I’m taking it slow and easy today. I simply want to share some of the “baby steps’ that I’ve taken lately to mend my unsustainable ways -- and some sources of inspiration that I’ve come across.Inspiration
I really enjoyed the Earth Day quotes collected by Green Living Online for the Earth Day issue of their newsletter. I thought I might include some of them in my future environmental appeal letters, to tug at the old heart strings of corporate types. I added this one by Frank Lloyd Wright to my Facebook profile: “I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” Another of my favourites is this Cree Indian proverb: “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned will we realize we cannot eat money.”Magazines
Todd Paglia, in his April 17th article titled “No More “Green”’ Issues, Please” for the Huffington Post blog, wrote about the devastation wrought by the worldwide magazine industry, and highlighted the hypocrisy of Vanity Fair’s “Green Issue,” which is printed on virgin paper pulp. I was shocked to learn that, according to Paglia’s investigations, “every year the magazine industry destroys an area the size of Rocky Mountain National Park – at an average of 1 tree per second – to print its 12 billion magazines.” Since reading that, I have avoided purchasing magazines!Paper Mail and Marketing Mailers
I have been emailing or calling companies about unwanted paper mail. I've found that it can take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes each time, depending on the efficiency of the communications tools.
MBNA Mastercard – I had been receiving paper statements from them even though I can find all of the account information I need online. To stop the paper deliveries I ended up calling them, because it wasn't easy to find the link to cancel paper statements once logged-in to the site. Sure enough, when I called, I was told where to find it. It should have been a more prominent feature – and you think it would be, considering that paper costs money.
Victoria’s Secret – I have probably received at least two dozen catalogues from them in the past three years, although the rate has been slowing down, probably because I haven’t placed an order in a long time. I received one last week, and took the opportunity to provide feedback. There was a note on the order page to the effect that they shared your information with select other companies, but if you didn’t want them to you could email them at the address provided and say so. You could also request to be taken off of their mailing list. That was easy enough to do. I received a courteous email reply the same day that included an apology for inconveniencing me.
Office Max – They sent me a 4"x5" hard plastic postcard with a detachable gift certificate! I was absolutely floored, and not polite in my response. My feedback, typed into a form field on their website, read “You sent me a plastic post-card in the mail that’s going to go straight to landfill!? What a stupid idea. Please don’t send me anything else. The courtesy of a reply is requested,” and I included my address and postal code. I haven’t received a response after three days.
Air Miles Membership – I occasionally receive paper packages containing my statement and promotional offers which I am no longer interested in. I went online today and sent them a quick email using their email application. As with Office Max, I requested a reply and have yet to receive one.
Shoppers Drug Mart – They send me alluring, full-colour, multiple page flyers about once a month. These promote their fancy cosmetic brands and tell me on what days I’ll receive bonus points for buying them. I will admit that I am tempted to look, and more often than not tempted to buy, since cosmetics are my weakness. If the flyers were printed on 100% recycled paper, I wouldn’t feel bad about receiving them, I’d just have to use my will power to resist the promotions! I used their website to send them an email requesting that they address the sustainability issue with in an email reply. I have been informed that a Customer Service Representative will contact me as soon as possible.
Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Autority (EWSWA) Enviro Tips Newsletter – I sent an email to the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority, because the Enviro Tips Newsletter that I received in the mail did not appear to be printed on recycled paper, which seemed very wrong, not to mention hypocritical. The next day I received an email reply from the Cathie Griffin, the Coordinator of Community Relations and Advertising, stating, “The paper that Enviro Tips is printed on, has been purchased specially - it is 100% recycled, with post consumer content of above 30% (old growth forest friendly) - as all of our printed pieces are. The inks that are used are vegetable based. You're right, the issue should state that - I will ensure that the next issue of Enviro Tips indicates this.” I discovered on my own that the same information plus back issues are available on the EWSWA website.
In addition to not flushing the toilet every single time I use it (my husband doesn’t mind, although I notice he is not following suit), I have started collecting the water generated by our new basement dehumidifier to flush the toilet. Our basement is very damp, and the catch basin fills up with water every day, so I pour it into a bucket and take the bucket into the downstairs bathroom. It’s enough water for one flush. I like that it’s free water. It doesn’t come from Enwin Utilities, so I hope to see a reduction on this month’s water bill. It makes me feel like a pioneer woman to collect the water each morning. Some mornings I forget, and the dehumidifier shuts off, and the basement gets moist again. I’m going to try to keep it up, though.Fossil Fuel
I have been very careful not to drive my car if I don’t need to. I walk or bike if I can, or wait until I have more than one reason for driving out in a given direction. I’m much more conservative than I used to be. The high price of gas is certainly a factor. As my husband has often said, the high price of gasoline is a good thing for the environment, in that it should motivate auto companies to invest more aggressively in efficient and non-polluting engine technologies. We hope it does.TV Shows
I watched two really good green shows last night on the Knowledge Network. The first was Big Ideas for a Small Planet, created and developed by the Sundance Channel. It featured an industrial designer named William McDonough and was very encouraging. His company, MBDC's “cradle to cradle” approach to product life cycle manufacturing looks very promising. The other show, Design: e2, created and developed by PBS, was about urban sustainability projects led by green designer/developer Jonathan Rose. The voice-over by Brad Pitt was icing on the cake. I get my television through Bell ExpressVu digital satellite, and both shows were on late, which is probably why I’ve never seen them before. Now I know they are also on between eight and nine p.m. on Thursday on the Knowledge Network.
I think that’s about it for now. My online research has led me to me into some dense documents which I am still digesting, including The Environmental Master Plan for the City of Windsor, Ontario (my hometown) and the Canadian Water Act. I hope to review both of these in future posts.