Posts Tagged ‘information’

Is it green or not? That’s all I want to know. No in between, no nuances. Give it to me straight, so that my simple mind can get it. If it is not quite accurate, that’s ok. Better a simplistic answer that will get me moving, than an accurate one that leaves me wondering what to do next. I am looking for a place where I can find easy, practical answers, not comparative essays. Most of us know there is a big problem. Most of us are willing to do something about it. Next comes the difficult part. What to do? I yet have to find that one magical site on the Internet, that gives me all the answers I need. If you know of one, please drop a note, so that we can share it. And if I get desperate enough, who knows, I may just create such a place.

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Karen‘s response is worth highlighting I think, as it raises a key question, not just for me, but many others as well:

i guess it’s not really what to do re: the dishes, but more the how does one small act make a difference in either the short or long of it. The media has turned going green or being green into a churn that has created concern, awareness and for some action – even if that action looks like switching to cloth napkins or turning off the lights. We all can do more to do our part. This message is now clear. It has also created stress, or wonder to the point of panic or a feeling of being overwhelmed. She was asking how do we know or where do we find out if what we are doing even helps at all ??? Sortof like proove it. The question was more about should I do dishes by hand for the rest of my life or will a year begin to see impact and how will I know if that one act even makes a dent in it ?? She wants to do the stuff that counts without being like no impact man!!

If we are going to go through all that trouble, it better be worthwhile. Also, it is a matter of placing one’s energy on the right things. An essential part of sustainable development, is helping people figure out what behavioral changes they can sustain over the long run. As I write this I can hear the ubergreenies out there. Everything counts, just do it. The problem is I am just a Green Girl Wannabe, and I represent the majority of America.

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My blogger friend Karen sent me this mail:

At lunch today with a friend – a great friend, you and several of the other blogs I have been reading ( hello by the way !) came up. I was trying to say how they made me feel. She in her wonderful probing way asked this great question — how do we know like REALLY know that the things we are all beginning to worry about really makes any difference at all?? The example she used was the dishwasher – she knows it uses hot water, and energy to run – she and her husband as a retired couple might run it FULL every 3 days and she feels good about that part. Yet she thought to herself should I skip the dishwasher all together? Would washing by hand make a difference? How much of a difference ? Does she have to do dishes by hand the rest of her life to make a difference or would a year of hand washing help? So then she asked where do you go to find out WHICH things make the MOST impact ? and WHY? And in how long ?? I had no idea how to answer that? She marvels at all the green posturing – very similar to me – green catering – using organics is not green – it’s alternative – ugh – in premise it’s pesticide free but that’s not green that’s organic —or is it ?? We were laughing so hard. Anyway I thought with all your resources that maybe you might know.

While I feel flattered by Karen’s confidence in my green knowledge, the truth is, I don’t have an answer for her. Green Guru would probably know, but he is still sleeping.

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It would be nice if I could place my individual actions within the larger context of climate change. How much do they each contribute, percentage wise, to greenhouse gas emissions? Activities such as: using the dryer, driving my car, eating meat, taking showers, flushing the toilet, using disposable plastic bags for groceries. I tried googling all the combinations I could think of, without much results. I found information on personal and family carbon footprint calculators, lists of recommended actions, general articles, but not the kind of meaningful data I was looking for. After several hours, I gave up.

It is true that I could adhere blindly to the list of recommended actions. I could just become a poster green girl, if I set my mind to it. I could, but I am not there yet. For each change in my behavior, each effort I will put in, I need to understand the net impact. Going back to the dryer example, what is the percentage of greenhouse gases generated as a result of dryer use in the US, and conversely what would be saved if we all went back to the old clothesline of my grandmother? I want to research this some more.

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