I recently did an interview with a local radio station. I’d been invited on to talk about Earth Month and what we can do in our homes to reduce our carbon footprint.
I offered up my usual advice — neither new nor glamorous, but nonetheless worth repeating. We must, I said, remember that the three Rs start with “reduce.” We absolutely must reduce our consumption of fossil-fuel-burning energy. And then I outlined how incredibly simple — as well as economically sound — this is. If you’re doing it right, I said, living green should, overall, save you money.
The radio interviewer interrupted. “Hasn’t Earth Day lost its appeal?” he asked. “Didn’t it used to be trendy? Don’t you worry now that no one cares?”
It’s long been known that the undersea noise we create with our large machines — oil drilling equipment, ships and submarines — has a detrimental effect on whales, causing hearing damage and changes in feeding, mating and communication. And noise from snowmobiles has often been cited as the reason some species of animals in Yellowstone National Park are being stressed and pushed out of their preferred habitats, impacting their health and increasing mortality.
It turns out that our large machines, though, may not be our only cause for concern when it comes to outdoor noise pollution and its effects on the natural world. Our small, compact mobile phones — and the apps we put on them — have been shown to change the behavior of birds.
Will the noise we individuals are increasingly capable of imposing upon other species outdoors soon also have enough power to affect their ability to survive?
I want to start this conversation by making the point that I am extremely grateful for the time in which I live. I love information and the many ways that we can access this information.
However, I do want to talk about a question that has been on my mind for some time: As a culture, are we addicted to technology?
It usually takes me seven minutes to get to my daughter’s preschool. Today, it took 27.
That’s because, for the first time in 18 months, I strapped my 11-month-old son into the double stroller and walked there.
I like to walk. Our family of four has one car, and in the two years that we’ve owned it, we’ve only put 14,000 miles on the odometer.
I’m not alone. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, nearly 80 percent of respondents look for homes in pedestrian-friendly areas and 59 percent would choose a smaller home if it meant less driving.
Still, I find that once I’ve gotten into the habit of driving someplace — my daughter’s preschool, the Trader Joe’s on the other side of the highway, the garden store — I tend to keep on driving there, deeming it too far to reach on foot. The funny thing is, once I decide to test walking to a destination once, I realize not only how doable it is but also how satisfying running that errand becomes.
So now I’m on a quest of sorts: to debunk the myth that certain places in my everyday life are too far to reach on foot.
Sure, you’ve thought about adding solar panels to your roof as a way of reducing your home’s carbon footprint. Maybe you’ve even given wind power a gander. But what about ground source heat pumps?
By now, most greenies know that computers and their accessories are some of the biggest energy hogs in the home — and that improperly recycled electronics can easily end up in toxic dumps in developing countries.
Want to make sure you’re doing right by Mother Earth when it comes to computers? Follow these three steps to green computing:
Did you know that only one percent of the world’s water is fresh water fit for human consumption? Or that you can save more than 30 percent on your water bill by installing and using low-flow fixtures?
Sure, we could tell you all the facts about water conservation, but we’d rather show you, courtesy of this infographic from eLocal.com.
Ford, Chevy, Nissan, and Mitsubishi have all announced plans to release fully electric cars in the coming years, which means we’re going to have to have charging stations available for about a million all-electric cars by 2014. So, how’s that going to work?
Good question. Here’s your cheat sheet on what they’re calling electric vehicle “smart charging.”
Back in June when I wrote about the upcoming Cash for Clunkers program, few observers actually thought many people would take advantage of it. Surprisingly, then, as you’ve probably heard on the news, it was so wildly successful that it used up its entire $1 billion allotment in a single week!
Take a look at a pile of food scraps, and most eco-minded folks think “compost.” And sure enough, that’s a great way to recycle. (Or is it “reuse”?)
In any case, there’s another use for your rotting apple cores and moldering orange peels: Energy. A few municipalities have started setting up facilities to capture the biogas that escapes as organic matter decomposes and turn that gas into energy.