Can we pretend that it’s last Friday and I posted this on Blog Action Day? Actually, Ross’s post that day about the advantages of a “green” business park was both thoughtful and underacknowledged, so let’s revisit that one and consider this the one-week anniversary post. Maybe every Friday can be Eco-Friday… and green is the new black.
A recent article in the UK publication The Independent asks, “Have You Got Green Fatigue?“, and addresses the cynicism that can set in about huge global or systemic issues like climate change, and questions whether an individual’s lifestyle choices really have any impact. Last summer, the New York Times had an article about buying one’s way into eco-heaven, pointing out the conflict implicit in a consumption-based model of “going green”. (According to the NYT article, “Consuming is a significant part of the problem to begin with. Maybe the solution is instead of buying five pairs of organic cotton jeans, buy one pair of regular jeans instead.”)
Why is this particularly relevant to Locally Grown? you may ask. Well, I may be cynical on the outside, but deep down I’m a relentless optimist, and I found a nice silvery lining in the cloud: According to the article in The Independent, part of the solution to the problem of “green fatigue” may be found in local action and involvement:
Progress on a small and local scale – such as saving a beloved local shop, voting in a councillor who will push green issues, or increasing local recycling rates – and even a desire to keep up with the Joneses (“if everybody’s ditching the gas-guzzler, I’ll do it, too”) are far more effective motivators than media-inspired guilt and vague fears of an uncertain future. . . [H]istory has shown a thousand times that “regular” people are capable of extraordinary courage, dedication and ingenuity when asked to answer the call. It’s time we put out that call, rather than another marketing pitch.
So if each one of us makes changes based on the specific details that are most important to our lives and closest to our hearts, we can make significant, positive changes in our local community. My own pet issue is local food. (It’s tough, when one lives in Minnesota is an almost-vegetarian.) I’m not yet very knowledgeable or very consistent in my choices, but I’m getting better at both.
I read somewhere recently that switching out a 75-watt incandescent bulb and replacing it with a compact fluorescent equivalent (26 watt) will save about $7.15 and the bulb will pay for itself in four months (assuming energy costs of $0.10/kWh). Despite those great stats I confess that I haven’t switched more than a couple of bulbs to compact flourescent. But If anyone knows of a broad-spectrum CFL that can help people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, please let me know ASAP!
Here are some other small actions that can make a big difference:
- You’ve heard it before, but changing to energy-efficient light bulbs really can make a difference. Lighting uses 20 per cent of the world’s electricity, the equivalent of burning 600,000 tons of coal a day. Phasing out old bulbs would avoid the release of 700 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year.
- Shop local. If your food shopping amounts to £100 a week, that’s £5,200 a year that could be going into the pocket of a local butcher, grocer and baker, rather than the supermarket till. Imagine if 100 people in your area had the same idea.
- Is recycling really worth it? Yes. Recycling one glass jar saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours. Glass can be reused an infinite number of times. Think of all the jars recycled in your street in a year.
- Recycling a ton of paper saves 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water.
- Turning your thermostat down by two degrees can save 2,000 pounds of carbon every year. Just imagine if everyone in your family and everyone in your office did it.