Shrink Your Ecological Footprint
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Everybody knows how big his actual footprint is, but until a friend sent me the link to http:/
But it's not all doom and gloom. While downsizing an actual footprint requires amputation, an ecological footprint is much easier to modify. "We all have the power to make changes happen . . . when each of us do it, collectively we have a significant impact on the environment," says Monique Tilford, acting executive director of the Center for the New American Dream, a Takoma Park-based environmental advocacy group. Here are eight ways to start acting locally for a global impact.
Heidi Ridgley, a senior editor for the environmental nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, wasn't sure what to do with her eco-friendly bug killer after she moved from a roach-infested apartment in Adams Morgan to a pest-free rowhouse in Columbia Heights. So she offered it up on the Freecycle Network. "People crawled out of the woodwork to [claim] it," she jokes.
Started in Tucson in 2003, the Freecycle Network is an international collection of free listservs aimed at reducing landfill waste by making one person's trash another person's treasure.
"I discovered Freecycle while redoing my front porch last summer," Ridgley says. "I had perfectly reusable deck wood that I didn't need anymore, and a neighbor told me Freecycle would ensure it wouldn't get sent to a landfill." With more than 9,300 local members, FreecycleDC ( http:/
GET RID OF JUNK MAIL
The average American receives 41 pounds of junk mail a year, according to the Center for the Development of Recycling. And 44 percent of that winds up in a landfill unopened (for me, the rest clutters up the kitchen table). Though the tide of junk mail may seem overwhelming, Tilford says that it's possible to shut it off. "Companies are required by law to take you off a mailing list if you request that," she says. A good place to start is by contacting the Direct Marketing Association to request your name be placed on a "do-not-mail" file. (This request can be made for free via postcard, or for $5 on DMA's Web site, http:/
BE GREEN WHEN YOU CLEAN
Labels on typical household cleaners can be a bit troubling -- with warnings of "irreversible eye damage" and "skin burns." Being clean can sound, well, a little dirty. But fear not. Mindy Pennybacker, the editor of the Green Guide, an environmental and health newsletter, says most of her readers report finding "alternative cleaning products that work just as well as conventional cleaners." In other words, being green and being clean can go hand in hand. To find eco-friendly cleaners, the Green Guide ( http:/
CHANGE YOUR LIGHT BULBS
Question: How many years does it take an environmentalist to change a light bulb? Answer: Seven, but only if he's using energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Though slightly more expensive, low-mercury CFL bulbs use less energy and last longer than standard light bulbs. Replace four standard bulbs with the CFL ones, and you'll prevent the emission of 5,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over the life of the bulbs, according to the Center for the New American Dream. The center, which has a "Turn the Tide" campaign ( http:/