If you’re like me, all the news of increased climate change and danger to our earth’s atmosphere can overwhelm. When problems are quantified in gigatons, it is difficult to think that: a) human effort will be any match; and b) my little part will make the slightest difference.
But as any mover or shaker can tell you, it’s precisely the little offerings made by ordinary people, regularly and consistently, that add up to huge differences.
So let’s not get stymied by the enormity of the problem. Do something – anything! At the Gordon household, it’s been a process. Here are just a few of the ways we’ve been challenged to change our lifestyle to better care for the world:
- Recycling – Montgomery County residents have the two blue containers for recycling. But are we clear on what goes in each? It’s amazing how easy it is to confuse these two and mismatch the contents, rendering truckloads of materials un-recycled! If it’s not in the right container, no one’s going to switch it for you! See instructions here
- Laundry Sheets – my wife just started with these: thin sheets of treated material you stick in the wash to avoid buying large thick bottles of plastic. Plastic, by the way, is a byproduct of oil – yes, the same stuff that gets pumped out of the ground and used for gas, petroleum, etc. It is definitely NOT a renewable energy source.
- Cloth grocery bags & pouches – these are much more common now that plastic bags are 5 cents each but it does take a while to get into the habit of remembering to have these on hand in your car and remember to actually take them into the store with you. Now there are pouches you can use and wash to put produce in so you don’t have to even use the thin transparent bags for fruit and vegetables!
- No produce in styrofoam – I am avoiding buying meats and eggs in Styrofoam containers as much as possible. Styrofoam can NEVER return to its elements; it simply can’t biodegrade. A nuisance in this life and in all future eras!
- No red meat – this is harder since I’ve known beef and pork my whole life and have certainly enjoyed them in meals but if you are not disposed to becoming a vegetarian or vegan you still might want to consider the impact of ‘raising’ just a quarter-pound of beef: 14 ½ gallons of water, 13 ½ lbs of feed, 64.5 sq. feet of land, and four lbs. of carbon footprint.
- Wild growth on yard – I never had any idea how little a nice yard of healthy grass retains of run-off water and nutrients compared to a forest or even field of wildflowers. Many folks are allowing portions of their yard to grow wild and help with water retention. And creating some beautiful landscapes by doing so!
- Composting – we now separate out our food scraps and have an arrangement with Dayspring Retreat Center (11301 Neelsville Church Road) to take it to their compost pile to turn into some of the richest, healthiest soil for garden use. What we didn’t know is that when you only collect plant-based food scraps (not animal-based), you avoid all the horrific bugs, insects, and bad smells. It’s really not so bad.
- Hybrid car – becoming much more available and increasingly so. Lots more efficient than gas-only, emitting much less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- Solar Panels – this is trickier. We have done a lot of research and found that as a business investment, solar panels take a while to really turn a profit and there are significant considerations to installing them. We haven’t taken the plunge yet but haven’t ruled it out either. Especially because we plan to be in our home for a while.
- Earth-wise investments – yes, there are mutual funds set up specifically to invest only in companies that have the highest eco-friendly ratings. You may not get quite the dividends you were looking for otherwise but you can have the peace of mind that the manner in which you invest discourages poor treatment of the planet by the entities that have the biggest impact.
There is nothing comprehensive about this list. Just the things we either practice or have looked into. The goal is not to check the environment off your list but to continue to find new ways to make our world more livable for ourselves and our children.
What’s next on your list?