn it off as soon as you are done.

2) Pay attention to water left running. Brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and even washing dishes probably requires about half the water you currently use. Try to make a conscious effort to use less.

3) Stop using plastic water bottles. Though many are recycled (at great cost and use of energy), it is much better to simply buy a Brita, filter your own water, and reuse a sports water bottle each day. Plus, you can get a water bottle that measures out your exact daily requirement, allowing you to keep better track of that as well.

4) Don't leave your computer, television, or radio on all day. "Turn it off" should be the mantra of your day.

5) Buy from your local farmer's market. You're not only supporting your local economy, you're also buying higher quality food that meets US standards (as oppose to foreign ones that are not as strict with pesticides and packaging). You are also helping to curtail the use of fuels required to transport outside produce.

6) Set your thermostat a degree lower/higher... you'll be surprised how quickly you get used to the setting, and save money and energy as well.

7) Take advantage of the library instead of the book store.

8) Curtail use of disposable plates and cutlery. More convenient, yes; more wasteful, YES.

9) Buy longer-lasting, low energy, compact fluorescent light bulbs.

10) Take advantage of Sam's, BJ's, and Costco....buying bulk reduces packaging.

More involved changes that will really make a difference:

1) Composting your food scraps. We live on a farm...we have no excuse not to use our food scraps to cut down on waste and fertilize our gi-normous garden. Just be sure your compost pile is well contained and sealed to prevent scavengers and a lovely odor for your neighbors to enjoy.

2) We are seriously looking into a windmill to produce our own energy. The state of New Jersey actually offers the most incentives for using solar and wind power energy: Offering to reimburse more than half the cost of the windmill, providing tax breaks, and allowing owners the opportunity to sell their unused energy back to the power companies. In an estimated six years, your windmill will be paid off and you'll be making your own energy.

3) Buy a hybrid vehicle.

*****What do I need to work on? Water bottles, using wipes likes they grow in my backyard, and leaving my computer on.
AND I PROMISE: the next post will be some horrible diaper joke, or funny video.


Barb McD said...

Hi Christine, First let me make a note that your blog is terrific, with interesting and fun stories. And thanks for choosing Amanda for your 1st Profile of a Parent (I’m her Mom).

I wanted to make a comment on plastic and microwave ovens, since I was one of the first “on my block” to get a Microwave oven (1976). It took up much space on the kitchen counter, made a very loud hum, and dried out the food. But it cooked a hot dog in a minute and made instant coffee in two. Did I really drink instant coffee? !

The directions said ‘do not use plastic’ so I bought a Pyrex container with a glass lid and used it for cooking fresh vegetables (I still use it). And of course, we each had a ceramic mug for the “instant coffee.” Even after Tupperware invented those microwave-proof items, I continued to use the Pyrex. I hope my girls learned from me.

I’m glad to see that we are now becoming aware of some of the perils that on the surface seem to make life easier, but really may not be good for us (or the earth).

Thanks again for all your stories.

Chris F said...

The windmill thing is something that Susan and I have also talked about from time to time - usually at night when we hear the wind whipping through our wide-open yard at 50 MPH... It looks like an interesting alternative, but the initial cost does seem a bit prohibitive. I do worry about the windmill itself being quite an eyesore, since they apparently need to be rather large to generate enough energy to be effective. And I also worry about wayward delusional Spaniards on horseback charging head-on into our investment... But that's probably a bit of an irrational fear, I guess.

Of course, the thought of having the power company paying us for our excess energy is certainly an attractive one. Please keep us posted if you continue down this road.