Three thoughts hit me all at once, just as I was about to launch this new column on going green locally.
First, although it just happens to be the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, I hope the ideas and tips I share here about going "green" become more than a once-a-year consideration. Instead, I hope they encourage an everyday understanding of how simple and easy it is to do the right thing for the planet, right here in our community, our little patch of earth.
Second, I plan to keep all preaching and politics out of this. As my teenage son recently said about the controversy over the pace of global warming, "Why would politicians argue about it? Why don't they just do what's good for the planet anyway?" My feeling is that going "green" is really about becoming aware of the many easy, quick and cost-saving choices out there, and then selecting a few at a time that make sense for you.
My house has solar-generated electricity and I use nontoxic cleaning products, but I also still drive a small SUV, and I don't like the looks of CFLs in my dining chandelier so it sports old-fashioned light bulbs. I certainly haven't made a total transformation to the "tree-hugger" lifestyle myself, so all I wish to do is help a few Bellmorites to think about a few "green" steps they can take in very practical sense while living here in the U.S., right here on Long Island. After all, there's a byproduct of being kind to our planet, something helpful to all of us in today's economy: reducing fossil fuel consumption by reducing our energy usage also reduces our monthly bills.
Thirdly, let's have a few laughs and fun along the way! We may not be giddy over going green, but having a sense of humor about forgetting to schlep canvas bags to King Kullen and using those crinkly plastic ones might just bring us all together a bit … kinda the point of our being on this planet in the first place.
The Dawn of Earth Day: Morning Measures
So, let's get started. Right now.
Here are a six simple steps that might fit into your early routine:
- Wake up with the wonderful weather. Lately, it's been sunny and nice outside, so open a window and let a cool breeze in! You've just improved the indoor air quality! (Efficient cooling and heating are topics for another time!)
- Smell the herbal tea (purchased at Teapot, perhaps?) or the coffee (Fair Trade Certified offerings from Dunkin Donuts?). Drink the coffee (from a non-Styrofoam cup or reusable commuter mug). Then spread the grounds on the ground. Coffee grounds add acidity to soil, something your rose, azalea and rhododendron bushes and evergreen trees thrive on. Coffee grounds are also a natural insect repellent -- outdoors at least, considering how ridiculous they would look on your windowsill or around your doorstep. Put them anywhere you want (outside) to get rid of ants, snails or (ugh!) slimy slugs!
- Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and take a shorter shower. (Maybe take it one step further and look into installing a low-flow showerhead, much improved since the days of bad hair as shown on"Seinfeld." You can find one at Ace Hardware.)
- Turn off the lights, the TV, computers, appliances, etc. when you leave a room or just plain leave. Energy efficient lighting, and other ways to reduce your electric bill may take 10 more columns, but for now one easy step is to buy "smart" power strips which automatically turn off the phantom current (standby electricity still flowing, sometimes called vampire power or power drain). Check out AG Electrical Supply or Weinman's Hardware for these $30 devices, well worth cutting the average household power drain of about $100 per year, according to various consumer sources. And, while shopping, consider CFL bulbs, LED lights and solar lanterns.
- Walk the kids to school instead of carpooling or individually driving them there. (Everyone may even feel better, lose weight if you keep it up and avoid the hassle of those overcrowded parking lots, particularly at our local elementary schools!)
- Prepare to do something "green" this weekend (okay, so here are five more ideas:).
- Plant a tree to help local air quality. (Find one at Island Greenery or Old Mill Nurseries.)
- Inflate your car tires to cut gasoline use (maybe at Mobil or at Valero.)
- Buy slightly used toys, household goods or other items. (Consider Goodwill.)
- Participate in Shed the Meds - an estimated 250 million pounds of unused medications are disposed of improperly every year, now showing up in landfills, waterways and drinking water sources.
- And, mark your calendar to toss all the hazardous chemicals around your house, from paint to pesticides, at the next Hempstead Town-run S.T.O.P. collection.
Up next? Spring (green) cleaning; green weddings and graduations. Is your business taking steps to be green? Let the Go Green Gal know!
(The Go Green Gal is a new column that will be featured on Bellmore Patch periodically. A long-time environmental enthusiast and community-minded Bellmorite, Nancy Hiler is currently corporate communications/marketing director for local solar energy company, Built Well Solar Corp.)