5 Ways I'll be Greener Next Year
I have always loved Earth Day. As a kid, it was a chance to leave class and go do something “real” – plant a tree, clean a creek, or otherwise get my young hands on bits and pieces of the physical world. As a young adult, it meant community events, giving me a chance to better understand the diverse array of organizations that consider themselves “green.” And now, as a not-quite-as-young adult, it places on my calendar an annual challenge to find additional ways to “greenify” my lifestyle.
Much like fellow Ella’s Voice blogger Jennifer Kim, I have come a long way in 10 years. In light of my new position leading the Green Collar Jobs Campaign, this year I am taking a particularly close look at the personal choices I make. Below are the five ways I pledge to make my life greener in 2011.
1. Eat Local, For Real: I have a bad habit of justifying the purchase of non-local, high-energy consumables when cost, availability, or quality seems to be in the way. This year I will put in the extra effort, and dollar, to find local versions of most of my food.
2. Be Patient, Buy Used: I just moved, and have very little furniture. My instinct is to make a run to the nearest big-box retail store and buy everything brand-new, disassembled, wrapped in layers of packaging and made somewhere other than the US. This year, I will avoid this unnecessary waste by being patient, waiting to find a used piece of furniture somewhere nearby.
3. Volunteer: I know this sounds silly, but as a social and political organizer, I rarely make time to do socially responsible, community oriented work not directly related to my job. It has been years since I gave time to a green space clean-up, local garden, or neighborhood group. This year, I will make time, and do so with a feeling of gratitude such service opportunities exist.
4. Fly Smart: Last year, I took more flights than I am able to count. In addition to being a pain, airplanes account for an incredible about of carbon emissions – one roundtrip flight from Oakland to Los Angeles is responsible for 406 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere. While I can’t guarantee a plane-free year, in 2011 I will be more careful with where and when I take to the skies, and find ways to offset, as much as possible, the damage done by my jet-setting lifestyle.
5. Ditch the Plastic: Ok, I admit it, I love plastic stuff, especially in the kitchen. Airtight containers, sandwich and garbage bags, and cling-wrap are a daily part of my life. I have flirted with the switch to compostable, glass, or paper alternatives, only to return to my beloved petroleum product. This year, I will get over it. I will not purchase new plastics, and find ways to phase out existing products.
We're all different levels of green, and can all stand to keep improving. What Green Year's Resolutions will you make for 2011?