The world is in transition—either burning or flooding. This summer has been especially bad in too many places. Clif and I have decided to take action in our own small way. Being two green beans for a long time, we have always aimed to live lightly, and by American standards, we have a modest lifestyle. For many years, we have been a one-car family, very unusual in this country. We limit our driving. We don’t fly. We recycle. We don’t use plastic straws, at least not most of the time.
But that’s the low-hanging fruit.
To continue with the metaphor, the higher up you go, the harder it gets.
In short, it’s not easy being green, and it would be remiss of me not to write about this issue. Every person has a different situation, and what’s hard for us might not be hard for you, but I suspect there is enough overlap so that our problems are common to many.
But never fear, I have also included possible solutions to our problems.
Item One: Being green is more expensive. Local, organic food costs more, and ditto for electric cars and bikes. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Clif and I have a budget that’s as big as a minute, and we have to be careful not only with our nickles and dimes, but also with our pennies. For us, this is a large obstacle that must be dealt with creatively.
Solution: Lucky for me, I can cook. I am not a gourmet chef by any means, but I’m a good home cook who has mastered the basics. My immediate plan is to bake from scratch—even more than I do now—so that most of our bread and other goodies come from my kitchen.
Item Two: We live in a world of packaging. The next time you go grocery shopping, take a good look at what’s in your cart. Note the boxes, the plastic, the foil, and various other wrappings. Cereal, milk, cheese, butter, eggs. Shampoo. Laundry detergent. Everything comes in a package and must either be discarded or recycled. And now that China is no longer accepting much of our plastic trash, recycling has gotten more difficult.
Possible solution: We will be making a greater effort to buy food that isn’t packaged. Not too far from where we live is the Gardiner Co-op. They sell bulk items and will let customers bring in their own containers. We will be giving this a shot very soon. I also plan to check with Hannaford to see if they will let us use our own containers for bulk items.
Item Three: Being green is not convenient. Or, we want to go where we want to go, and in this country, for most of us, that involves driving. You want to go to a movie? Get in your car. Visit with friends and family? Get in your car. Go shopping? Travel? Get in your car, or even worse, fly. This is a very tough nut for Clif and I to crack. The town we live in—Winthrop—is beautiful but not exactly dynamic when it comes to anything cultural. We do have museums, cinemas, and theaters in nearby towns, but going to any of things involves driving as we don’t have much in the way of public transportation.
Short term solution: Bike as much as we can and limit our driving. Longer term solution: We would like to buy an electric car, and every year, the technology improves. But even then, we need to be mindful about how much energy we use.
There. That’s enough for now. I’d love to hear from all of you about your problems with being green and your solutions.
36 thoughts on “Part Two: It’s Not Easy Being Green”
It is a huge complex problem, but there are things each of us can do. Reading ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ in 2006 was a game changer for me. Gore’s followup, ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ offers some hope through positive actions we can take. While our current admin and Congress aren’t doing much, the private sector is stepping up.
Sure is! I haven’t seen the Gore’s sequel, and I think I’ll request via Interlibrary loan. Gore was mocked by so many when his first movie came out. Oh, the sea will never rise that much, said the scoffers. Well, looks like Gore will be getting the last laugh.
He works hard and tirelessly for the planet and it is a pity he gets so much scorn. Too many haters out there. 😦
Yes. He is one of my heroes.
We’re a step behind you. We’ve changed our light bulbs to leds, take short showers, run the dishwasher only when full, do only 3 loads of laundry a week, try to limit packaged processed foods, keep the heat down to 65 in the winter, reuse plastic items, use cloth bags at the grocery store, shut off the water when brushing teeth, buy local whenever possible, and run errands in one trip. We replaced our furnace with one that saves us over $600. in oil a year, tightened up our house by re -siding, put in lots of gardens to remove lawn space and increase the number of oxygen enhancing trees and shrubs, use no chemicals in the yard, and feed the birds. But we have two cars, drink lots of bottled water, and don’t hang laundry on a clothesline. Hoping the little things will add up and make a difference!
I’m not sure you are behind us because we have not tightened up our house or replaced our furnace. These things make a huge difference.
I like all your ideas. I too had been thinking of baking more of my own bread products and perhaps making my own yogurt. The last time I bought something at the deli counter at our Hannafords, I asked if it could be wrapped in freezer paper instead of plastic. They said it would have to go through the Deli manager who was not there. I haven’t called yet, but now I will. I am willing to bring my own freezer paper!
