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our small attempt to save the planet

May 30, 2008 2 comments

I posted a while back about suffering from “ecoanxiety” – the fear that I’m not doing enough to reduce my family’s ecological footprint. While we still aren’t ready to move to the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, we’re taking our baby steps to do what we can where we are. So what are we doing?

  • Almost every bulb in the house now is a compact fluorescent. Not perfect, but better.
  • I have become an absolute Nazi about turning off lights. The kids are learning.
  • We bought the reusable shopping bags. And it isn’t too bad. I’m also trying to remember to decline the bag if I only have a couple of items that I can carry out in my hands.
  • Still struggling with leaving things plugged in, but the phone and ipod chargers get unplugged as soon as they are done.
  • Thermostats stay at 72 in the summer. Usually around 66 in the winter.
  • Whenever possible we take the smaller, more fuel-efficient car.
  • We’re recycling everything we can think of.

It isn’t a ton in light of what we could be doing and my anxiety is only slightly lessened by what we’ve done, but it’s a start – right?

ecoanxiety – great essay from Time magazine

December 16, 2007 1 comment

After digging out from finals and the recent Oklahoma icepolcalypse I am finally getting around to reading some issues of Time that have stacked up on my desk over the last month. I came across a great essay by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen called “It’s Inconvenient Being Green“. In it she talks about doing what she is willing to do to “go green”, but feeling guilty about what she is not doing to save the planet. Hence the idea of eco-anxiety.

I feel her pain. I drive a car that gets 30+ mpg, I use the right kind of light bulbs, I recycle, I turn off lights, we’ve even talked about putting solar panels on our next house – but I still feel guilty about all of the things I probably should be doing. Takeuchi Cullen resolves her essay with the realization that the things she doesn’t do are avoided because they are inconvenient. Again, I totally agree. I could bike to a lot of the places I need to go, but it is always too hot (cold, rainy, dark, . . . ) . OKC sucks for public transportation and most of the roads around my house don’t even have sidewalks, so the car is always the way to go. Refillable water bottles? Great idea, but I never remember mine. Reusable grocery bags? Again, great, but when shopping for six we would need a Sherpa to carry it around. Just the fact that I read the article in a paper copy of the magazine makes me feel like I personally destroyed a square mile of rain forest.

So I will continue to wallow in my ecoanxiety. Continue to feel inferior to people who have reduced their carbon footprint to reflect that of a tribal villager in Burkina Faso. Continue to feel guilty about leaving some of my vampire electronics plugged in because it’s too big of a pain to restart Tivo every day. Continue to do less to harm the planet, but still do some harm.

At least I can feel morally superior to the Hummer-driving, no-recycling, lights-on-all-night guy down the street.  Of course, he doesn’t suffer from eco-anything.

consumer consequences game – how many earths do you need?

November 17, 2007 Leave a comment

There are lots of different versions of this kind of environmental footprint calculator, but this one seems to cover the important bases really well.

Consumer Consequences – from American Public Media

I’m bummed that I require 4.3 planets to sustain everyone at my lifestyle, but more than half of that  is due to driving. In OKC with everything spread out, no public transportation, and no sidewalks in my part of the burbs driving is a fact of life that no one questions. Maybe someday.

Go check it out – how many earths do you need?