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We Are the Green Team

It has been said by those far wiser than I that we do not own this earth; we are merely passing through. I would go a little bit farther than that; not only are we just passing through but we have been given a responsibility. We are more than just guests; we are caretakers.

As a species, we have not been very good custodians so far. In our lust for profits, we have despoiled the natural resources of our planet to the point where we are close to depleting her in some places. We have watched over the destruction of habitats leading to the annihilation of entire species. We could create mountain ranges out of our refuse and waste.

I’ve always been a bit skeptical of the green movement; the need to be completely vegan, and carbon footprint-free seems a little presumptuous to say the least. That doesn’t mean, however that there isn’t something to their ideas. We do need to live more harmoniously with our environment, and we do need to find ways to be less destructive. Living carbon footprint-free is unlikely – all things leave one. And while I applaud the commitment of vegans to their principles, most of us are carnivores at heart and certainly in my case, protein is a necessary part of the diet.

Global warming is certainly a concern, but I don’t think we have caused it as much as accelerated it. Our planet has been through extreme climactic shifts in its past, we know that as fact. To think that we’re responsible for those shifts is ludicrous; that doesn’t mean we haven’t helped it along with our gas emissions and the damage we’ve done to the ozone layer. However, I do believe that global warming is an inevitable occurrence and that thinking we can stop it from happening is simply wishful thinking. Climactic changes are always going to happen; we need to adjust, and we will. However, before you think I’m going all Republican on you, I also agree with Al Gore and the tens of thousands of scientists who believe it is in our species’ best interests to reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gasses that may someday render our environment toxic.

What does that have to do with me, you may wonder. While you can’t reverse the effects of pollution, you can take steps in your own home to make a difference. Recycle, for one thing. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to drop newspaper and plastic and glass containers into bins for recycling; most cities have some sort of recycling programs that you can take part in. The more we recycle the less need we have to cut down trees or manufacture new containers. This helps cut down on pollution and increase oxygen in our atmosphere.

Exercise more. Why does that help the environment? Walking and bicycling places reduces the needs for cars. Use mass transit whenever you can. While I agree most mass transit is impractical and inconvenient, not all of it is. When you are able to take a bus or a train, do so. It saves gasoline and pollution.

Use less electricity. Turn off items like computers, lights and appliances when they aren’t in use. Use energy-efficient appliances whenever possible (look for the EnergyStar symbol if you aren’t sure if your appliance is energy-efficient). Turn your thermostat a degree or two higher in summer and cooler in winter to use less air conditioning and/or heating. If you live in an environment where it is practical, use solar or wind turbine power at home.

Be aware of your waste. Use some of your garbage as compost; it helps your plants grow better and takes up less room at the landfills. Dispose of toxic items like motor oil and laptop batteries properly. Use pesticides sparingly and as directed if you must use them.

Eat organic. It is a little more expensive, sure, but it is also much tastier and much better for you. One of the major environmental abusers is agri-business; we need to turn our backs on factory farming, preservatives, dyes and efforts to squeeze money out of the food chain and turn towards small farms, natural means of farming and organic fruits, vegetables and meats that don’t harm the environment as much.

Be an activist. This is your home, and you deserve to live in a nice one. Write your representative and demand that bills like H.RES.29 are enacted quickly and that attention is given to legislation that requires that alternate energy source research be a greater priority, that EPA emission standards be made more stringent, that fuel efficiency on automobiles be increased more quickly, and on a local level, green building standards be made standard, that public buildings use fluorescent light bulbs to save energy, and that bicycle parking and bike lanes be increased to encourage bicycle commuting.

Be informed. Discover websites like wecansolveit.org, which has much more information on what can be done at home and locally to reduce our environmental impact, and pass that knowledge along to your friends. Encourage your children to learn about living green, and encourage your friends to join you.

We have a responsibility to those who reside here after we’re gone to leave this planet in a livable state. Our ancestors have left us an environmental mess and while we can grouse and complain about it, it is in our best interests and the best interests of our descendents to do something about it now. While I believe that certain climactic changes are inevitable and cyclical, that doesn’t mean that we can’t clean our own house.


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