I once considered writing a book about green living. This was back about 1997. There were already lots of books about this, so I don’t know what I was thinking. There are even more such books now, most of them ignored by the majority of Americans, though that may soon change.
Here are some of the ideas I had accumulated. They all seem pretty trivial, but if millions of people do them, they start to add up.
- Tear paper towels in half (with, not against, the fibers) and just use half. Or buy a kind of paper towels that has short segments.
- Plan your car trips around town efficiently, without having to backtrack (and preferably with more right turns than stressful left turns). You will use less gas, save time, and experience less stress.
- If you must install new shingles on your roof, choose as light a color as you can. It may not be cost-effective to replace a roof that is in good shape just to make it reflect more light, and the new roof and its installation might use more energy than you would save, besides the money.
- Raising and processing chickens uses a lot less fossil fuel energy than beef. Chicken, besides being cheap and better for you, saves the Earth some energy. So, eat more chicken. In general, eat less meat. Use meat to promote your meal, rather than as the basis of it. Some people become vegetarians, but if you don’t, you can at least help out the Earth a little bit. [Warning: In Oklahoma, the State House just passed a resolution (March 2021) calling on everyone to eat as much meat as possible.]
- Try to seek out situations for quiet contentment. You will be happier, and you will spend less money and use less energy than would a constant pursuit of entertainment.
- When you print something from a website, copy and paste just the part you want into a word processor. You can adjust the spacing and font this way, rather than printing out all the extra stuff that web pages always have. Best of all, don’t print it at all.
This is just a very short list. The point is that you can think of all kinds of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. You don’t need any lists from me. The above list is just meant to provoke your creativity. You can find things that are cheap and easy—the proverbial low-hanging fruit. Make sure it is something you will enjoy doing, and therefore keep doing. Learn to enjoy the flavor of small bits of meat rather than big mouthfuls of it. You might even like it better that way. If you can’t stand jogging, just take a walk. Maybe even walk or bike to work.
Most of all, don’t do something without thinking about it first.
- Some people think they will become less dependent on fossil fuels, for example the diesel used for transporting food, by raising their own chickens. That’s great, if you know how to do it, but it could quickly become a comedy of errors. Don’t get me started on roosters.
- Also, I have tried printing double-sided. It usually doesn’t work unless the printer is specially built for this. Instead, I reuse old paper with blank backsides by manual feed. I still have a stack of one-sided sheets left over from previous decades.
By doing any or all of the things on your list, you are making yourself unpatriotic, in the eyes of some. Most corporations want you to waste energy and materials. Oil companies don’t want you to drive less or drive small cars. The hospitality industry does not want you to stay home. Above all, corporations do not want you to stay home and read or write, thus enhancing your critical thinking skills, which will allow you to see through their misleading advertising claims. We have known ever since the late 1950s when Vance Packard wrote The Waste Makers and The Hidden Persuaders that corporations specifically manipulate customers into buying too much, and wasting it.
But the America of the future needs environmental patriotism. Posterity, whom you will never meet, will thank you for it.