Sunday, March 15, 2009

Take A Green Challenge

Recently I told my sister that cows are one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions because of their release of methane into the air. So, don’t eat beef, less cows, less methane, less greenhouse gas emissions. She didn’t believe me, thought I was making it up. Yesterday as I was driving around in the sprawl of Rockville, MD, doing my big box shopping (okay, even a green preservation architect needs an occasional fix at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond) and I was listening to a piece on NPR about that very topic – expanding the methane problems to sheep and goats as well. The reporter was reluctantly asking rhetorically how these pretty fluffy creatures could be doing more damage than Hummers and SUVs. (See the goats above at the National Zoo -are they really more damaging than an RV?!) When I got home I had a message on Facebook from an equally green friend challenging me to take the 2009 Green Challenge - From Green Day (St. Patricks Day) to Green Day (Earth Day), make ONE change in your lifestyle to live more sustainably. When I looked at the list wasn’t sure there was anything new on it I could do (or want to do) so here’s what I thought when I read it, and what I decided to do.

*Ride your bike to run errands. Get a basket. – This just isn’t happening. I will take the Metro, I will walk and I will ride my bike 30 miles for exercise but I’m not turning my expensive bikes into commuter bikes. And with the economy, buying another bike is not an option.

* Learn how to compost. – I would like to do this, not sure if you can in an apartment? So I will research this.

* Bring your own bags when you shop. – I do this, when I don’t forget. Very proud to say that I didn’t forget them yesterday and used my own bags for 8 hours of shopping.

* Recycle ALL plastic bags at the bin in the grocery store (most have them). – Haven’t done this yet, I keep plastic bags for cat litter. Not sure what else to do for the cats, living in a city, they can’t be roaming on their own.

* Eat regional food only. – I try my best here, but I have to say one of the issues with this whole “regional” thing is I am concerned that it will make us all very isolationist. (The "heritage apples" at Filoli in Woodside, CA are served local restaurants in Silicon Valley.)

* Stop using styrofoam. Refuse it when out and about. – I never use styrofoam personally. And don’t encourage it.

* Start a food garden. It's spring! – While it’s impractical in DC, I could certainly help John plant more in North Carolina.

* Plant 10 trees for each vehicle you own, even better if they also produce food! - This I can consider. I do pay for carbon offsets each month, and my “indulgence” goes for wind energy. (The trees at the tree-line on Mt. Rainier below help clean up excess greenhouse gas emissions.)

* Buy fresh veggies, grass-fed beef, free range eggs, hormone-free dairy products. – Since I don’t eat beef I think I’m well ahead of the game here.

* Put down the Round-Up. Pull weeds or spray clove oil on them. – No problem, I have no grass or garden, so no weeds either!

* Clean your house using only baking soda, lemon, vinegar, and water. – I have tried this and wasn’t happy with the results, but I do use only Method, Clorox Green Works and Seventh Generation products.

* Buy cloth napkins in different patterns (for different people) and reuse use them all week. – I use recycled paper napkins and question whether washing more cloth napkins each week is actually better than using recycled paper.

* Own less stuff - for every item you buy, recycle or give away something else. – I should definitely do this and think this will be my big attempt before Earth Day, maybe I could even sell some things on eBay!

* Unstick your windows. An open top sash can cool your house fast ...and keep it cool. – Already do this.

Can I get more points since my job includes making the world greener? Ok, I know it’s not about getting “points”, but it did make me think that I should take a survey of my life and make an honest list of the good green things I do and the not-so-green, so I can make a better attempt at helping save the world. Of course, things we think are green today, we discover 6 months later aren't as good as they could be. Which makes me think more and more lately that "going green" is more a state of mind than a state of reality.

No comments: