06 May 2021

Green Your Life (Radical and Non-Radical Versions)

We all need to make fundamental changes to the ways we live, shop, and vote. Many state and local governments are on board, as well as the new presidential administration, but we need to push politicians to do more. We can influence corporate behavior through our shopping habits. And there are a lot of things we can do as individuals that, if many people did, would make big differences.

The Short List
  1. Go vegan
  2. Don't fly
  3. Don't waste food, and don't buy any food with packaging
  4. Kill your car, and use feet, bike, and ground-based public transit instead
  5. Kill your lawn, and replace it with native shrubs and trees that support the ecosystem
  6. Don’t buy new things
  7. Install solar panels on your roof
  8. Refuse consumer culture
  9. Have fewer kids
  10. Get involved with your local environmental group
  11. Talk to friends and family members about what you're doing

I know, I know. That's a pretty extremist list. I'm not there yet, myself.

I still own a car. I have put 50,000 miles on it in the past five years. I moved to a suburban community where it's a lot harder to buy groceries without driving. But I'm working on it.

I have not figured out how to buy food without packaging. But I am making efforts toward less packaging -- dry beans instead of canned, vegetables that aren't wrapped in plastic, and come home in my own reusable bags, home made cashew yogurt and hummus instead of buying them in plastic tubs. I'm committed to buying my clothing used, and my last two electronics purchases were refurbished, but I'm still working on shoes. The list goes on.

The above list is aspirational. I'm working toward it. The ways our communities and infrastructures are organized makes some of these things very difficult.

So here's a list of smaller ideas. Pick something that will be relatively easy for you, so you can get started with success. Find a way to make it a habit. Then pick another. In five years, you'll have changed your life.

Along the way, talk to people about what you're doing, and why. Become an activist, even if it's on a small scale.

The Non-Radical Version
  1. Drive less
  2. Eat less lamb, beef, and cheese, and more plant protein
  3. Say no to fast fashion
  4. Take ground transportation instead of a short haul flight
  5. Move to a smaller home
  6. Downsize to a smaller car
  7. Go for a hybrid, or a plug-in electric car
  8. Take the train instead of driving, and definitely instead of flying
  9. Combine errands instead of making individual trips by car
  10. Call your elected representatives and tell them you support a carbon tax
  11. Postpone a purchase, and think about if you really need it
  12. Repair something instead of buying new
  13. Compost
  14. Recycle
  15. Eschew excess packaging
  16. Bar soap instead of liquid (see above)
  17. Turn off the tap
  18. And extra lights
  19. Add insulation
  20. Call your town administrator and advocate for laws favoring native, non-invasive plants
  21. In the winter: put on a sweater and turn down the heat
  22. Summer: drink ice water, use a fan instead of, or in addition to, air conditioning
  23. Haunt thrift shops: buy used instead of new (clothing, household items, and more)
  24. Vote for mass transit
  25. Be obsessive about food waste
  26. Make sure your car and your a/c units aren't leaking refrigerant
  27. Get off junk mail lists (both snail and email)
  28. Don't buy anything packed in styrofoam
  29. Get a reusable coffee cup
  30. Drink shade grown, bird friendly coffee (and tea and chocolate)
  31. And other organic foods -- they might be healthier for you, and they're definitely healthier for farms workers as well as for bugs, birds, and other critters all up and down the food chain
  32. Stop drinking bottled water
  33. While you're at it, give up soda -- it's not doing you or the environment any good
  34. When you need to replace an appliance, get an energy efficient one
  35. Get your community to invest in good sidewalks and bike lanes
  36. Vote for renewable energy
  37. Eat local food as much as possible
  38. Persuade your school, workplace, religious institution, and other places you spend time to adopt environment friendly policies
  39. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or washing dishes
  40. Take shorter showers
  41. FINALLY: Keep educating yourself about environmental issues, and keep finding ways to make change. Here's a list of resources.

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