This week I would like to talk about things we can all do to “go green”…. to put some mindful effort into thinking about the things that we use, the things that we waste, and the things that we simply throw away. My personal wake up call about understanding what we humans are doing to the planet, was seeing the 2006 Al Gore feature film “An Inconvenient Truth”…. and if you haven’t seen it yet- by all means… get on it.
Whether or not you agree with all of the scientific details regarding global warming (and the debate on the facts continues take place), I think we can all agree that humankind is exerting enormous pressures on our planet. And that the future of our children and of our children’s children is dependent upon our generation making some good decisions on how we do a better job in utilizing our natural resources, and how we can create less waste.
Of course we all know that this movie has helped to lead us into a global “green movement”…. and entire industries are now being built in the areas of alternative fuels, alternative product packaging, alternative ways of farming, and the capability to reduce, reuse, and recycle. And while all of that sounds great….. and I am glad that brilliant minds are out there working on these issues….. how can I help? There is not alot that I can do to contribute to that “big picture”…. I am certainly not conducting experiments in my basement on alternative energy sources! So instead I focus on what I can do in my own home.
As a big family…… we have a big “carbon footprint”…. (taken from www.carbonfootprint.com) “A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation etc.”
It goes on to say…“1. The primary footprint is a measure of our direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels including domestic energy consumption and transportation (e.g. car and plane). We have direct control of these. 2. The secondary footprint is a measure of the indirect CO2 emissions from the whole lifecycle of products we use – those associated with their manufacture and eventual breakdown. To put it very simply – the more we buy the more emissions will be caused on our behalf.”
So not only does our large family use a lot of fossil fuels to heat and cool our home and power our car, but also to heat the water for 8 people to take hot showers, and to wash our (endless amounts of) laundry. Then factor in our secondary footprint of all of the fossil fuels used to create and package all of the foods that we eat, the clothing that we wear, the toys and electronics that entertain us….. well…. we certainly have a Bigfoot-sized footprint!
So Steve and I have put some serious thought into the small things that we can do as a family to reduce what we use, to reuse things where it makes sense, and to recycle everything that we can. And this week I will share with you some of those steps that we have put into place. We feel that not only do these small steps make a difference in our “carbon footprint”, but we also want to make sure that we are teaching our kids to care about the environment, and to think about the choices that they make that impact our environment.