footprint photo by ezioman @ flickr
Chapters 1-3: Bigfoot Meets Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
I am reading Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill's new book Ready, Set, Green and am following along chapter by chapter, seeing if there are is some easy greening I can do in my 4-person household in order to banish my green guilt. Part of Chapter 2, "Prep Work" entailed calculating my ecological footprint at www.ecofoot.org. According to my test, to support my so-called lifestyle 4.6 Earths would be needed. Although I might have been .4 of a planet under the U.S. average, my results were exasperating, and I hope untrue. I felt like the calculator itself was crude and not in-depth enough to really give the most accurate measure of my family's footprint.
No Such Thing As Jet-Based Eco-Travel
On the other hand, deep down I'm thinking that it is accurate enough to spot my two Achilles heels - jet travel and a meat-heavy diet. My rabid recycling and composting, lack of a car, big-time bike riding and backyard gardening do nothing to help wipe away the effects of my periodic need to travel by aircraft. When are they going to bring back the Zeppelins? Not soon enough for my eco-footprint, and I can't see a way to economically cross the ocean twice a year by jet, so read on to see what I am trying this week.Remembering To Reuse
In Ready, Set, Green, TreeHugger's own Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill provide chapter-end toolbox tips. There's "Save The Planet In 30 Minutes Or Less," and "So You Want To Do More" at the end of each chapter. Even my first attempt at the simple list for Chapter 3 (pg. 34) gives me a bit of consternation. I bought my reusable coffee mug and water bottle (both in stainless) check, check. But a new problem has emerged - remembering to stuff them into my backpack each morning!
I already think I'm a good recycler, but in order to encourage the rest of my family, I post little notes in the bathroom and office about putting any recyclable paper into the (reused) boxes I oh-so-thoughtfully provide. Another check. The biggest win this week is reducing our garbage pick up from one a week to once every 14 days. Yeah! On the down side, canceling a magazine or newspaper subscription is hard - I don't have any. But I do vow to forgo buying the Sunday paper, though reading it online is SO unsatisfying. Check.
Plastic packaging is my nemesis
By doing the careful observation of my shopping that the book suggests (pg. 34), I realize that each grocery trip generates about a dozen pieces of non-recyclable plastic bag-type trash. I can't seem to solve that or the issue of bagging some fruits and veggies. If I put them bare-naked into my cart, they wander all over the conveyor belt during check-out and distress the checkers. Still waiting for inspiration. Readers?
I make a stab at nearly every item on the "So You Want To Do More" list (pg. 34-35), including bringing a big bunch of old clothes and odds-and-ends to our local recycling center. And my re-use inspiration of the week: Instead of buying a new tablecloth, we recycled an old white sheet as tablecloth, dressing it up (and hiding stains) with a beautiful old linen runner. By the end of the weekend, I'm feeling virtuous, though far from guilt-free. Tune in next week for my efforts with: Chapter 4: "Eating Your Way Green: Food and Drink."