Interesting story. In a blog I’ve been following, the writer brings Tupperware containers to the meat counter. I bet that would throw the workers at your Hannaford. If you make yogurt, let me know how it comes out. I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing.
good for you. love hearing your ideas and solutions-if we all did just a little . . . great post.
Many thanks! And if you have any suggestions, please chime in.
Most impressive, would that more were like you including me and flying though I don’t have a car.
Because you don’t have a car, I expect your carbon footprint is very low. Lower than ours, I bet.
Please tell me what you can buy at Hanford that you can put in your own containers? I am really interested in that. We have always kept the heat cooler and the A/C warmer than we use to, have replaced all the bulbs, lower and raise the shades depending upon the sun, and change the thermostat if we are going to be gone several hours. We had insulation blown in maybe two years ago and are going to have some more put in. We recycle everything, and I mean everything. The recycling center is only about ten minutes from here so I go at least once a week. I do not hang wash out on a line, but I hang things up before they are fully dry. We also combine errands and travel accordingly. I will fully admit we have two vehicles because one is a truck which can haul all that stuff to recycling. 🙂
You are way ahead of us with insulation. I expect that with all the gardening you do, a truck is very useful As for Hannaford…the one in town and the one in Augusta have a bulk food section. It’s not extensive, but it is there. Yesterday, at our store in Winthrop, I asked about bringing our own containers for the bulk food. I’ll be addressing that in today’s post. 😉
The hardest thing will be cutting down on computer use. The servers from the big tech companies use massive amounts of electricity and blockchain tech is far more energy intensive still.
Yes, very hard to cut down on computer usage. I will say that our power usage has declined a bit, even though we use our computers a lot. Converting to LED lights made a noticeable difference as has only using the clothes dryer when we absolutely have to. Still, it’s important to be mindful about all energy use. The lower we go, the better for the planet.
Being old makes us use the heating more than we used to in the winter.
Yes, Clif and I are the same way.
I was really interested to read the above comment about block chain tech .. On a smaller scale I worked in a school where the principal insisted all computers were switched off at the end of the day… She couldn’t believe how much she saved for the school budget.
Bravo! Very wasteful to leave the computers all at night when no one is using them.
It’s a great start! We all need to do what we can . . . will it be enough?
I don’t know. But I can’t just give up. What if we can turn the tide? What if we can make a difference?
Sound philosophy – sound advice. Jackie is so good at buying sensibly and wasting nothing
Yay, Jackie! If she has any tips, please pass them along. Never too old to learn!
It sounds as if you have made a great start Laurie and when everyone brings their own containers to the shops it will make a huge difference. Many coffee chains and cafes here encourage you to bring your own cup for takeaway coffee and will give you a discount when you do so. All through the Summer visitors leave rubbish on our beaches despite all the bins we have. We have regular voluntary community litter picks and one local cafe offering free ice cream to anyone picking up a bag of litter at any given time 🙂💖 xxx
Those summer visitors! Sigh. But good for that local cafe. Onward, ho!
Wonderful post and thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas! We have replaced many items in our house with energy efficient products and appliances and one item that I would definitely like to improve on is to reduce all the packaging. We’ve always recycled, but there is so much we could improve on.
It is unbelievable how much packaging there is. Quite a challenge to make a significant reduction, but I am going to give it my all
We were given energy-efficient bulbs 25 years ago when they introduced them at work – our electricity bill dropped by about 25%. Good for us, good for the planet. However, you remind me that I must do better.
That’s great about your electricity bill! As I embark on my green journey, I am finding that it is a lot of work. I think that’s why a lot of people don’t live in a more sustainable way. It takes great effort.
We have just drifted into a way of life dictated by shops, town planners and fast food outlets. It takes an effort to break out and do the right thing. I am drawing strength from your example.
Oh, thanks! Onward, ho!
Thanks, Quercus! So nice to read.
My pleasure. 🙂
I love this effort! I know I can do more in our household to reduce our waste…something I need to actively tackle. (We already recycle most materials but it’s the reducing that I struggle with). You’ve inspired me!
Thank you so much for the support. It really isn’t easy, and at times I feel as though I am swimming against the tide. But the heat this summer has convinced me that I must make a greater effort. And so I am.
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