Monday, February 16, 2009

gotta start somewhere...

An excellent feature written by Liza Mundy, Can One Household Save the Planet? that appeared in Sunday's Washington Post Magazine examined the significance of small household changes, like energy-efficient light bulbs, in our nation's quest towards sustainability. Mundy not only pulled together some high-impact statistics, shared about the limitations her lifestyle (working mother of two) has had on her ability to green her habits, and identified the core issues contributing to climate change - she did so with a great candor and she covered a lot of ground. One of my favorite lines:

"The fact that the bulb will last for years and years is not necessarily and asset when you've bought one you regret... And you can't just toss it in the trash..."

Also, I love her description about checkout infrastructure:

"Since I am the main grocery shopper, I could and did switch to reusable shopping bags, once I got over my fear of disrupting the express lane with a bag that didn't fit the infrastructure."

I had forgotten about the bewilderment on the faces of cashiers when I offer up reusable bags or attempt to pack them myself, hoping to intercept the use of additional plastic bags they put around dish soap, something cold or something made of paper or on a hanger. Have you ever experienced it? It's pretty funny. It's near impossible to get a reusable bag on the radar of a cashier. Considering the flood of reusable bags available at all the major retail chains you'd think they'd be expecting this, no?

Anywho... I could go on and on pointing out passages but should probably just urge you to read the article. So the last passage I'll point out, which will likely be the topic of a future post, touches on a new-to-me aspect of a topic particularly close to my heart: eating local. Mundy writes:

"Many environmental groups, for example, recommend eating locally grown, seasonal foods to cut down on the emissions associated with food transportation. The thing is, as Michael Specter pointed out in the New Yorker last year, fruits and vegetables grown in friendly climates without the need for lots of chemical fertilizers are sometimes greener than food grown locally; nor is it necessarily true that "local" produce trucked 100 miles from Pennsylvania in an old gas-guzzling pickup is greener than produce shipped from afar by rail or container ship."

(thnx LM and David)

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