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Earth Day personal report card

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 necessities.

--    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.

--      Water-saving efforts 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 occasional hamburger.

--      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.

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