by morgan henley
The green movement is in full swing and gaining even more momentum this spring. In these times of economic uncertainty, it’s getting easier to imagine similar events happening to our environment. Actually, helping out the environment really is not all that difficult. Here are some pretty easy ways to “green” your life that will go a long way for only half the effort.
1. Eat less meat and dairy. Did you know if you cut your meat and dairy consumption by 20% it has the same environmental effects as switching from a normal car to a hybrid? When cows pass gas, they are emitting methane into the environment. According to the EPA, they contribute up to 28% of the methane emissions from human-related uses in the world. Their waste products are also very dangerous and toxic. There has been talk of turning cow excrement’s into a new energy source, but until this is done, cow waste is a huge environmental concern.
2. Compost. You probably didn’t know that if you throw away a banana peel and that trash is put into a landfill (as it probably will if you live in Jacksonville) that it won’t decompose? That banana peel will mummify and will be in tact for an archaeologist in 2100 to find. If you were to compost your food matter, not only would you eliminate excess garbage from filling landfills, you also have a new source of fertilizer. Fertilizers are normally synthetic and can put harmful chemicals into the soil. Things that are good to compost with include vegetable or fruit, egg shells, coffee grinds, weeds, grass clippings, paper, vacuum dust, and animal manure.
3. Be proactive. The reason many of our country’s ways tend to be on the less environmentally friendly side is because many people in our government don’t care or think their constituents don’t care. Make sure you know what your representatives support and don’t support when it comes to environmental legislation. The League of Conservation Voters (lcv.org) is very helpful in providing scores for how “green” your representatives are. Remember, we put these people in office and it’s our responsibility to make sure our priorities are theirs also.
4. Use your Windows. Opening your windows and doors instead of using your air conditioner can really cut down on your energy usage. This can also lower your energy bill. Fans are also much less energy intensive than air conditioning. Make sure all of your doors are lined so there are no gaps that cool air can escape through or hot air can enter into. Your curtains should be a light colored heavy material that reflects the heat from entering into the house. Plant trees on the northern or southern side of the house to shade the house from the glare of the sun.
5. Research. Look at the things your buying and see how far they’ve been shipped and notice what kind of packaging they’re coming in. Just because a mango is organic does not mean that it didn’t travel hundreds of miles in large semi trucks to get to you. Buying your products and foods from local North Florida companies is a good way to insure this. Buying used is also a great way to eliminate the excesses that often come in the production of new clothing. Reusing is the ultimate way to recycle- no energy was put into the production of the item! Jacksonville has lots of thrift stores and vintage shops, take advantage of them. For food options, many people are now investing in Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSA’s). Consumers invest into the farm and share the crops that are grown on the farm. There is one in northeast Florida called Palmetto Organics that offers a CSA with fruits and vegetables that are all organic. Not only does this insure the quality of the produce, it also insures that it came from a local, dependable farmer. In addition to keeping your body and the environment healthier it also helps support our local economy! Go to palmettoorganics.com for more information.
Being green has come along way from the images of yesteryear where you’d imagine a dreadlocked hippie who lived in a tent and didn’t believe in indoor plumbing. We all love having a beautiful environment to call home so we better try to protect what we can.
by morgan henley