Living a Greener Life

 

I’ve been trying to do my part in combating climate change. Individually, my greener-friendlier changes may not seem to make much of a difference, but collectively, they do. The more people adapt to a greener lifestyle, the bigger the overall effect, and mother Earth really needs our help.

By now most of us have probably seen images on social media showing dead whales washing ashore with tons of plastic in their bellies. There is so much plastic and waste in the oceans that marine mammals are mistaking them for food, and are dying because of it. These images are heartbreaking. Whether it’s whales dying of plastic consumption, or dolphins dying in fish netting, or sea turtles getting their heads caught in plastic pop can holders or choking on plastic straws, it is beyond time that everyone starts to do their part.

A goal of mine has been to eliminate as much waste as I can, and I thought I was doing a good job until a neighbor of mine was going on vacation a day before trash was to be put out and asked if he could put his trash in my bin. I told him he could, but in my head wondered if a family of three’s trash would fit into my bin, along with my own trash of a household of two.

I was stunned when he came over with one bag of trash…for the week…for three people! For a household of two, in one week, we usually put out four, sometimes five bags of trash. Everything that can be recycled, gets recycled, and yet it seems we still have too much garbage. When my neighbor gets back, I’m going to have to ask him his family’s secret.

Composting is something I’ve been considering. That should help reduce the amount of trash I accumulate, and maybe even make my grass greener. I’m rereading a book I bought about nine years ago, when my interest in green living began. It’s called green chicsaving the Earth in style by Christie Matheson. Even though there is nothing very “chic” about me, I was interested in the green aspect of the book and how very simple some of the changes were.

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So much energy can be saved by simply changing the lightbulbs we use to CFL’s, compact fluorescent lightbulbs. According to the book, switching to a CFL “in just one lamp that’s on for four hours a day will reduce your annual carbon emissions by around 150 pounds. “[E]lectricity…accounts for 39 percent of all carbon emissions.”

On top of changing the lightbulbs we use, I’ve also become a stickler for turning out the lights when no one is in the room. This is probably the easiest way to be green. Another easy way to be green is to cut your plastic water bottle use. I bought filters for my faucets and I refill a glass bottle from the tap. When on the go, I use a stainless steel reusable bottle that keeps the water nice and cold, even for hours in the sun.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been turning off the faucet when I brush my teeth. It was in my fifth-grade science class. We were reading from out text book and there was a section on water conservation with an insert of a picture of a child brushing his teeth. It said to turn off the water while we brushed, and so I did and the habit has stuck with me for almost three decades. According to Matheson, “[t]he average faucet runs through three gallons of water per minute.” That’s a whole lot of water being wasted. Here is another easy way to be green – turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. Individually it may not seem like much, but as a whole if everyone did this, the amount of water saved would be phenomenal. (Taking shorter showers would add even more water savings).

So here is a brief list from the book of some more easy green changes everyone can make in their daily life.

  1. Unplug chargers and appliances not being used. Plugged in charges still draw energy even when not being used.
  2. Wash your clothes in cold water. Hot water uses way too much energy and it’s not very green.
  3. Keep your thermostat one degree cooler in the winter and one degree warmer in the summer. These simple changes can hundreds of pounds of CO2 a year.
  4. Buy eco-friendly household products like detergent, hand soap, and dish soap.
  5. Eat less or no meat. It takes over 13,000 pounds of gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.

 

These are just some of the simple way a person can live a greener life. What are some of your favorite ways to live green?

 

 

 

 

No More Bottled Water For Me

I started this blog four years ago with the intention to use it as a platform for my writing, yet I’m sure posts about animals outnumber posts about writing tenfold. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Nothing would satisfy me more than to be the reason someone saves an animals from a shelter as opposed to visiting a pet store or breeder.

Yes, there are reputable breeders out there, and in a perfect world I think shelters and reputable breeders would be the only places people would get dogs. But this isn’t a perfect world. It never was.  And people are greedy assholes and have no problem breeding dogs in horrendous conditions without proper care, all for the sake of profit.

It’s easier to over-breed a dog for 10 years, keep her in filthy conditions, make a ton of money off her, and then toss her in a shelter or shoot her and leave her in a ditch somewhere, (yes, this happens) than to get a real job and actually work for a living.

I know not all breeders are like this, but until we are no longer killing animals every year because there is no space for them in shelters, I’ll never understand why people would go to a breeder, or how a good person would ever think to add more dogs to an already over-populated world of canines and become a breeder.

