"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Monday, October 15, 2007


Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

If everyone lived like me, we would need 3.9 planets.


That's according to the "How Big Is Your Footprint?" quiz I answered recently on earthday.net in preparation for today, Blog Action Day, when thousands of bloggers across the world are posting about one very important issue: the environment.

The political activist in me, of course, jumped at the chance to participate in Blog Action Day. And I immediately considered regaling Home Stretch readers with some of my fondest memories from my one and only semi-recent environmental "crusade"...

Some Stuart bloggers may still remember my non-stop newspaper coverage of the Adair County Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement's (ICCI) successful -- and history-making -- campaign a few years back to keep a large, smelly, non-environmentally friendly hog confinement from being built in Stuart. Who knew that there was so much to know about the wrong way and the right way to complete and submit manure management plans?

It occurred to me, however, that it is always easy to point fingers at the large Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) folks, and other big corporate industries that are regularly contributing to the destruction of our environment yet ignore what we, as indiviuals, are doing in our daily lives to make environmental matters worse.

I mean, is it enough to recycle empty Gatorade bottles and turn off the water while I brush my teeth? Or is there more I can do to live a "green" life? Just how much "nature" does my lifestyle require?

So I took the "How Big Is Your Footprint" Quiz, which estimates how much productive land and water you and I need to support what we use and what we discard.

After answering 15 easy questions, here is what I learned:
*My ecological footprint, based on my quiz results, is 17 acres.
*The average ecological footprint in the United States is 24 acres per person.
*Worldwide, there exists 4.5 biologically productive acres per person.

Thus, like I said at the beginning of this post, if everyone lived like me, we would need 3.9 planets.


That's not good. Especially for a woman who once insisted on using cloth bags for hauling home groceries when I went Krogering (back in my Cinci days) and who encouraged Daniel to hug trees when he was little (thank you, Sesame Street).

So what in the world can we do do to live a greener, more environmentally-sound life?

According to the William J. Clinton Foundation:

Tip # 1 Get on Your Bike!
For every mile you ride your bike instead of driving a car, you avoid the production of about one pound of carbon dioxide. ( I have been riding my bike now and then since I am sans my own car.)

Tip # 2 Save Water with Powder Detergents
Switch from liquid detergents to powders. Laundry liquids are mostly water (approx. 80%). It costs energy and packaging to bring this water to the consumer. (That's not a hard switch to make...but what about Downey? I LOVE Downey...)

Tip # 3 Save a Tree, or Two or Three
Get tough on tissues. If every household in the U.S. replaced one box of 85 sheet virgin fiber facial tissues with 100% recycled ones, we could save: 87,700 trees, 226,500 cubic feet of landfill space ( equal to 330 full garbage trucks), 31 million gallons of water (Annual supply for 240 families of four), and avoid 5,300 pounds of pollution! Buy only recycled paper products for your office, bathroom and kitchen. (Again, not too tough to do.)

Tip # 4 Check Your Water Heater
Keep your water heater thermostat no higher than 120°F. Save 550 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $30 per year. Talk to your building or condo manager to upgrade the efficiency of the boiler in your building to magnify the savings. (Sounds like a job for John.)

Tip # 5 Change Your Light Bulbs
Replace 3 frequently used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. This will save approximately 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $60 per year. (Another "honey do" job for John.)

Tip #6 Muscle Mow Your Lawn
Mowing for an hour with a gasoline- powered lawn mower can produce as much air pollution as a 350-mile drive in a car. Consider this alternative which emits nothing other than clippings and burns calories too: push a lightweight reel mower. (Oh, c'mon Bill...you've got to be kidding...)

Tip #7 Change Your Thermostat
Conserve fuel by turning down the heat at night and while you are away from your home — or install a programmable thermostat. Setting the airconditioning thermostat in your building to 76 degrees in the summer will dramatically reduce your electricity bill and you'll do your bit to save energy and the environment. (I've already vowed that we will be wearing hats, coats, gloves to bed and wrapping our faces in towels so nose hairs don't freeze in order to avoid having to pay those blood-sucking municipal utility people any more money than I already have to this winter...)

Tip # 8 Reduce Garbage
Buy products with less packaging and recycle paper, plastic and glass. You can save around 1,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year by reducing, reusing and recycling. (Can-do. Tho' I must confess that lately I have been lazy and tossing the aforementioned empty Gatorade bottles in the trash...my bad.)

Tip # 9 Use Recycled Paper
According to the EPA, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, household waste increases by more than 25 percent due to holiday gift-giving. When wrapping gifts, remember to recycle and reuse. Also whenever possible use 100% post-consumer recycled paper when printing and save approximately 5 lbs. of carbon dioxide per ream of paper. (Oh, puh-leez...don't even talk about the holidays...)

Tip # 10 Fill Your Dishwasher
Run your dishwasher only with a full load. Save approximately 100 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $40 per year. Why not set it to eco-mode to save even more energy and water? (Dishwasher? What dishwasher? That old brown piece of decaying metal that sits in my kitchen? Hah. We don't use no stinkin' dishwasher... we do it the old fashioned way...Lemon Joy and a little elbow grease...)

Well, starting today I'll work harder to do what I can to put my best, greenest foot forward.

I'll do it for Daniel and the rest of the world's kids. For, as they say, the meek shall inherit the earth.

Or what's left of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great ideas -- we all just need reminders.