Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hello Everyone,
Another Cope Environmental Center blog from guest blogger Shannon Herbert! She is getting started in being more environmentally responsible. What tips do you have to share with her and others? Starting with low-hanging fruit and working up to more challenging choices, actions, and decisions is a great way to dive in!

Adventures in Sustainability: The What
Now that I have made the commitment to go green, I have to face one really important fact: I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve made enough New Year’s resolutions to know that it’s very easy to decide to do something and quite difficult to actually do it. I remember one year I decided to take a vow of silence, but that was swiftly abandoned at 12:13 AM with the phrase, “Get me a coke.” Noting my poor track record with sticking to things, I have decided to take a more tactical approach to sustainability.

My first step is taking stock of all I know about environmentalism:
1. Reduce, reuse, and recycle (aka the bare minimum after an elementary school education)
2. Global warming (courtesy of Al Gore)
3. Umm…That’s about it…

After coming to terms with my complete and utter ignorance in regards to environmentalism, I have decided that the first step is educating myself. And, of course, I went to the first place every teenager goes in order to find information: Google.

While perusing Google with various environment-related search terms, I happened upon many sites giving advice on the “First Steps to Going Green.” Here are five of the most common suggestions and what I immediately thought of them.
1. Turn the lights off when not in the room, and unplug unused appliances.
As your average poor person, I have spent my entire childhood hearing about saving money on the electric bill. If saving money coincides with being eco-friendly, I’m all for it.
2. Use reusable shopping bags.
I know for a fact that everyone in my family—including me—has dozens of those plastic shopping bags around the house. Sure, they’re occasionally used as miniature trash bags or to transport leftovers to hungry relatives, but mostly they just take up space. If using my free “You’re a library champion” tote bag saves me clutter and helps the environment, I have no complaints.
3. For shorter trips, walk or bike instead of driving.
Again, as your average poor person, I have no money for a car, so I have no problem doing this one. Also, seeing as I’m fairly pitiful as all sports other than checkers (it’s a sport, I swear), walking is about the only exercise I get all day. So if I can go green while simultaneously maintaining the same pant size, I’m up for it.
4. Drink from the tap and not single-use water bottles.
Personally, I’ve always thought that bottled water tastes like old carrots, so I’ve been filling up a reusable water bottle since the 9th grade. Also, despite my dismal knowledge of the environment, I’m aware that the overwhelming majority of those bottles don’t get recycled. So this is another thing I can check on my eco-friendly/convenient list.
5. Shop at the local farmer’s market to save on fuel used to transport and store food.
I don’t shop very much, but when I do I usually go with my grandma who lives in a small rural town not too far from Richmond. She always goes to local farms and gets delicious things such as fresh berries, honey, and better looking vegetables than you could ever hope to see in a chain store. Seeing as I’m a lover of good food and my grandma’s cooking, I can support this tip 100%.

So, as it turns out, I have unintentionally been doing some green things for a long time now. I used to think that going green was synonymous with abandoning convenience, but I’m surprised to find that a lot the green alternatives are suited to my way of living. Of course, these are just some of the preliminary steps for sustainability, but I know that I’m making progress.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog Shannon. Learning about being environmentally responsible is like learning about anything else. It is a continuous process where you add on new knowledge every day. I found a little online calculator the other day that lets you compute your carbon footprint. I like this one because it is simple and only requires you to put a few inputs. Although there are a lot of other things that make up your carbon foot print, the ones that have the greatest impact are included in this calculator. Give it a try and see how you compare to other groups. It really is made for a home owner that drives a car so if you don’t fit in to that category it might not be as useful as some other one that are out there on the web. I thought it was interesting that the average American produced 3 times more CO2 than the average world inhabitant. I doubt if the link is clickable so you might need to cut and paste it into your browser.