At some point, I decided that I wanted to characterize myself as an environmentalist.
That's me, as a tree hugger going to a "T" party. Notice the non-recyclable red Solo cup.
I recycle everything I can, carrying empties miles just so that I have an appropriate container to drop it in. I tried to make a compost bin in my urban backyard, which backfired into a maggot breeding plastic pit. I eat no meat, eggs, or dairy products since farm animals contribute more to global warming than the transportation industry.
And yet, I still find myself occasionally buying soda in containers that will just be tossed, getting my produce from the grocery store instead of my CSA, and flying on a plane all the way home to Vermont a few times a year.
As an American living in an urban area, I invariably have a supremely large carbon footprint. For every piece of cheese that I don't eat and every time I use my purse instead of a shopping bag for CVS trip, the impact is just teeny tiny compared to coal strip mining (watched a documentary on that today - HORRIFYING!).
But everything that is done matters. EVERYTHING. Each little piece of litter that is picked up. Every time you take the bus instead of drive. Every time the microwave is used instead of the stove (it uses less energy).
I realize that I forget this quite often in my daily life of a crazy collegiate. I often feel that I'm too sleep deprived, hungover, or apathetic to do much of anything, and I'm really worried that if I, a vegan, car-less, environmental public policy fanatic, feel this way, then we are definitely doomed. The Earth is going down a very dark and dirty road, but there is something that we all can do about it. Small things that really can make some kind of difference. No, we're not going to solve the problem of global warming, and no, we may not be able to save the polar bear's ice caps, but we can move forward and not backwards.
Here's some tips for people like me. Girls who care about how they look, love to have fun, and make sure they tune in to Gossip Girl every Monday. Or anyone really, just think about these things and try to make a difference.
- Unplug your phone charger when you're not actually using the phone - it drains just as much energy even if you're phone isn't attached to it.
- Keep your kitchen clean and organized. You will know what food you have before it goes bad, saving money and your nose from moldy grossness. And if you start saving money you can use that to buy healthy and more environmentally friendly local produce. Your body will thank you.
- Franzia now has a brief explanation of how their packaging and manufacturing process is environmentally friendly on the side of their wonderful boxes. Now you can be classy AND help the environment.
- Turn off your lights - ALWAYS. My roommates have a horrible habit of wandering around the house, leaving lights on, and I'm constantly turning them off. Sometimes they're left on all night after I've passed out. If you don't have a roommate like me who does this, DO IT YOURSELF. You'll see an immediate difference in your electric bill.
- Buy natural beauty products. While I can't avoid all of the chemicals that I would like, I make sure that I buy all-natural exfoliating scrub. You know those little balls that do such a good job of sloughing off skin? If it's not a natural product, those are little tiny plastic balls that do not break down. They go through your pipes and out to lakes, rivers, and oceans, where scientist have found these micro particles impacting the health and development of aquatic creatures. Your pet hermit crab would love it if you used St Ives exfoliating scrub, thank you very much.
- Buy vintage. The textile industry is incredibly harmful to the environment, and you will save quite a bit by looking through used clothing stores. And if you have a slight issue with wearing someone else's clothes, I have had incredible success with belts and shoes at stores like Avalon in Pittsburgh. Plus, you'll never have to worry about running into another girl at a party wearing the same exact thing.
So get out there and hug a tree or two!