In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to assess my eco-progress
over the past year – things I’ve successfully implemented/changed, and areas
for improvement – using criteria from about a year of Going Green columns.
My first official column dealt with trash – and I vowed to
produce less of it. Certainly, I’ve become a diligent recycler, I remember
my reusable mug much more often, and I pay more attention to excess packaging
on new purchases (so as not to create more garbage). However, I’m far from
reaching my lofty goal of producing just one plastic grocery bag’s worth of
trash per week (and one blue bag per month). On average, I fill up one small
blue bag per week.
If I don’t say so myself, I think I’ve developed
a bit of finesse when it comes to non-intrusive persuasion.
And I still don’t use paper towels, even if my guests think of them as
I use many more organic / PABA-free
toiletries and cosmetics than I did before. I use Dr. Bronner’s for hair and body, and I’m
partial to Aubrey Organics for
facial products. I must admit that I haven’t found the perfect natural
deodorant yet – I switch back and forth between Tom’s of Maine (for when I know I
won’t be doing anything strenuous) and Arm & Hammer (for when I risk
offending the people around me).
On July 11, I wrote about my rather disastrous composting
attempts. I said I’d give it another go, but my second attempt never really
got off the ground. However, I shelled out $38
last month for an 80-gallon Earth Machine (discounted by the City of Portland)
that I’ll pick up on May 11. I’m looking forward to starting afresh.
Overall, my CFLs and electricity-saving
measures have worked great.
have proved slightly dicier (is that a word?). My Portland
Water District-issued low-flow showerhead and faucet aerators are doing
their jobs (though I still haven’t worked up the willpower to take “Navy
showers”). But laundry remains my least-favorite and most environmentally
complicated chore: I do it at the non-eco-friendly Laundromat, with
eco-friendly detergent, and haven’t been hanging my clothes out to dry – but
may start that again now that the weather’s nice.
In October, I reported that if you’ve gotta drive, there
are ways to do it that could save gas and carbon emissions. While I still
try to walk as often as I can, I do find myself driving more than I should –
hopefully the sunny temps will change that pattern too. When I do drive, I try
to remember the tenets of fuel-smart driving
(but slowpoke drivers still get on my nerves).
My cats continue to
get super-green treatment. In fact, I’ve gotten greener (and, fear, meaner
– but it’s for their own good!): I keep them indoors now.
I got a live Christmas tree
which has lived on my porch since the holiday season. Honestly, I fear for its
health. I did try to handmake most gifts – which resulted in fewer people
getting presents. I’ll have to start earlier next year.
Eating less meat is
relatively easy (except when I’m drunk or hungover, when animal products seem
most appealing). I continue to try to get most of my protein from beans and
nuts, but I enjoy the occasional soy product. And the
Local strong-arm (and co-worker) Chris Gray and
I are joining a CSA!
We’re hoping to split the veggie-herb riches from Pleasant Valley Acres Farm in
Cumberland, since neither of us thinks we could consume an entire share.
I’m looking forward to the joys and challenges of cooking in-season.
I give myself a B-. I’m doing okay, but I justify lazy
choices a bit too often. However, I’ve definitely laid the groundwork for an
Earth-friendly summer, and beyond.