Thanks to Liz's example over at Los Angelista's Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness, I am patricipating in Blog Action Day. I'm supposed to write something about the environment.
Indeed! Quite timely, as I have set myself a number of chores to do while I am on medical leave, and two of those are to (a) change our diet and (b) research cars.
As far as Item the First: change our diet? How will that help the environment(you say with rapt attention)?
Since we began gardening this past spring and I read (slowly, slowly, while reading other books at the same time) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I have decided to move gradually to a more local-foods diet. What this means, ideally, is eating fruits and vegetables that come from local growers via the Farmer's Market, and if we eat meat/eggs, getting such things raised by people within a 100-mile radius. Sounds vaguely insane and intriguing, no? Aside from providing us with fresher food that tastes better since it was picked at peak maturity, this also reduces transport distances. The shorter the distance my tomatoes have to travel, the less fossil fuel consumed/CO2 emissions released. It's a small thing, and I'm not saying I'm never going to eat processed food again (see recent post re: Trader Joe's). I'm just saying it makes sense to support the farmers where I live* and Stick It To The Man by not buying food from Big Agribusiness. It also makes sense to me to transition to this new diet gradually. Oh, and to help the environment and my fellow Earthlings by not polluting the air, for the love of all that is decent.
Well, what else, you say? What are you talking about with the car (a.k.a. Item the Second)?
I have been researching "green" cars for quite some time now. The lease on my current sedan (which is fuel efficient but not a hybrid) will expire next summer, and since I am no longer freelancing, I no longer get the tax advantage of leasing the car, so I will be turning it in and purchasing a different vehicle. It takes me forever to decide which car I want (last time I researched for several months). There are so many factors -- safety, crash ratings, cargo space, wagon vs. crossover, fuel economy, passenger capacity, etc. I will probably bore you with them as the months roll on. But where I had been swayed a few months ago into believing that the environmental impact of a hybrid car was negligible compared to that of a standard car, now I'm swaying back in the other direction. I read a variety of articles on Edmunds (you can take a look at their green car guide here) and now I'm just trying to figure out what I can afford and why nobody makes a hybrid car with decent crash test ratings that has some style** and can carry 4-5 people***, a dog or two, and some cargo.
But that's a big decision, and not one I'm going to make today. Here are a couple of small things you can do, if you haven't looked into them already, to make an environmental difference:
- Bring your own bags when shopping. Once you get into the habit, it's automatic. You also end up having interesting conversations with cashiers and other shoppers when they ask, "Where'd you get those bags?" (One elderly woman was quite pissed to find that the bags I was using were not an option for her at that moment -- she thought the store had changed over to these much sturdier bags. ) For the record, I've gotten my lunch bags and shopping bags via reusablebags.com.
- If you are in the habit of drinking Starbucks or what-have-you, bring your own mug.
- And, as Liz/Los Angelista reminds us, one of the greatest wastes (and biggest scams, in my book) is the whole bottled water phenomenon. Switch from disposable to reusable water bottles, and refill from your tap, if you can. (Time to invest in a water filter.)
- Also, check out Slow Food USA for more info on eating local foods.
And be careful out there.
* I don't actually think there are farmers where I live, not right in the heart of Atwater Village. But yeah, they do farm things within 100 miles of here. Fifty, even.
** I mean, really. Is the hybrid car the Birkenstock of this decade? I want a hybrid because I feel it's the right thing to do, but it's kind of like eating brussels sprouts. You know that saying, "Don't have anything in your home that you do not either know to be useful or find to be beautiful?" (I'm paraphrasing.) If I'm plunking down money on a car, I want both.
*** Viva, parents, and cousins or friends. Not another little Blah Blah. I did just have surgery. Let's be serious.