You are part of the problem. As two of my favorite sayings go: “Don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die” and “Every dog bred is a shelter dog dead.”

These are slogans I have seen at puppy mill and pet store protests I’ve been to, and they’ve really stuck with me.

Wait, I seem to have gone on about shelter dogs again. I do that a lot. But this post was not supposed to be about animals. I wanted to blog about something I decided to do while I was the shelter today, playing in a yard with one of the dogs named, Sevvy.  It was pretty warm out, and I had a bottle of water with me.

I sipped my water and it was ice cold, even though I had filled the bottle over an hour ago. The bottle was a reusable container, not plastic, and it was the kind that keeps the water at a cold temperature for over 12 hours. The cold water was so refreshing I had to ask myself why I even drink plastic bottled water.

Like many people I’m sure, plastic water bottles became a permanent fixture in my refrigerator, and I used to think nothing to grab a bottle, sit on my couch in front of my TV, and drink away. After doing this for many years and thinking there was nothing wrong with it because I recycle, I finally asked myself the simple question, “Why”?

Why do I need to drink bottled water? A while back, I decided I wouldn’t drink any bottled water while in my house. I had installed a simple water purifier system to my faucet and drank water the old fashioned way – with a cup.

I made the “no drinking bottled water” rule at home for me, while nagging everyone else in my home to do the same thing, yet never asked myself why I thought it was okay to grab a bottled water when I was on the go, especially since I have about a dozen reusable bottles in my house.

So, I was thinking today at the shelter, as I was drinking from my non-plastic reusable water bottle, that I will make a pledge to not use one single plastic water bottle for the entire month and since this is the first of the month, it’s a perfect time to start.

Again, I don’t use a lot of plastic water bottles to begin with, but I don’t see a reason I should use any at all.  I will drink from the faucet with my purifier and use reusable bottles when away from home.

Recycling is great and something we all should so, but reducing our waste is even better. It uses up a lot of energy to recycle, and it’s better for the environment to reduce first. So that will be my goal this month, to not just reduce my bottled water consumption but eliminate it.

My other goal is to finally finish that novel I’ve been working on for almost a year…right almost forgot about that.  Priorities.

 

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Saving Our Water

In 48 hours, 110 people, mostly women and children, have died in Somalia due to starvation caused by a drought. Over six million people, more than half the country’s population, are vulnerable to dying of starvation and diseases caused by drinking contaminated water, whatever water they can find.

People dying of hunger is hard to comprehend in 2017, when in America, I can’t drive two miles without passing a fleet of fast food joints, pizza places, Chinese restaurants, hot dog stands, and convenient stores with their quick and cheap meal deals.

No one in the year 2017 should die of hunger or thirst. In every grocery store, aisles are dedicated to bottled water, a multi-billion dollar industry. We seem to have food and water in abundance every where we go, yet the state of California just got over a major drought of their own. Even though I don’t live in the state, I was worried about the consequences of a dry California.

I worry because I know the way we are living and eating as a country is not sustainable. We waste too much. We eat too much meat, which takes up too much land and uses too much water, and our water is being contaminated with farm animals’ waste that spills into our rivers and lakes and streams.

It worries me how much agriculture is ruining our planet. When the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, was asked during his state’s drought what people should do he told them to eat a veggie burger because he knew the absurd amount of water it takes to produce beef. Approximately 660 gallons of water is needed to produce a 1/3 hamburger and 1,799 gallons of water per pound of beef. (National Geographic)

You can shorten all the showers you want, wash dishes as fast as you can, and make sure you’re filling the washing machine with as many clothes as possible, but if you end the day by knocking back a couple burgers, your water conservation attempts don’t really add up to much.

The drought that is killing the Somalian people was “induced by two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall…inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock, while communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food and money to survive.” (CNN)

If the Californian drought should have taught us anything it’s that water can not be taken for granted. We need to try to live more sustainable lives. I fear one day our lives may depend on it. What is really stopping what’s happening in Somalia from happening here?

What if an entire region of the U.S. suffers a California-like drought? What effect would that have on the rest of the country?

I’m not saying these worries keep me up at night, but I do think about it enough to change the way I eat, being mindful of my carbon footprint. You don’t have to be a vegetarian or a fancy vegan to make a positive change for the environment. You can be a reducetarian. (Yes, that’s a real thing.)

If you would like to help the Somalian people, you can donate to the American Red Cross, as well as other organizations working to deliver clean water to the region.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net