Well, it’s April 22nd, and April 22nd is Earth Day. (Actually it’s a few other things as well, of course, like Jack Nicholson’s birthday, Discovery Day in Brazil, and something else I won’t talk about here, but for the purposes of this blog, it’s JUST Earth Day. Sorry, Jack.) Now it’s not my intent here to debate the merits of taking responsibility for our environment, nor to discuss whether or not global warming is something we should worry about. (I personally think it is, but I’m not going to make a case for it here other than to say that when an *overwhelming* majority of those who’ve spent their lives and educational careers learning about and studying such things agree there’s a problem, it’s just a wee bit arrogant for us laypersons to dismiss it out of hand.) What I would like to mention here briefly are two meaningful (and really rather simple) ways to reduce the negative impact we have. These are both places I’ve only recently discovered myself, so I present them not as an expert on either. I simply want to say hey, this looks rather cool and useful, and maybe you should check it out. Anyone out there who’s had experience with these places or others like them is more than welcome to comment and let us all know more.
First off, if you’re like me, 99.9% of the catalogs you get in the mail are really only good for one thing: Exercise. They provide just a little more extra weight in your walk from the mailbox to your home before getting tossed, and at least, hopefully, recycled. (I get to have EXTRA exercise because after having my parents’ mail sent to me for a year back when they were touring around the country with no permanent address, their names are still in some far-off database as being at my address. I’m not even going to bother explaining why I still sometimes get mail for my grandfather, who lived in PENNSYLVANIA and passed away OVER SIX YEARS AGO!) It’s not only annoying, but printing and delivering all that junk takes I don’t know how many tons of paper and gallons of gas, all to give you something you don’t want. Nice and wasteful, eh?
Well it seems there’s a place by the name of Greendimes.com that will help you get off all of those lists. In looking at their website, they offer a free service and two “premium” services, both of which last for 5 years. The free service gives you links to take yourself off of mailing lists, and at the very least makes for a nice hub of helpful links that will aid you in stopping a lot of this stuff from ending up in your mailbox. The premium services have Greendimes do the work for you, filter out catalogs you actually DO want to receive, and monitor mailing lists to keep you from being put back on without your really wanting it.
Frankly, I’m considering one of the premium services, as I’m a lazy, lazy man. Given the fact that their MOST expensive five year service breaks down to 60 cents a month ($36 for 5 years) and gives you two–everyone say it with me, you’ve heard these words before by now, I’m sure–energy-saving compact florescent light bulbs as part of the deal, I figure it’s easily worth it. 60 cents a month? Darn, I’ll have to get by without that pack of gum.
The other place is TerraPass, which I actually noticed from seeing a bumper sticker on the back of someone’s car. TerraPass is, to quote Wikipedia (told you I was lazy), “a social enterprise that provides carbon offsetting products to individuals and businesses. …Terrapass uses proceeds from member purchases to fund greenhouse gas reduction projects such as wind farms and methane digesters.” Basically, you can calculate your carbon footprint (for example, driving 8,000 miles per year in my Honda Civic EX has a footprint of 5,397 pounds of C02), then purchase a “carbon offset” based on that amount. As stated above, they take that money and put it toward alternative energy production, tree planting (trees take in C02 and give back oxygen), and pollution cleanup, all of which is calculated to offset the C02 that the car puts out. You can also buy offsets for things like air travel and home energy usage.
To insure they’re not just taking the money and running, they’re independently audited according to standards established by the Center for Resources Solutions (www.resource-solutions.org), and the audits are available on TerraPass’s website.
Now I understand that some consider this to be a bad thing, encouraging irresponsibility that can simply be purchased away and throwing money at a problem that should be solved by behavioral change. While I do see the point to this argument, isn’t the fact that people are doing SOMEthing rather than nothing helpful? Being willing to make a monetary sacrifice for environmental causes constitutes a shift in one’s mindset, which I would argue is likely to lead to other shifts along those same lines. The point is, it gets people thinking about it, and the money certainly does go to good causes. The more money spent on alternative energy sources, the more corporate interest it draws, and the greater the chance of those sources being developed further. Besides, you’re going to take that trip to Vegas anyway, right?
So there it is. I’m not saying you have to do these things. I’m still looking into them, myself, after all. But if you’re looking for ways to create a little environmental change, there you go. Two ways to be a little more environmentally conscious, along with bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store, replacing your light bulbs with compact florescents, and turning your computers OFF when you’re not using them (I really don’t understand why people leave them on all night, anyway.) I also recommend limiting your useage of “Li’l Lisa’s Patented Animal Slurry.”
I shall now get down off my soapbox.
Michael G. Munz