People ask me all the time, "Mike, how can I be green like you? What are some tips that you can offer me?" (Nobody in the history of all history has asked me this, ever. Nobody. But let's just pretend.) My answer is really quite simple. It's the opposite of a popular phrase of the times:
Don't live every day like it's your last one!
Morbidly boring, I know, but if we want to have any chance of ensuring that the southern third of Louisiana and the majority of Florida aren't under water by the time my kids start having kids, we need to buckle down on the choices we make. We need to really come to grips with the fact that today is not the last day we're going to be on this planet, and that the decisions we make DO matter and WILL affect the future course of things to come.
It's all about choices. So, with that, I'd like to offer up a list of choices you can make in your life that will help reduce your consumption of energy and natural resources and slow down the toll we're waging against our Earth (it's our only one, by the way, did you know that? We don't get do-overs with planets. I checked as part of my research). I am going to try to steer away from the obvious ones, like "Don't Drive an SUV", or "If you do, for the love of all that is holy, would you please carpool!?", or "Buy GE energy saving light bulbs." You already know all of this, and I don't need to berate you some more. I'd like to offer you some less traditional methods to achieve the same result. So, in no certain order, here goes:
1. Date a scientist.
It's what I'm doing! My lady friend works in the biofuel industry. Her work advances the research needed to end our dangerous dependency on oil. But, the work isn't as glorified and sexy as it might sound (does it really sound that great? You might need to get out more). So, part of my contribution to the environment is to support the sciences by supporting my science girl. I tell her things like, "You're going to make the world a better place" and, "Please pass the barbeque sauce, this chicken is a little dry." And one of those things usually encourages her to succeed at her work. I'm not sure which one, so I usually try variations of both.
2. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth.
Seriously. What phantom need does this serve? I can't even imagine how many thousands or millions of gallons of water are wasted every day, by the flowing faucet beneath the toothbrush holder. You don't need to run the water until the very end. So stop wasting water and money!
3. Pretend that your washing machine is missing its soul mate.
The essential pieces for a clothesline cost like $10. And with them, you can save a ton of money and energy by hanging your clothes to dry instead of tumbling them for 50 minutes. If you don't have a yard to hang a line, then get a clothes rack. Don't want to buy a rack? Hang things over doors. Don't have doors? Well … how do you stop people from stealing your washing machine? I hang as much of my laundry as I can. Some people don't like to, with their counter-argument being, "It makes them stiff and uncomfortable." I usually follow that up with a, "That's what she said," and the conversation tends to get awkward and it basically ends shortly thereafter. (Note: not the best use of "That's what she said", but I don't care. It's my blog).
4. Buy plants and keep them alive. And then buy them brothers and sisters!
Plants are like bizzaro humans. They breathe CO2 and exhale oxygen. We need more of these guys around, and the way that you can ensure this is to go to your local nursery (not the kind with kids), farmer's market, or even places like Home Depot or Lowes, and pick up a couple of house plants. While you're at it, pick up some for outdoors, as well. They're great for the environment, they're fun to watch grow, and they don't usually develop personality disorders. Win-win-win! At home, I keep no less than 7 indoor plants and at least 2 outdoor plants at all times. I keep one at my desk at work as well. That's a total of 10. Not a requisite number, but it's better than 9.
5. Own a dog.
This has no real effect on the environment, but I feel like everyone should own a dog. There are over 9 million dogs euthanized in the U.S. every year. Sad face. There's got to be something un-environmental about that many dead things. But, moreover, having a dog will force you to spend time outdoors (unless you're like my neighbors who just leave their dog outside and ignore it. They're going to pet-owner's hell) and by being outdoors you will realize that this planet is a place you want to save, so that generations down the line can enjoy living with their dogs without having to wear biohazard masks every time they step outside. I don't know what possible scenario that would fall under; I just wanted to use some scare tactics. Didn't turn out too well. I could never work in politics.
I'm just a guy trying to live in this world the right way. I think that we as people need to be cognizant of the things that we do and the effect it has on the environment around us. I know I'm not alone, but I'm also aware that I'm still in the minority. We have a situation in the U.S. where electable candidates are forced to shy away from being truly environmental, due to their loyalties and obligations to the economy, industry, and the forces of evil. I always vote for the greenest candidate I can justify voting for, but in reality, that isn't going to get us very far. We have to take environmental issues into our own hands, and you can start by trying out any of the five suggestions I've made above.
Did you know that laughing doesn't contribute to global warming? It's true! With that in mind, check out this clip from a performance by Chris Porter, a contestant from Season 4 of Last Comic Standing, for his opinions on how we can lower gas prices. (Slightly NSFW, but it aired on NBC in primetime, so use that as your barometer). Enjoy!
Video Producer, NBC.com