Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest

22
July
2008

Small Actions: A Positive Approach

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I can’t help feeling guilty after being on vacation. It’s not so much about taking time off from work or drinking cocktails every night that bothers me. It is more about being faced with all the ways I was adding to my carbon footprint along the way. One biggie is six of us flying across the country, not to mention all the water we consumed in plastic water bottles. At least I can blame some of that on the airlines. Learning the hard way, I will never again attempt to carry a container of anything other than 3 ounces or less of liquid clearly displayed in a quart-sized ziplock bag. Water can only be consumed by using a water fountain past security or buying bottled water in the terminal, again after you’ve gone through security, so don’t even try to take your own water bottle unless you pack it.

In climates warmer than ours, air conditioning is considered a necessity. We didn’t have it growing up except for the window unit in my parent’s bedroom but then again, it wasn’t as consistently hot, not even that long ago. Finding a place to recycle all the beer and wine bottles (not mine, of course) took some effort and I shudder to think of all the loads of laundry the kids generated.

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Coming home to a huge stack of mail, mostly catalogs and magazines was the last straw. I’m still sorting through these, recycling most of them unread. My internal waste-meter has been off the charts. Luckily, while catching up on the New York Times I came across an article by Michelle Slatalla about a website called Carbonrally.

The idea behind Carbonrally is to offer “individuals and groups a fun, simple and social way to have a measurable impact on climate change”. They post a featured challenge every few weeks, most of which are small actions that you may already be doing. An example is using a clothesline for a few loads of laundry during the month. They tell you the result of your small action, in this case — “by line-drying 1 laundry load per week, you will reduce your CO2 emissions by 18.8 lbs after one month”. Then they post the impact of everyone who has accepted this challenge on their website — “805 people have reduced CO2 emissions by 6.42 tons by completing this challenge so far. That’s equal to turning off the electricity of 5 homes for about 1 month”. Hmmm…. this sounds sort of like one of Oprah’s weight loss challenges for those of us trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

This sounds like something I can do. The next step is to form a team — some family members are already on board. I’ll keep you posted……….

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4 Responses »

  1. I came across this blog the other day and you got some great info here – thanks.

  2. Great idea to team up! Would be fun to trade carbon emissions with another team.

    When a friend from Burma (Myanmar) lived with us a few years ago, he made the following observation as he, new to the U.S., watched us throw more than half our mail into the recycling bin every day: “Oh, I see! Much of your rubbish is delivered by your postal service.” I put the unwanted mail on my desk beside my computer, and whenever I have an uninspired minute in my writing I choose TWO (limiting the goal helps), call up the companies, and ask them to remove my name from their lists. It works! I also chat with the person about green practices, in cordial fashion, spreading the gospel.

    Thank you for your and Sally’s wonderful blog!

  3. Judy, There is nothing like the personal touch of calling companies directly. There is also a organization dedicated to making it easy to do it all in one place. http://www.catalogchoice.org/
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments and for visiting the blog.

  4. TSA doesn’t care at all about EMPTY bottles! Take your own and refill them at the fountain once you get inside!