The ozone layer is a part of the atmosphere way up high that helps shield the earth from the sun’s most harmful rays. A couple of decades ago, scientists realized that some of the chemicals we were using in our industries and homes were finding their way into the upper atmosphere…and destroying it…They sounded the alarm bell, the international community responded with the Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-depleting substances, and today the ozone layer is gradually healing itself.
And that’s what Al Gore said in An Inconvenient Truth. Things can be done. From time to time I’ll see a list of “things you can do to save the Earth/Environment or to curb global warming” and one point of pride I have is that I’m usually already doing most of them. Instead of just cutting and pasting some generic list I’m going to write up my own personal one. For you. Right now.
1. FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE, WILL YOU RECYCLE ALREADY?
I’m amazed at how many people don’t recycle. Actually I’m amazed at how many people litter, but that’s a different topic. It’s not hard. They make it incredibly easy for you. And it’s even easier than they tell you because here’s a little secret: You don’t have to wash everything. They don’t care. They melt all that crap down, and your baked beans will be burned away. Nobody is going to knock on your door and call you on it. There isn’t some old lady hand washing all the recyclables (and if there is – she’d be sad if she got fired because all the stuff came in clean). Everyone has access to recycle bins. If you’re in the Vancouver area you can get one free of charge – see http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/recycling-and-garbage/blue-boxes.htm
The rest of Canada, type “blue box recycling” and the name of your city into Google and see what pops up.
2. Turn out that light! (duh) This goes for TVs, DVD players and other things on “standby.”
3. If you’ve got a choice between two products that are otherwise equal, buy the one with the least amount of packaging. Buying in bulk is not only cheaper, there’s way less packaging.
4. Buy energy efficient bulbs. There is no downside to this – they may seem more expensive, but they’re not. Same deal with rechargeable batteries.
5. Walk! Or if you’ve got one, ride a bike. You may actually enjoy it.
6. Wrap gifts in reusable bags or suchlike. Anyone who has ever received a birthday or Christmas gift from me knows that when I do wrap, I wrap it in newspaper or flyers. And I’ll draw a picture on it or whatever. It’s kind of my signature thing, but I won’t be offended if you make it yours too. You can get your scented candle, and do the crossword puzzle on the wrapping paper too!
7. I don’t throw out paper that’s only printed on one side. Why would I? It goes in a box next to my printer. That goes for all those letters from Hedy Fry and the Flying Wok Grand Opening Sale. On the back of new D&D character sheets are old D&D character sheets. The only thing that doesn’t work with is resumes. Actually, scratch that – that’s a good idea and I should apply to the Ministry of the Environment and get a cushy gov’t job.
8. Don’t fill the kettle with more water than you’re going to need.
9. Wash your laundry in cold. Is there even a reason not to? I haven’t used hot water in the washing machine in…ever. But maybe I’ve got low maintenance clothes. Besides, heat just makes the stains set.
I never really understood the whole “take showers instead of baths” tip. I take pretty long showers, especially when I’m lost in thought or singing, I kind of figure I use a lot of water. I guess the test is to put the plug in the next time I have a shower and see how much the tub fills up.
I’m not including all the stuff that probably doesn’t apply to you – like putting an insulating jacket over your hot water heater or buying a fuel efficient car. Because if you haven’t done that by now, you’re not going to before you forget about this blog post. Baby steps. You may find that easing slowly into a lifestyle of less impact isn’t really all that awful. It can make you feel good and then later on when the big stuff comes up, you’re in the right state of mind.
ps – (10) – Buy fresh, local food. Like it says on the IT site, transporting and freezing food takes way more energy. I never thought of that! See, I’m learning!