Index Card Cure™: Choosing green on Earth Day

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Today is the 44th anniversary of Earth Day. It’s not a commercial holiday, but that doesn’t mean it should pass without mention. We all want the same thing—a healthy planet. We are depleting natural resources faster than they can be restored and degrading many parts of the environment to maintain our current way of life. Many people are unaware of how our daily choices affect the environment. We tend to take our connection to the planet for granted. It’s not something we think about despite colder winters; hotter summers and other instances of weather volatility, like drought, hurricanes, ice storms and floods.  Are our actions contributing to these changes?

We tend to ignore the part we may play in the environmental degradation.  No snowflake in an avalanche feels responsible. Is that us? Are we oblivious to the effects of our choices that may be spiraling out of control?

Ernest Callenbach developed a model called the green triangle. The three points of the triangle are: Money, Environment, and Health.  When you do something that benefits one of the points on the triangle, it is generally beneficial for the other areas as well.  For example, riding a bike costs less than operating a car; the exercise is a healthy choice and biking creates less pollution and congestion. You can use the model to think about other examples, like what we eat and what we buy.

There’s a book, The Number, that discusses the amount of money and resources people will need to enjoy the life they desire. That Number refers to our personal net worth, but what about our common wealth? There is an assumption that the earth will have sufficient clean air, pure water, and fertile soil, when in fact, it may be impoverished. Today is a day for seven generation thinking and remembering that we are stewards for a world that we will pass on to others. What is your impact on the world? What’s your number?

Eat lower on the food chain: Eating low on the food chain means a more plant-based diet, which is better from the resource standpoint (it takes a quantity of plants and water to create a pound of meat) and for health reasons also (less fat and toxins).

Consider the true cost of driving: Most people only think about their personal outlay for driving: how much they pay to buy and maintain a car, insurance, registration, parking and gas. There are also indirect costs: road construction and maintenance and the impact of traffic congestion, pollution (air and water), and health care costs from accidents and sedentary lifestyle.

Reduce, reuse, recycle: Reduce waste and conserve resources from extraction and the manufacturing process. Composting food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and makes good fertilizer too.

Use water efficiently: Pursue simple water-saving actions such as not letting the water run while brushing teeth or shaving. Run your dishwasher only with a full load. Repair leaks. When you need to replace fixtures, look for the WaterSense label

Green your yard: Composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills. Choose native landscaping so less irrigation is needed.

Spread the word: Be a green evangelist. Tell family and friends that energy efficiency is good for them and for the environment.

 ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’ Dr. Seuss


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