By helping the Earth we are helping ourselves to have a better place to live. After all, who wants to go for a walk and have papers and other rubbish blowing all around them? Who wants to eat fish that’s contaminated with mercury? Who wants to breathe air coming from a coal-fired power plant? Who wants to choke on the smoke from an old diesel bus? Who wants to drink contaminated water? There are positive steps we can take to make things better. Some are easy, and some require a little effort. Here are a few. If you have more ideas, please send them to us and we’ll get them on the web site:
- Drive a smaller, more fuel-efficient car. Hybrids cost a little more, but they use considerably less fuel.
- Discourage people from driving their kids three blocks to school in Hummers. It doesn’t just have to be Hummers either. It can be any impractically large car for the task or it can be the task itself. Do those kids really need a three-block ride?
- Replace all or most of your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. They use about one fourth of the energy that incandescent bulbs use.
- Take a bus, ride a bike or walk to nearby destinations. Going by bike or walking doesn’t just save gas, it also helps your health.
- Make sure your car is running properly and that tires are properly inflated. This will keep smoke out of the air, tires out of landfills, and will increase your gas mileage.
- Plant a vegetable garden. It’s therapeutic, gives you exercise, gives you food, and adds to the world’s food supply. In a more basic sense, it gets you closer to the Earth. Besides, home grown food tastes much better than what is grown commercially.
- Stop war. There is nothing more reckless to the environment than the use of bombs and chemicals. Go to the White House web site and tell our politicians why we must stop the fighting.
- Join environmental organizations.
- Buy your electricity from renewable sources.
- Turn off lights and computers when they’re not in use.
- Turn off your TV and listen to the birds or the rainfall.
- Use rechargeable batteries
The following ideas come from my friend Carey Maynard-Moody of the Sierra Club:
- Don’t use your dryer. Hang your clothes on a wooden drying rack or outside on a clothes line.
- Turn down your hot water heater to the lowest possible setting. If you have to mix cold water to bring down the temperature of your hot water, you’re wasting fuel to heat it too high.
- If you have a timer on your dishwasher, set it to do the dishes after you go to bed. Rates are cheaper and less electricity is being made during those off-peak hours. Also, turn off all those extra power buttons on this appliance. That saves energy & still renders dishes hygienic and squeaky clean.
- Carpool to work and events. Insist that every organization that sponsors an event offers a call-in phone number of the ride share coordinator. Volunteer to be this person.
- In Kansas we can’t buy our energy from renewable sources, but we can support them.
- Encourage your city building codes to offer incentives for pervious surface parking lots and extra shade tree plantings. Pervious surfaces and plantings sequester carbon and filter water that otherwise runs off parking lots into storm water systems that shoot directly (un-treated) into our river.
- Use soak hoses, not sprinklers, and water before or after the sun has appeared. Plant more heat tolerant gardens to replace lawns. Let your lawns hibernate during the hot dry spells. It will come back. Besides, using the lawn mower is the equivalent of polluting by driving your car 1300 miles!
- Buy in bulk and always, always bring your own sacks and containers for refills. The Merc has a vast bulk foods section. Buy as little or as much as you need. Herbs and spices can be bought by the pinch, if that’s all you need. No need to buy a whole jar of an exotic spice you may never use again. Remember when shopping that plastic containers and packaging use petroleum and electricity for production and for recycling, or degrading in the landfill. This adds carbon to an already too hot planet.
- Locally produced, fresh and delicious milk can be bought in returnable glass bottles (at The Merc).
- Shop for produce, eggs and meats at your local farmers’ market. Flowers, too! Not only does this keep your food dollars around the area, but you are also getting fresher more nutritious food that doesn’t pollute by being shipped from far away places. Also, these vendors’ small family farms are good for the environment and many vendors grow their food and flowers without petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.
- Take your crock pot to the back porch. Yes. Prepare the recipe inside but do the cooking outside. Keep the heat, even of this small appliance, out of the house during the hot summer. Appliances generate heat that triggers your air conditioner. The old farm cook houses of summer were kept separate from the farm house for a reason.
More to come….