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Posts Tagged ‘simple things’

Leo Babauta of the awesome Zen Habits blog has kicked off Blog Action Day with his 50 Simple Steps that anybody can do any day to be kinder and gentler to the environment. How many are part of your standard practice already?

  1. Take a shorter shower.
  2. Use a rag or hand towel instead of napkins or paper towels.
  3. Don't print at least once today.
  4. Carpool once this week.
  5. Turn off the TV for an hour. [Was it on?! I doubt it!]
  6. Turn off the lights when you leave the room (even for a little while). [Hey, I'm a New Englander who grew up in the 70's... does anybody NOT do this one?!]
  7. Use a coffee mug instead of disposable (for takeout/coffeeshop) (Mostly, sometimes I forget to bring it!)
  8. Use CFC light bulbs.
  9. Skip the foil and plastic wrap for reusable food containers.
  10. Inflate your tires.
  11. Clean up (the beach, park, street, etc for a few minutes).
  12. Talk to your kids about the environment.
  13. Reuse printed paper.
  14. Turn down your water heater to 130F.
  15. Plant a tree.
  16. Hang out your clothes. [SRC: ok, technically not, but I'm taking credit because-- I read up on energy-saving appliances and found that apparently it's MUCH better over time to use the autodry cycle on your dryer instead of setting it manually to a time and resetting if stuff isn't dry enough; so now we do that. We're not f'ing allowed to have a clothesline here, apparently the yuppies might think "those people" had moved in if there were clotheslines. Grr.]
  17. Buy a manual reel mower or electric mower. [SRC: Better yet, get rid of your lawn, and have a garden instead; we have almost all garden or fixed landscaping (eg, mulch and weedblock around plantings). Our tiny patch of lawn, 2 foot by 10 foot, is small enough to mow with an electric weed whacker.]
  18. Get a low-flow shower head.
  19. Lower your thermostats. [SRC: in the summer, yes; in the winter, not so much, as I'm asthmatic and studies show that one's chance of catching cold or flu go up statistically for every degree below 70F while you sleep. But we have an electric radiator for the bedroom to handle this, and keep the rest of the house chilly.]
  20. Participate or organize a clean-up.
  21. Avoid fast food.
  22. Use acrylic paint (instead of oil-based).
  23. Coat your roof.
  24. Clean your filters.
  25. Telecommute.
  26. Wash clothes in cold water. [SRC: did you know that blood and other protein based stains come out in cold water but SET in warm/hot water?]
  27. Get a low-flow toilet (or make one, by putting spacers in your tank or otherwise adjusting the amount used for flushing).
  28. Buy recycled products.
  29. Recycle.
  30. Buy a smaller car.
  31. Buy a smaller home.
  32. Look for energy efficiency (in appliances).
  33. Water grass early in the morning.
  34. Plant shade trees near your house. [SRC: or, put up lattices and grow summer vines on them, like flowering scarlet runner beans, morning glories, ornamental hyacinth bean, climbing roses, etc. Runner beans or cherry tomatoes will give you a tasty bonus, as well as providing shade.]
  35. Use rechargeable batteries.
  36. Buy used.
  37. Walk instead of drive.
  38. Unplug appliances.
  39. Unload your car of all that stuff you 'forgot'.
  40. Try cycling.
  41. Install a water filter. [SRC: instead of buying bottled water; the amount of fossil fuel used to move filtered water around, and to put plastic around it, is tragic and appalling.]
  42. Use cloth shopping bags.
  43. Mend your stuff.
  44. Compost.
  45. Try mass transit.
  46. Buy in bulk.
  47. Buy durable.
  48. Use your oven less.
  49. Join a local organization.
  50. Join Blog Action Day. [SRC: here unofficially, and officially at My Bay Area Garden.]

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If you’re looking for places in walking distance of where you live, or evaluating a neighborhood to see what’s walkable, try WalkScore, a maps mashup that shows resources in an area. It’s not perfect, but it may show you things that you didn’t realize were around a corner that you hadn’t visited, like a convenience store or a bookstore.

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From Phil Agre’s excellent RRE list:

“People read here and elsewhere about digital civil liberties issues and they ask me “what can I do?”. My answer is, “pick something”. I tell them pick some a specific small issue, learn all about it, set up a Web page, make contact with others who are doing the same thing, make sure that their level of commitment is sustainable, and settle in for the long haul. The goal is to know more and last longer than the other side, spread information, make a nuisance of yourself, keep it on a low boil, don’t get burned out, and the world will slowly catch up with you.

A good example of this strategy is the following article: http://www.latimes.com/print/asection/20001228/t000123590.html

It’s about a retiree who has committed himself to the cause of public access to police records. Granted, this is a complex issue, one of those classic open-records-versus-privacy things, but one where there are plenty of clear-cut areas where the public ought to be able to get access to information that their tax money is paying to produce. Of course the cops call him a nut, complain that he’s never satisfied, etc. But I’m sure he regards such comments as the rewards of the job.

The importance of the advice to “pick something” is profound. When you first develop a concern with a political issue, your unconscious mind is telling you that you’re all alone and that it’s you against the whole world. Sure, you know about the ACLU. You read the news. But that doesn’t affect your basic belief system. What affects your basic belief system is picking an issue and then making contact with the other people who have picked issues. Once you feel yourself part of a network, and once you feel the positive energy that flows in a network of like-minded issue advocates, then your belief system will sort itself out and you’ll believe in democracy. The problem lies in the gap between your initial sense of existential isolation and your eventual hooking-up with the like-minded. I wonder how we can use the
Internet to help people bridge that gap. What if everyone who calls the ACLU could get referred to a low-overhead online institution that suits them up for combat and wires them with a hard-bitten network of allies in one minute flat? Once the news spreads through the culture that such a thing is possible, lots more people will step forward.

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