alt text needed

Saint Anthony Messenger Editorial: It’s Easy Being Green

It’s Easy Being Green

Before you disregard this as some environmental guilt trip, let me confess something upfront: until recently, my carbon footprint was roughly the size of Wisconsin.

The carbon footprint, for the curious, is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from the consumption of fossil fuels by an individual, group, or corporation. And trust me: my carbon footprint was huge. It never dawned on me to combine trips. I was habitually unfaithful to recycling. And you could gift wrap the George Washington Bridge with the number of plastic bags I tore through in a month.

Then, earlier this year, I watched a startling documentary called No Impact Man about Colin Beaven, a writer in New York City who, with his wife and child, lived for a year
without making an impact on the environment. The Beavens lived with no public transportation or electricity, ate only locally grown food, and composted in their tiny living room. Washing their clothes involved rainwater and homemade detergent. For 12 months their televisions, laptops, iPods, and smartphones went untouched.

Could I make such a drastic lifestyle change? Not on your life. There’s television to be watched. But the family’s experiment shed a light on how I lived and forced me to face
my growing carbon footprint.

Fast Facts

If you think the crisis is overblown, think again. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2010, Americans produced about 250 million tons of waste, or
4.3 pounds of waste per person per day. More bad news from the EPA:
? Each year almost 900 million trees are cut down for American paper mills.
? Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam® cups yearly. Five hundred years from now, the cup you used this morning will still be parked in a landfill.
? In 2008, the United States buried or burned more than 166 million tons of resources: paper, plastic, metals, and glass.

Alarming, yes, but only if you believe this to be an unfixable problem. It isn’t.

Start Small

So what’s the answer? Should we all rush out and buy hybrid cars? That’s not cost-efficient for everybody. Bike to work? Distance sometimes forbids it. What we can do is reevaluate our lifestyles, making smaller changes that could offset bigger problems.

Here are some relatively pain-free changes:

Rethink clean. Household cleaners often contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and our health. So make your own! In a Mason jar, combine vinegar with
orange or lemon peels and seal it for 10 days. It’s effective, environmentally safe, and healthier.

Shop smart. Invest in reusable grocery bags. Some 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year, and only 2 percent of them are recycled.

Disconnect. Unplug appliances that are not in use.

Hydrate differently. Using a water filter affixed to your faucet instead of buying bottled water reduces container waste.

See the light. Replacing your usual lightbulb with a fluorescent one can save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Chill out. Wash clothes in cold water as often as possible. About 85 percent of the energy for washing clothes goes to heating the water.

Be an easy rider. Save gas and lower fuel emissions by carpooling to work with colleagues.

Stay in the ‘hood. Buying your food locally revitalizes the community while reducing long-distance transportation.

The key is this: think smaller. We don’t have to join Greenpeace to save our planet. Sometimes surveying our lifestyles and making simple changes can do a world of good and do good for the world.

Forward Thinking

The environment has friends in high places. Pope Benedict XVI—never shy about his concerns for this issue—said in a message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace in 2010: “We are all responsib

It’s Easy Being Green

Before you disregard this as some environmental guilt trip, let me confess something upfront: until recently, my carbon footprint was roughly the size of Wisconsin.

The carbon footprint, for the curious, is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from the consumption of fossil fuels by an individual, group, or corporation. And trust me: my carbon footprint was huge. It never dawned on me to combine trips. I was habitually unfaithful to recycling. And you could gift wrap the George Washington Bridge with the number of plastic bags I tore through in a month.

Then, earlier this year, I watched a startling documentary called No Impact Man about Colin Beaven, a writer in New York City who, with his wife and child, lived for a year
without making an impact on the environment. The Beavens lived with no public transportation or electricity, ate only locally grown food, and composted in their tiny living room. Washing their clothes involved rainwater and homemade detergent. For 12 months their televisions, laptops, iPods, and smartphones went untouched.

Could I make such a drastic lifestyle change? Not on your life. There’s television to be watched. But the family’s experiment shed a light on how I lived and forced me to face
my growing carbon footprint.

Fast Facts

If you think the crisis is overblown, think again. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2010, Americans produced about 250 million tons of waste, or
4.3 pounds of waste per person per day. More bad news from the EPA:
? Each year almost 900 million trees are cut down for American paper mills.
? Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam® cups yearly. Five hundred years from now, the cup you used this morning will still be parked in a landfill.
? In 2008, the United States buried or burned more than 166 million tons of resources: paper, plastic, metals, and glass.

