Some Notes on the Environment

This post was written for Blog Action Day, in which a group of bloggers are all posting on environmental topics on the same day.

I’ve written several times in the past about environmental issues and saving money:

The Green Dollar
Conserve Energy, Save Money, Save The World
Prosperity and the Planet
42 Ways Going Green Saves a Ton of Money

If you want specific tips on how to simultaneously save money and also help the environment, all of those articles will point you in the right direction.

In fact, this article started off along those same lines, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized just listing environment saving frugality tips probably wouldn’t make much of a difference. Honestly, repeating the talking points from An Inconvenient Truth won’t make much difference, either – almost all of you have already heard this stuff and have already made up your minds about it.

Instead, I thought I’d tell why I, a person pretty devoted to the idea of free market capitalism and largely opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency, am rather green in my beliefs and actions and what I’m actually doing to make a difference. And, no, it’s far different than just changing a light bulb.

If you read The Simple Dollar for money stuff, just bear with me here, we’ll get around to it.

Why I Care About The Environment

The reason is simple.

My son is almost two, and he loves to run around in our back yard barefoot. We have thick grass that we allow to grow rather high. I go out there barefooted myself quite often to play with him – there’s nothing like the feeling of a few inches of grass under your toes, squishing beneath them, as you run around.

It was an experience that I had in childhood, and also that my father had in his childhood – we’ve talked about it before.

It’s an experience that I want to exist for my own children, and their children, and their children. I want them to have big leafy trees to climb and thick grass under their toes. I want them to be able to breathe in big mouthfuls of fresh air. I want there to be places where you can open windows on opposite sides of the house and have the wind blow through. I want there to be rain clean enough that they can stand in the yard, looking up with their mouths open catching raindrops. I want there to be clean, abundant snow in the north so that children can make snowmen.

This isn’t just for my own children and grandchildren, it’s something I want for every child out there.

What I’m Doing About It

windmillHonestly, I’m not that concerned about the global environment. I’ll gladly support candidates who make what I consider to be sensible choices about large-scale environmental concerns, but for the most part, there’s not much I can do. What I worry more about is the environment that I can control, the local area.

1. I try to do things that reduce my footprint

This almost always ties into increasing my gas mileage and reducing my home’s energy use. I also dream about things like a wind turbine at home for the eventual day when we move to a place deep in the country. I usually try to minimize our garbage output, and a big step in that direction is in the form of cooking at home, eating as many leftovers as possible, and utilizing our composting bin for many food wastes. We try to minimize our own possessions if at all possible for the same reason – less stuff, less overall footprint on the environment (this is the best argument of all to battle my wife’s pack-rat tendencies). I also focus strongly on reliability and energy efficiency for appliance purchases – I’d far rather pay a lot more up front to not replace my appliance very often and have it eat only a small amount of energy. Almost all of these things not only help with environmental issues, but they also save money, especially in the long run.

2. I follow hobbies that help

For example, we have a boxed garden ready to go for next spring and a compost bin that’s almost finished with a batch of compost to spread on it. Growing our own vegetables serves several purposes – it absorbs CO2 and produces oxygen, it allows us to eat these vegetables and thus reduces the need to transport them, and we also do things organically (hence the compost) so we don’t add unneeded chemicals to the system. This isn’t efficient in terms of time spent versus food produced, but it’s a hobby that is productive that we both enjoy.

3. I make small moves to keep the local area clean

I often pick up trash when we’re walking with our kids and make sure it finds its way to a trash receptacle. We are very open about sharing with neighbors so that there are fewer unneeded things littering people’s garages and homes.

These are all small things, but they all add up to a better future. The more people committed to little things like this in their lives, the better shape the environment will be in for our children and generations to come.

To me, it’s not a global commitment. It’s a commitment that begins and ends with me. I waste stuff all the time, but how can I minimize that waste so that my grandchildren have fewer mistakes of mine to deal with? It’s a challenge to me and the way I live that’s far more relevant than An Inconvenient Truth.

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