Despite governmental setbacks to environmental protection on climate change, there are several things that an individual can do to “go green.” Sometimes it’s the cumulative effects of small actions that add up to real change. For example, I look at the excessive plastic packaging that encases so many commercial products. It’s unnecessary and can create a real hazard in marine waters by entangling and choking wildlife such as pelagic birds and mammals.
But one doesn’t have to purchase those products that are wrapped in multiple layers of plastic. There are often alternatives that have identical functions but minimal packaging. The problem is obvious. Most people toss the wrappings in the trash. Out of sight, then out of mind. However, there is no “away” and many of these products end up in the ocean. The manufacture of all that plastic requires petroleum as does its shipping. So one can have an immediate positive impact on marine pollution, air quality, and wildlife protection by simply choosing products with less packaging.
What about energy consumption? With our dependence on fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) we are having a profound impact causing climate change. Again, an individual can take a few simple steps to reduce that impact. Energy conservation measures have been promoted for decades and it still is an easy and effective way to help protect the environment. Recent storms, such as Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012, show two things. One is that the coast is more vulnerable to intense, powerful storms because of climate change. The other is that we are totally dependent on the widespread use of electricity.
There are many more appliances and objects that require electricity in our homes than there were just a decade ago. Being aware of the amount of electricity that we use is an important start to reducing our consumption. Think of ways that you can cut your use. It could be something as simple as using CFL or LED lighting to the more complex installation of solar panels.
The point is that everyone can find ways to reduce their energy consumption. Try keeping a personal daily audit of all electrical use for one week. Then examine it carefully to see where savings are possible. Does the television really have to be on for eight hours every day? Check on adapters to phones and tablets. They don’t need to be plugged in all the time. And why are the lights still on in a room with no one there? I would argue that a mindset of energy conservation in which we are constantly thinking of ways of using less can have an enormous impact. An individual can take control of this situation and help to sustain the environment.
Copyright Gil Newton 2009 Thanks to Chris Dumas for logo image.