GD Meg & Hubby Experiencing a California Sunset
Why Should We Care? by Green Diva Meg
These posts explore a myriad of topics relating to green, sustainable and healthy living and offer simple and clear information from the fun and quirky point of view of the Green Divas. Each post provides practical, no nonsense information on What Can We Do to make a difference.
This post isn’t exactly a “Why Should We Care.” It’s more “Hints on How To.” I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but my husband and I have gotten into an annual habit of reviewing the year that is passing and imagining the year ahead. While we prefer to dwell on the winning moments of the past, we take the time to focus on areas that could use some improvement and strategize ways to manifest better versions of ourselves in the coming year. Always keeping in mind advice from some wise friends – progress, not perfection.
Here are a few ways we will be improving our green diva (and green dude) status in 2012:
1. Eat Well for Us AND the Earth
In keeping with our annual promise to eat healthier, we can make it greener by:
- Choosing regionally produced foods – less Food Miles = smaller carbon footprint and tends fresher food!
- Supporting local farmers – a great way to support our local economy;
- Buying organic foods – healthier for the soil, the plants, the farmers and ultimate the consumers.
Now is a great time to look for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership from local farms. To learn more about CSAs please listen to our Green Light: Short & Sassy vignette on CSAs (it’s only 1 minute and a half long!), and to find a CSA near you, go to LocalHarvest.org.
2. Consume Less; Re-Use More
We’ve been in a paring down and simplifying mode here for several years and I’m amazed how much ‘stuff’ we don’t need. So much of what we buy has it’s own environmental issues in terms of materials, manufacturing, traveling, etc., but I’ve become increasingly aware of the evils of excessive packaging – plastic, plastic everywhere! According to Susan Frankiel, who wrote Plastic: a Toxic Love Story, we consume over 600 billion pounds of plastic every year – remember plastic does NOT biodegrade!
My sister, Green Diva Lisa, is the queen of repurposing. She’s my guide on this one. She can reincarnate anything! Her goal is to keep stuff out of landfills and get the most out of everything. From ways to reuse annoying plastic and Styrofoam packaging to making mittens out of old sweaters, she’s got tons of ideas, most of which are born of creativity and common sense. Please visit our website and look for her many posts on various ways to repurpose things or listen to any of the Green Divas Radio Show podcasts from the last six months to hear her regular Take Two repurposing segment.
3. Less Water Please
Many scientists predict the next serious natural resource crisis will be water. It’s not like we can live without it, so whether we are experiencing drought conditions today or not, it is probably going to be important to become more conscious of how we slosh around the stuff like there is an endless supply, and start practicing a little simple conservation. Couldn’t hurt. Talk to someone from Texas, where they are facing this issue in a big way (pun intended), they’ll show you a few water-saving tricks. Here are a few we will try to do more often in 2012:
- Take shorter showers – you’d be surprised what you can do in 5 minutes!
- Don’t run the water while you brush your teeth
- While waiting for hot water in sink or shower, collect the cold water in a bucket and water plants with it
- Don’t run dishwasher or washing machine unless full
- Fill up your largest pot from dinner with clean, sudsy water and wash flatware and small items in it.
Our friends @ What You Can Do TV series have a few great 1-minute videos on water conservation that are worth a look.
By now, we all know that electricity drains our natural resources AND creates a lot of pollution, thus adding significantly to our carbon output. And whether you believe in global climate change or not, using less electricity makes good economic sense. Here are some simple ways to make a dent in the electric bill and improve your green diva or dude status:
- Turn off the lights when you aren’t using them! (seems obvious, but if you have teenagers . . . )
- Switch to more eco-friendly light bulbs (CFLs, LEDs, ESLs, hybrid light bulbs?)
- Turn the temperature on your water heater down a few degrees (and insulate it!)
- Turn off ‘vampire’ electrical chargers and appliances
We’ve learned a lot about electricity reduction and kept up on the fast-changing world of eco-friendly light bulbs from our friends @ EnergyCircle.
5. More Conscious Transportation
Of all the statistics out there on our personal carbon footprints, it seems that how we get around accounts for the lion’s share of our carbon output. Here are some things to consider to help lighten your carbon load in terms of transportation:
- Use more public transportation
- Walk or Ride your bike more
- Carpool or Ride-Share
- Be more mindful about planning your errands and minimize wasteful driving around in circles (this is a big challenge for me sometimes)
- If you aren’t able to buy a more fuel-efficient hybrid, electric or gas car, please maintain the one you drive for maximum mileage
- Telecommute (if possible) at least one day a week
- Use technology (skype, facetime, conference calls, etc.) to conduct business meetings whenever possible
- Buy carbon offsets when doing any serious traveling that might involve flying – TerraPass or CarbonFund.org
When flying, choose an airline that uses greener fuels and more sustainable practices AND might include offsets in their pricing – GreenAironline.com (a good article about the greening of the airline industry from EarthTalk).
6. It Starts at Home
It’s too easy to get caught up in the world of busy-ness. We are constantly challenged to slow down and be more present whatever we are doing, wherever we might be. I noticed how hard it is to have meaningful family time when we are all flying in different directions from sun up till way after sundown. I know we eat healthier when I make more meals from whole, fresh foods rather than popping prepared foods into the microwave or oven and it seems to slow down the dizzying pace a little. Here are a few suggestions that might help us conserve our personal energy, reduce stress, create more family bonding AND possibly make us better eco-citizens:
- Turn off the electronics – we implemented a non computer/TV/cell phone hour or two every night during the week. We might put on a little background music, but we all read or did homework or whatever. The TV generally didn’t go on till 9 and was only on for a couple of hours a day maximum.
- Cook together – especially with the kids. They may grumble initially (and you might too), but it helps support the importance of preparing healthy meals, maybe teaches a bit and hopefully creates some bonding time.
- Eat by candle light – of course, this may not be a good idea with small children, but it is amazing what a magical and peaceful environment a little candle light can bring to any evening meal.
- Share a walk – whether you have a dog or not, invite a family member to take a walk (doesn’t have to be a 10 mile hike. A short walk will do the trick). It’s an opportunity for some fresh air, maybe some nature and definitely good for talking.
- Family game night – again, sometimes hard to initiate, but once everyone is gathered and into it, it can be a source for serious fun family memories – and usually costs less carbon energy for the entertainment value.
There are sooooo many ideas in all these categories I could go on forever. I’m hoping these ideas inspire you to find simple, low-stress and fun ways to get a little greener in 2012.
The Green Divas Radio Show, podcasts, audio vignettes and blog posts feature fun and low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green, while maintaining some comfort and style. Green Diva Meg, co-host Green Diva Lisa and sidekick, Green Dude Scott offer tons of easily accessible information and resources to help make the journey to a more sustainable world easier and a little more fun and entertaining. The radio show broadcasts live every Saturday morning from WMTR 1250 AM in Northern, NJ/NY Metro area, streaming live on WMTRam.com, or catch up on the podcast.