Monday, April 19, 2010

Finding our way to sustainability

Happy Earth Day week! Since Earth Day is this week I am going to make the effort to put up a post every day regarding an environmental topic. Earth Day is a time to look at not only what environmental problems we are facing but how our everyday actions affect the world around us.

In the last few years the word green has come to mean more than just a color. But what does "going green" mean? Unfortunately, much of the public perception of going green means changing your light bulbs to CFL's, buying energy star appliances, and recycling. All of these things are helpful and if everyone did them it would help considerably but there is more to being green. So what else can be done? Well, let's look at a new word that is being used more and that is sustainability.

From an environmental point of view, sustainability means that an action can be continued with little impact on the environment. When you take a look at how we live every day, it becomes pretty obvious that how we currently live is not only not good for the environment but it is not sustainable. We are consuming resources at an incredible pace and at some point those resources will give out. So how can we live sustainably so that we can make those resources last longer and continue with the same level of comfort we have come to expect?

First, let's start with where we actually live. Increase the amount of insulation in your house so that you are conserving energy. If replacing your windows is not an option, then look at placing solar film on your windows. It will increase the efficiency and is a more affordable option for many people. Go ahead and change those light bulbs and consider placing an aerator on your sinks so that you are using less water.  These are just a few simple things that we can do that will make a big difference when put together.

Now, let's look outside. If you have room, one of the obvious options is to start a small garden to provide some of your food. Did you know that on average, food travels 1,500 miles to reach your plate? How sustainable is that? It's much more efficient and healthy if it comes from your own back yard. Instead of having expansive lawns, replace them with drought tolerant plants and rock gardens. Grow plants that serve multiple purposes and create areas that provide habitat for our non-human neighbors.

This may not seem like monumental steps, but who said it had to be? Make what changes you can and do what is effective for your family. Take time this week to decide what changes you can make that you can stick with and see how much better your home and your environment is for it.

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