Monday, July 14, 2008

♪ “It’s Not That Easy Being Green.” ♫

Remember Kermit’s song, made popular back in the 1970’s? At the beginning of the song our little frog friend was feeling pretty nondescript, ordinary and un-special about being green and blending in with so many ordinary things, like leaves, for instance.

Fast forward 35+ years and here we are still talking (why not singing?) about going green. Contrary to Kermit’s song title, it’s pretty easy for us to be green. It helps if we’re knowledgeable, imaginative and down right “intentional,” if we want in improve our greenness. If you were to sit down with pencil and paper, and number your sheet to from one to 12 do you think you could list at least a dozen things that you’re doing to “go green?”

Here’s my list . . . .

1. Wash dishes by hand, particularly if we can’t fill up an entire load in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is generally saved for “company only.”
2. Use solar and wind power to dry laundry on the line. Yes, even in muggy, humid central Illinois you can dry clothes outside in a reasonable amount of time. No fabric softener can match the natural fresh smell of line dried laundry! (Don’t talk to me about the birds.)
3. Wrap gifts in colorful Sunday paper comics, or incorporate a gift as the wrapping such as a kitchen towel, hand towel, etc.
4. Take the bus. The past six weeks I’ve made an effort to take the bus to work twice a week. Not only does it save on gas, but parking as well. (UI provides us with free bus passes.) It forces me to get more organized in terms of limiting errands to the other three days. Another benefit is I’m walking several blocks to and from my bus stops, thus getting in some exercise.
5. Donate to Goodwill and other places. One of my big life goals is to clean out my house and find homes for items we can no longer use.
6. Purchase items from Goodwill and other second hand stores. Yes, I’m a shopper at these stores, on occasion, too. For someone like me, who frequently is not into the “current styles or look,” I find it refreshing to find my retro taste still available at these stores, plus you can’t beat the price. Along these same lines I’m not above “dumpster diving,” either. It’s amazing what useful, valuable things get put out in the trash!
7. Use a push mower rather than a power mower. I have to admit I’ve only pushed this hand mower around our backyard once in the last year, but I did it once and will likely do it again. See #6 to see from where this mower came—hint “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
8. Open your windows and use fans rather than A/C. I seem to be able to tolerate the heat and humidity more at home or at work than I can in the car. And there are definitely times the A/C at home is humming.
9. Install florescent bulbs. Pretty simple.
10. Walk more. We’re fortunate to live within walking distance to many places we frequent – park, restaurants, bank, library, etc.
11. Conserve water. This one goes back to number 1—wash dishes by hand. Given our water heater is some distance from our kitchen sink, this past year we’ve been filling up gallon jugs of water while it’s heating up. This water is later used for watering plants, making coffee, doing laundry, etc.
12. Bring bags to grocery store. We’re getting a lot of mileage out of our paper bags with handles. We keep a supply in the trunk of the car. Our store even gives us a 3 cent credit for each bag we bring in.

I’m definitely not a “purest” when it comes to going green. Sometimes I’m in a hurry, hot, tired, forget, become extravagant, whatever, but I’m not too hard on myself. I figure that the times I do make an effort to conserve, re-use, recycle makes a difference.

Achieving a sustainable society is pretty much the mission of Worldwatch Institute. It delivers the insights and ideas that empower decision makers to create an environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs. Founded in 1974, Worldwatch focuses on the 21st century challenges of climate change, resource degradation, population growth, and poverty by developing and disseminating solid data and innovative strategies for achieving a sustainable society. The following website pages from Worldwatch Institute includes some of their suggestions of what we can all be doing to help sustain our world:

Additionally, there are numerous sites on line that calculate your carbon footprint. I think we can all strive to reduce our shoe size.

Back to Kermit and his song. While he starts out lamenting about being green and so ordinary, he progresses through his verses recognizing and then gaining new appreciation for his greenness. By the end of his song he’s happy – “It’s beautiful! And it’s what I want to be.” Me, too Kermit!!

This entry submitted by guest blogger, Cathy Colbert Inman

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