Consider the 4 Things That Actually Matter This Earth Day

Image Credit: NASA/CC BY

To a few too many self-proclaimed environmentalists, Earth Day is sort of like what Christmas is to non-churchgoing Christians -- a day to get involved, feel you're doing your part, and unintentionally leave it at that for the rest of the year (is that incendiary? If so, woops). Planting trees in your local park is like attending a Christmas Eve service. So instead of going out and doing that tree planting (which is still a good thing, of course) and feeling like you're 'going green', maybe your time would be better spent sitting down and considering the the things that could actually make a difference in the long run. There are four big ones that we should focus on, the Green Lantern says . . .Really want to 'go green' in honor of Earth Day? Slate's Green Lantern has some ideas:

when it comes to the environmental impacts of individual households, four areas dominate: transportation, diet, housing construction (i.e., the impacts of manufacturing, transporting, and assembling building materials), and energy-using products (which include appliances, lighting fixtures, and heating and cooling units). In industrialized countries, these categories collectively account for 70 percent to 80 percent of a household's environmental impacts.
And that means that the biggest ways you can make lasting, greener improvements--in some sense, the four things that actually matter in the long run, are:

  1. Cleaning up your ride--by driving less, or opting a more fuel efficient car

  2. Eating local, and cutting back on meat, dairy, and food products that have been shipped great distances.

  3. Living in an urban area, using green building materials if you're constructing, making energy efficient improvements to your home like insulation, etc

  4. Buying long-lasting, energy efficient appliances to conserve electricity.

And there you have it--them's the big ones. That's the lion's share of the household's environmental impact.

Also one more of my own -- if you can, pay a tad more to get your electricity from a clean source. Though not an option available to everyone yet, ditching coal probably does the most to lower your carbon footprint out of any of these . . .

Do those 4 things, and do them well, and you can still feel okay about turning down your non-practicing environmentalist friend's invitation to the trash pickup he planned for the same evening that the Office is on.

More on Earth Day
Green Bloggers Speak: Does Earth Day Matter?
Earth Day 2010 - Time for Visions, Visionaries and Volunteers ...

Tags: Conservation | Earth Day | Energy Efficiency