Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Going Even a Little Green Is Still Green

Believe it or not, one of the most sensible philosophies about "going green" that I've ever heard came from none other than Alicia Silverstone. That's right, that Alicia Siverstone, as in Cher Horowitz of Clueless fame. In a radio interview last year, she encouraged folks to start going green by making whatever small efforts they could. It doesn't have to be a grand overhaul to your entire life -- you don't need to suddenly trade in your Land Rover for a Prius, give away all your leather shoes, belts, and bags, and start composting in your kitchen. Instead start small: even if we make just one change, we're doing good. She said, and I agree, that so many people feel daunted by all the steps one can take that they don't do anything at all. Folks think that in order to save the environment we have to do it all: stop using plastic bags, recycle everything, bike to work, use natural cleaning agents, etc. But, even if we just do one thing, like using cloth totes for our groceries, we're doing more than we were previously, and it's another step toward saving the planet.

I really like that approach -- it's enabling. And, I think that once you take a single step and incorporate it into your life, it's easy to add new planet-saving practices to your life. Take recycling, for instance. I remember when municipalities all over the U.S. started incorporating recycling programs into their waste management systems. It was so confusing at the time and seemed like such an extra effort. But now it's such a second-nature thing for so many of us. I think that a lot of the efforts to go green can be that way. In our home, we've switched most of our light bulbs over to CFLs, continue to recycle, bring our own re-usable bags to the grocery store, limit our water usage, eat sustainable seafood, have moved toward fewer plastic toys, and have replaced all of our wood-burning fireplaces. I think the most important thing we're doing is trying to impart these values to our daughters.

Between today and the next Earth Day, I am going to try to add a few more habits to our repertoire of planet-saving practices. To make success realistic, I am going to concentrate on just a few things that I think I can reasonably accomplish:

-- Make a greater effort to eat locally grown foods
-- Find non-toxic alternatives to my home cleaners
-- Grow at least two different vegetables at home
-- Cut down my family's meat consumption

Listen, I am definitely not the "greenest" person I know. I'll probably never stop wearing leather. And unless Kate Spade starts using it, you'll likely never catch me in anything hemp. And I love my SUV. But, I can make an effort to save the planet in lots of other ways -- and that's really the whole point. We should all be making some efforts; and as we begin make some changes, we'll find it even easier to make more. You don't have to do it all at once to start making an impact. Hell, you might even find me elbow deep in a compost pile one day. Alicia Silverstone would be so proud.

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