A poor citizen of Planet Earth (Weekend Assignment #264)

Inspired by last week’s observation of Earth Day, Karen asks:
Weekend Assignment #264: A lot has changed since 1970, when the first Earth Day took place and had an unexpectedly large impact. In the current, uh, climate of global warming, eco-friendly marketing and recent attempts to gut environmental protections, how much of an effort do you make in your daily routine to help protect the environment?

Extra Credit: Do you observe Earth Day in any way? If so, how?

“How much of an effort do you make in your daily routine to help protect the environment?” I wish I could say something different, but in all honesty, I probably have to answer this one with “not nearly enough.”

I drive a small, fuel-efficient, low-emissions car that gets great gas mileage; I remember the “energy crisis” of the 1970’s – and maybe it’s never really ended, if we are where we are now – and the importance of not gas-guzzling has stuck with me ever since. I actually like small, fuel-efficient cars, and I may be lucky that my size means that I’m comfortable in them. But that car is nine years old now, and although I try to keep up with the maintenance, age does take its toll on everything, so it’s less efficient than it once was – and I drive that car eighty miles every weekday, round-trip, by myself, on some of the most congested highways in this country.

Our homeowners’ association has chosen not to provide recycling bins in addition to trash dumpsters, so we sort out recyclables. We would do it if it were convenient, but it’s not, so unless the HOA changes its policy (and most likely the fees along with it) we’re not making the extra effort to do it. We do use our trash compactor, though, so the garbage takes up a little less space. My office doesn’t have a recycling program either, but we are making the effort to reduce paper usage – yes, even in the accounting department! – by sharing more of our work in electronic formats.

I have purchased a few reusable shopping bags, but I am not good at remembering to take them to the store with me, so I come home with more plastic and paper ones. We have switched some of our lighting to CFL bulbs, and I’ve always tried to keep tabs on turning lights and faucets off and being attentive to the thermostat settings. My motivation for those things has always been more about saving money, but they do have the side benefit of helping to conserve resources too. I’m not sure if this saves much money, but I’ve tried some of the new environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and they seem to do a perfectly good job, so I don’t mind making that change.

I certainly recognize why it’s important to do more to protect and preserve our natural environment, but I’ve never done anything special to recognize Earth Day, and I know that doing small things every day is probably even more important. I’m pretty sure I can do more without complicating my routine all that much. I need to make more of an effort to be a good citizen of Planet Earth. What about you?

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  1. Can I cut and paste your answer, it would be very similar to mine. 🙂

    Eighty miles each day is crazy. I know I could never handle that. I know I should do more for the environment, but I’m lazy.

  2. April – I was thinking that I should do that. I have them hanging by the garage door, but if I don’t take them off the door when I go out, or if I decide to make an impulse stop at Trader Joe’s on the way home, the bags aren’t with me. I think they’re getting tossed into the trunk today!

    Mike – It used to be sixty miles a day, and then we moved last fall; the new place is closer to almost everything EXCEPT my work. If traffic doesn’t get too tied up, it’s not that awful; some days, I really like the decompression time between work and home.

    Clearly, I’m kind of lazy too; I’ll change if it’s easy/convenient, but I don’t think about it enough.

  3. Like Mike, you pretty much answered this question for me. 🙂 I do like April’s idea of keeping the reusable bags in the car. We do at least have the recycle garbage can and another for yard clippings. And at work they collect cans and bottles for our office morale committee.

  4. Wendy (Literary Feline) – I put the reusable bags in the trunk of my car this morning :-).

    There is one department at my office that’s collecting bottles and cans for recycling, but I re-use my water bottles and I don’t drink soda, so I don’t have much to add there. I wish we recycled paper, though – THAT would be useful.

  5. It doesn’t sound as though you do all that badly, really. I’m sure we could all do better!

    I kept buying more and more reusable grocery bags until I ended up with, I don’t know, maybe eight or ten of them. I carry them all out to the car whenever i think of it, and only bring each one in again when it’s full of groceries. That way I pretty much always have at least a few bags in the car.

    Now, if I could already remember to carry them into the grocery store….

  6. Karen – Yep, now that’s the tricky part. I did put the bags in the car, but last night after work I stopped at the store for a few things…and the bags stayed in the car. But at least it’s a start.