Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Setting Priorities: My family in 2008

Having used last week's post to sum up my family’s achievements in reducing our carbon footprint during 2007, I will continue in the January tradition by forming resolutions for 2008. This is not quite as feel-good a process as tallying up our victories. For one thing, we have made a lot of the easier (for us) changes. Most of our bulbs are CFLs, we are very conscientious about recycling, we even compost; as New Yorkers we already rely heavily on public transportation. Other potential changes— for example reducing air travel or canceling our two newspaper subscriptions—would require actions that go by the highly-charged name of “sacrifice.” Changing to CFLs and starting worm composting felt like improvements—they saved money or were interesting. Cutting our newspapers would require reading them online which I hate.

But without making specific promises that may not be met, here are some areas that I would like our family to emphasize in the coming year:

Target #1: Reduce Paper
Switch the rest of my accounts to online billing
Reduce the deluge of junk mail and catalogues
Reduce paper at work

Target #2: Food
Reduce our consumption of meat
Increase our consumption of fruit, vegetables, and legumes
Make more of an effort to get “local” food
Stop drinking bottled water
Reduce food waste

Starting with target #1, reducing paper:

At a recent Green Drinks, a monthly "meet and greet" for New Yorkers concerned about environmental issues, two people separately admitted that they do not recycle at all. Given New York's mandatory but also fairly user-friendly program, I found that somewhat disheartening--if even environmentalists can't be bothered, it is hard to see how New York is going to increase its already modest participation rates which appear stuck at about 50%.

So to encourage holdouts to begin recycling and everyone to reduce paper, Green Factoids will devote the next series of posts to facts about paper.

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