Alarming, yes, but only if you believe this to be an unfixable problem. It isn’t.

Start Small

So what’s the answer? Should we all rush out and buy hybrid cars? That’s not cost-efficient for everybody. Bike to work? Distance sometimes forbids it. What we can do is reevaluate our lifestyles, making smaller changes that could offset bigger problems.

Here are some relatively pain-free changes:

Rethink clean. Household cleaners often contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and our health. So make your own! In a Mason jar, combine vinegar with
orange or lemon peels and seal it for 10 days. It’s effective, environmentally safe, and healthier.

Shop smart. Invest in reusable grocery bags. Some 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year, and only 2 percent of them are recycled.

Disconnect. Unplug appliances that are not in use.

Hydrate differently. Using a water filter affixed to your faucet instead of buying bottled water reduces container waste.

See the light. Replacing your usual lightbulb with a fluorescent one can save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Chill out. Wash clothes in cold water as often as possible. About 85 percent of the energy for washing clothes goes to heating the water.

Be an easy rider. Save gas and lower fuel emissions by carpooling to work with colleagues.

Stay in the ‘hood. Buying your food locally revitalizes the community while reducing long-distance transportation.

The key is this: think smaller. We don’t have to join Greenpeace to save our planet. Sometimes surveying our lifestyles and making simple changes can do a world of good and do good for the world.

Forward Thinking

The environment has friends in high places. Pope Benedict XVI—never shy about his concerns for this issue—said in a message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace in 2010: “We are all responsib

It’s Easy Being Green

Before you disregard this as some environmental guilt trip, let me confess something upfront: until recently, my carbon footprint was roughly the size of Wisconsin.

The carbon footprint, for the curious, is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from the consumption of fossil fuels by an individual, group, or corporation. And trust me: my carbon footprint was huge. It never dawned on me to combine trips. I was habitually unfaithful to recycling. And you could gift wrap the George Washington Bridge with the number of plastic bags I tore through in a month.

Then, earlier this year, I watched a startling documentary called No Impact Man about Colin Beaven, a writer in New York City who, with his wife and child, lived for a year
without making an impact on the environment. The Beavens lived with no public transportation or electricity, ate only locally grown food, and composted in their tiny living room. Washing their clothes involved rainwater and homemade detergent. For 12 months their televisions, laptops, iPods, and smartphones went untouched.

Could I make such a drastic lifestyle change? Not on your life. There’s television to be watched. But the family’s experiment shed a light on how I lived and forced me to face
my growing carbon footprint.

Fast Facts

If you think the crisis is overblown, think again. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2010, Americans produced about 250 million tons of waste, or
4.3 pounds of waste per person per day. More bad news from the EPA:
Each year almost 900 million trees are cut down for American paper mills.
? Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam® cups yearly. Five hundred years from now, the cup you used this morning will still be parked in a landfill.
? In 2008, the United States buried or burned more than 166 million tons of resources: paper, plastic, metals, and glass.

Alarming, yes, but only if you believe this to be an unfixable problem. It isn’t.

Start Small

So what’s the answer? Should we all rush out and buy hybrid cars? That’s not cost-efficient for everybody. Bike to work? Distance sometimes forbids it. What we can do is reevaluate our lifestyles, making smaller changes that could offset bigger problems.

Here are some relatively pain-free changes:

Rethink clean. Household cleaners often contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and our health. So make your own! In a Mason jar, combine vinegar with
orange or lemon peels and seal it for 10 days. It’s effective, environmentally safe, and healthier.

Shop smart. Invest in reusable grocery bags. Some 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year, and only 2 percent of them are recycled.

Disconnect. Unplug appliances that are not in use.

Hydrate differently. Using a water filter affixed to your faucet instead of buying bottled water reduces container waste.

See the light. Replacing your usual lightbulb with a fluorescent one can save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Chill out. Wash clothes in cold water as often as possible. About 85 percent of the energy for washing clothes goes to heating the water.

Be an easy rider. Save gas and lower fuel emissions by carpooling to work with colleagues.

Stay in the ‘hood. Buying your food locally revitalizes the community while reducing long-distance transportation.

The key is this: think smaller. We don’t have to join Greenpeace to save our planet. Sometimes surveying our lifestyles and making simple changes can do a world of good and do good for the world.

Forward Thinking

The environment has friends in high places. Pope Benedict XVI—never shy about his concerns for this issue—said in a message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace in 2010: “We are all responsible