Monday, November 15, 2010

Think Green!

With the rise of environmental awareness, businesses have come around and are beginning to market ‘green’ with great enthusiam. Many of us have been raised with an environmental conscience so it is but a small step to again embrace the premise. If in doubt, the comparisons in the American standard of living today and fifty years ago make a compelling statement.

In 1950, the average household consisted of almost four people. Most homes were less than 1, 200 square feet and had one or two bedrooms and one bathroom according to the National Association of Home Builders. With a modest home and ownership of a family car, most people thought they had achieved the American Dream.
By 2003, the average household size had shrunk to 2.6 people and yet the size of new homes had doubled. Half of them have at least four bedrooms, all have two or more bathrooms. Americans own twice as many cars per person, multiple TVs, computers, and cell phones. None of this is necessarily bad... but just how much is enough?

Betsy Taylor, president of the Center for a New American Dream, thoughtfully discusses the changes in American aspirations. For our parents and grandparents, the American Dream meant hope, an unshakeable belief that happiness and security were truly possible. That dream still exists but the original focus on security and personal wellbeing slowly gave way to an obsession with ‘more’. More work, more material goods, larger cars and homes have not granted contentment or free time. This in fact has created a disconnect with nature and the waste generated by packaging the goods for expanding collections is almost overwhelming. Changing the way one consumes to improve quality of life and protect the environment is not difficult.

Going green does not mean deprivation; it means changing habits. Simple tips can be implemented as a lifestyle. For example borrow books, CDs, DVDs, and video games from the library and share magazine subscriptions with friends. Use fewer household cleaners; try soap and water, baking soda, or vinegar instead. Share a lawnmower and tools with your neighbors and learn to do your own repairs rather than throwing things away. A prime example is the shirt with the missing button... learn to sew. Turn out the lights when you leave a room and use ceiling fans to boost your cooling/heating system effectiveness. Skip prepared and frozen food by making dinners from scratch and then utilize leftovers for lunches. Plant a garden and swap produce with neighbors. For many more ideas check out the ‘Turn the Tide’ initiative at NewDream.org/TurnTheTide. Additionally, to give away that which you don’t want or find what you may need, join Freecycle.org. where donated goods are exchanged or given away. Think Recycle!