Women are wonderfully practical and astute at solving problems. One of the problems facing our world is global warming and the decline of our environment. What habit do you as an individual need to change in order to tread more lightly on the Earth and what’s standing in your way? How can you take on a small piece of that challenge this week in anticipation of Earth Day?
Amy: Women across the ages have figured out how to “make something out of nothing”. It is a part of the American journey, at least for poor and middle class families. We women who now find ourselves in a land of plenty have to turn this old adage on its head and choose to “do less with more”. We must be aware of our carbon footprint. We must choose to live closer to work, live in smaller homes with lower energy costs, serve less and smaller portions of meat at meals, only wash full loads of clothes, and teach this way of living to future generations. As the people most often managing our family lives, women are drivers of environmental sustainability. Very few of us have the power to change the country’s or even one factory’s standards of emissions, but we can drastically cut down our household’s impact on the environment. If this becomes contagious in neighborhoods, what a drastic impact we could make.
Rosie: I measured my carbon footprint recently (Want to know what yours?), and was mortified by how large it was— if I continue with my current behaviors, my carbon footprint (the amount of carbon dioxide- a greenhouse gas- my actions release into the world) would be 12 tons. The average American puts out 20.4 tons per person, and the worldwide average is 4 tons. Big difference, huh? Guess everything is bigger in America. But here’s the thing, environmental experts believe that the worldwide average (including us big carbon-foot printed Americans) needs to be 2 tons in order to sufficiently combat climate change. So my big goal this year is to reduce my carbon footprint.
Janine: I never thought the day would come when in my lifetime I’d really, seriously have to think about ‘conserving’ water, recycling cans, using energy efficient light bulbs all to save the EARTH!!! It used to seem so abstract, but it’s finally here. I now must re-train myself to take the necessary steps to conserve. I now officially go green!!!
Donna: I have been on a real path personally to do the things that I can to be good to the environment. My husband and I made some decisions against certain types of cars. We recycle everything we can. My biggest challenge though is the water bottle thing. For regular water, I do use the same water bottle over and over, at the gym etc, but I drink fizzy flavored water and I cannot rebottle that! I typically drink at least 2 big bottles a day. I am also convinced that I use too many paper products. I probably could cut down on my shower time a little and not continue to let the water run while I am brushing my teeth. Ack! This is more “area to improve” than I thought. I pledge to cut off the water while brushing my teeth and try to use dishcloths whenever possible rather than paper towels.
Crystal: Besides buying Zena (yes, a Z instead of an X) the Road Warrior Princess (my Prius), I started using an electric kettle to boil water for tea and coffee (I use a cone filter) instead of a tea pot on a stove. It takes less energy and seems quicker. Also, I try to take my own bags to carry groceries. I do this 7 out of 10 times. I want to get it to 10 out of 10. And I shame my friends, family and coworkers into recycling. I won’t stop doing this.
Donna: That’s another thing for me…bags at the grocery store. I have the reusable ones in my car, but I forget (yes, I know!!!) to bring them in with me and only remember when I am at the checkout wishing I could morph them out of the car.
Rosie: I love my reusable bags. I asked for them for my birthday and they are fashionable, comfortable, and hold a boatload of stuff. Carrying them everywhere—not just the grocery store—has become a habit, but it took a few months. I also bought a reusable water bottle that I just love to ditch my bottled water habit. And the biggest thing I have learned to do is to buy carbon offsets for the behaviors that I can’t easily change—like flying for work. Turns out that without flying, my projected carbon footprint would have been 4 tons. My flying was responsible for 8 tons of carbon dioxide and carbon offsets seemed the perfect solution. But, now, I need to push myself further—starting with walking to my meetings and meals that are within a mile of the house. My problem is that I like to work up until the right possible minute and then I hop in the car and zoom to my date 2 minutes away. If I stopped 15 minutes earlier, I could just walk. My big goal leading up to Earth Day is to walk or ride my bike around town.
Janine: From this point on, I will make a real effort to take shorter showers, not run the water the ENTIRE time I brush my teeth and actually get a recycle bin to start ‘recycling.’ I already have the light bulbs I’m supposed to use to conserve energy, so I guess that’s a good start. It’s time I really wrap my head around the idea that WE as in the earth may not be here forever. I think I’ll have my girls group come up with creative ways to ‘GO GREEN’, too. I have to share this mindset now with others. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’m ready to try.
Amy: Environmental sanity – now that’s an interesting concept. I truly feel that the people I see riding around in Hummers are insane . . . insanely self-centered. There is a level of entitlement in that choice that screams morbid self-absorption. I do not understand how anyone justifies that choice. Now granted, we do have a truck and an SUV in my family. My father drives the truck on his farm but uses a small all terrain vehicle for most things as this is more economical and the SUV sits in our driveway unless its cabin-size or trailer-pulling capacity is specifically required. Even when it’s packed to the brim, I feel somewhat guilty driving it. Then I realize I can make one trip in it or a few trips in my car . . . it’s a practical choice at that point. Driving a Hummer around a city, that’s just asinine. As a single female, I would never date a man who drives a Hummer. How’s that for practical??
Donna: I despise hummers and large SUVs. They seem like such a blatant sign of disregard for the environment and everyone on it to me. Most people that own them don’t have a farm.
Crystal: To paraphrase Robert F. Kennedy Jr.- Protecting the planet is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s completely nonpartisan.
Now, it’s your turn. What’s the one thing that you can begin this week to reduce your impact on the Earth? And how can women use their uniquely practical voices to promote environmental sustainability and sanity?
We’ll be back this week with posts on how to reduce the number of catalogs arriving in your mailbox, why recycling your water bottles isn’t enough, why you might want to consider going meatless at least once a week, how you can eat local easily, and other green insights we’ve dug up. We’ll also let you know about our progress, and we hope that you’ll do the same!