Earth Day was, as always, a mixed bag for me. It is a wonderful opportunity to engage more of us in recognition and active participation, but it also brings on angst for the really big issues where we seem powerless. Our country doesn’t have an energy policy; large corporations are still polluting; is there any kind of national proposal to limit our use of oil – no. The list is endless.
Last week I was reading yet another horrific story of an issue that seemed out of our (civilian/citizen) control, and then I thought about it for awhile. We could have tremendous influence, and even control over many issues that face our planet, but we have not exercised our power. We could change things dramatically by our behavior. In the U.S. our economy thrives or dives on the ability of the average (you and me) citizen to consume products and services. We have tremendous untapped power in this arena, that could be enabled by the choices we make. The statement that “we’re all in this together” has become a cliche by now, but it is very true!
I believe that we can no longer afford to think that what we do individually doesn’t matter. Everything is connected. Native peoples around the globe have lived with this principal forever, and in recent times it has been verified by scientists.
I recently read that if a 100 watt light bulb is on for half a day, every day, for a year, it can use enough electricity to burn 400 pounds of coal. It may seem a small thing for you, as an individual, to have only one lamp on in the evening, only in the room where you are spending your time. But, when we look at the affect of multiple actions compounded, it becomes obvious that every individual does make a difference. And, please think about replacing all your old incandescent bulbs with the newer alternatives:
MANY OF THESE ITEMS ARE JUST BAD HABITS, BUT WE CAN CHANGE:
Use dish towels instead of paper towels.
The Paperless Kitchen
Take reusable bags to the grocery store, or for any shopping.
Waste Less Bags
Try to do most of your laundry in cold water (obviously not possible every time)
Ninety percent of the energy consumed while running a load is used to heat the water. The average household opting for cold can eliminate as much as 350 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Unplug your appliances when not in use.
Eliminate “Standby” Electricity
So many of our habits are engrained, and change requires rethinking myriad ways in which we live our lives. Pay attention to your habits and see where you can make changes. Involve your grandchildren in these decisions.
The larger issues of how to affect change in our society have to do with our behavior as well. It seems almost impossible that we could wield power over large corporations simply by the choices we make, but it’s entirely possible. We are “consumers,” and can chose who we support, and where we deny that support. We need to stop buying just what is advertised to us, and become aware of companies operating with “green” policies.
Green Rankings – U.S. Companies
The above website provides a start, but these days you can go online for any company that you purchase products or services from, and see how they measure up. Today there are more choices than ever for green alternatives, and I believe that it is our responsibility to make ourselves aware, and purchase accordingly.
It seems that we need to rethink almost everything we do these days, and it’s no small task. We (Baby Boomers) were raised in the “convenience” age, where everything new was accepted and hailed as a breakthrough, but now we are beginning to realize that all is not well. Read the labels, research, investigate, and don’t settle until you know that your consumer action is a “green” one.