Green Notebook gets a partner
Hello, Delaware friends and neighbors! I’m so happy to be sharing this space with Tuesday, and am excited to get to know many of you through these columns as we share and care for our little corner of the planet.
As a mom of two very active and curious boys, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past eight years at our excellent Columbus Zoo. My kids and I love visiting and learning about the animals, and walking (or running) along the scenic paths is great exercise for all of us!
During our many tours, I’ve noticed that the zoo not only has wonderful information on conservation, but also posts some outstanding quotes (you’ll find in the coming weeks and months that I’m a very “quotey” person; I collect them like philatelists collect stamps).
One that always stands out to me reads, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” This comes to us courtesy of Edmund Burke, an Irish author, statesman, and philosopher who is remembered for supporting the American colonies in their dispute with King George. That dispute eventually led to the American Revolution.
I’m sure that Edmund Burke didn’t expect to end that dispute on his own, or to start a revolution that would lead to the birth of our nation. But small steps can lead to great things.
Too many people choose not to change because they think they can’t do everything. It’s easy to feel helpless in an age of climate change and rampant consumerism. My request of you is simply to do what you can. Every action, no matter how small it may seem to you, makes a difference. So this year, I hope you’ll choose to do just one extra, earth-friendly thing and feel great about it.
Green resolutions for 2013
Each year, as I shop for a new calendar, I start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. And each year, I make a list with the best of intentions. My years spent in a corporate setting demand that I craft goals that are measurable and a bit of a stretch, but the mom in me demands that they positively impact my family. In a good year, I’ll actually cross a couple off my list — and feel an overly inflated sense of pride that I actually did so.
Because don’t most of us fail miserably with our resolutions? We mean well, but it’s oh-so-hard to stay on track.
This year, I’m here to help you, too, enjoy that puffed-up sense of pride that accompanies a successfully fulfilled resolution. How? With a few resolutions that are easy (yes, you really can do these!), meaningful (good for you, good for the planet), and inexpensive (actually, most of these ideas will help you save money). So pick one or two of these ideas, and add them to your list of resolutions for 2013:
1. Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons of water a month, and 100 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. While you’re at it, consider buying a drying rack instead of always using your dryer; it will lengthen the lifespan of your clothing, and save you a bundle in electricity costs.
2. Drink water from the tap instead of buying single-use bottled water, which requires much more energy to produce, store and transport. It also helps keep bottles out of the landfill. As a bonus, purchase a BPA-free water bottle to take to the gym, office, and in the car and refill it as needed.
3. Don’t throw it away, give it away! If it’s in good condition, give household items to Good Will or the Free Store. Even items that need a little refurbishing may find a new home via Freecycle. Swap magazines with friends; cut up stained clothing and use it for household rags or art projects with the kids.
4. Avoid energy drain. Unplug your cell phone charger from the wall when it’s fully charged. Turn off energy strips and surge protectors when not in use (especially overnight). Even when electronics aren’t charging, their chargers still pull electricity.
5. Buy only what you’ll use. Studies estimate that each American household throws away 122 pounds of food every month (that’s over 96 billion pounds of edible food annually!). Buying less and tossing less is good for the Earth and your wallet.
6. Be water conscious. Teach your family to turn off the water while they’re brushing their teeth. And if you shorten your shower by a minute or two, you’ll save up to 150 gallons of water per month.
7. Get a reusable shopping bag, and use it. Did you know that the petroleum used to make just 14 plastic bags could drive a car one mile? Stash a couple bags in your car so you always have them, or buy a super-compact version to keep in your pocketbook or backpack.
8. Recycle. With curb-side pick-up, it’s just as easy as taking out the trash. Stash a small bin and a paper grocery bag under your kitchen sink; toss bottles and cans in the bin, newspapers, magazines, and cardboard in the bag, and empty them into your full-size bins through the week as needed. Don’t forget to recycle those toilet paper and paper towel rolls, too!
As Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” That’s great advice for all of us. Happy 2013!
Jayna McDaniel-Browning, a writer, artist, and mother of two, leads the “Go Green!” group for MOMS Club of Delaware. She enjoys sharing her passion for green living, good books and vegan food.