Monday, October 15, 2007

What do you do to lessen your environmental footprint?

This morning the dog and I were on our daily run, and I felt a bit of a twinge in my back, which I decided to ignore since I would like to accept Dr. John E Sarno’s contention that many of us store our stress in our backs, and we have pain because we expect to have pain and we shouldn’t allow our minds to get in the way of activities we enjoy. But it did take me back many years, in my mind, to the first time I ever experienced back pain. I was 15 years old and living with my family in Princeton, NJ for a year as my father had a sabbatical at the Institute for Advanced Study. There was a new community recycling program and it was supported by volunteers. Glass bottles actually had to be crushed and that was my job for the morning – lifting a very heavy iron crushing implement to smash the bottles. It was a bit much for me – I don’t know what I weighed at the time but probably in the neighborhood of 80 lbs – and I wrenched a muscle and could scarcely move for the next couple of days. Ever since then, back pain has been an unpredictable visitor, striking when I least expect it. But it never soured me on recycling!

All of this reminded me that today is Blog Action Day, wherein bloggers everywhere are urged to write about the environment - so here I am. Reducing waste and reducing the number of times I have to drive my car are priorities for me. My bicycle has two big baskets so modest trips to the grocery store can be done with the bike. And I always take my canvas bags with me so I can avoid using the disposable bags that the store gives away.

More and more, the large local supermarkets around here are offering reusable bags for sale. This is laudable, but I think the stores could take this a huge step further: they could discontinue the practise of giving bags away. In Europe everybody carries bags with them to the grocery store. If they forget, they’re out of luck, so guess what? They don’t forget. Americans need to get into this habit too. Another thing I would like to see at grocery stores: large bike racks. The store where I shop most frequently has a bike rack and it’s often full. How about this: when you lock up your bike, a store employee gives you a special token. You show the token to the cashier and get 2% off on your grocery bill. In order to free up an employee to hand out tokens (unless you can think of another way of dispensing the tokens ONLY to bicyclists), the stores could have special racks for their grocery carts – you would have to put in a $1 coin to get a cart, and when you return the cart you’d get your coin back. That way employees wouldn’t have to spend any time chasing after carts. This is also a European practise. We would need to have $1 coins in frequent circulation, that’s all.

Do you think you could deal with taking your own bags with you when you go shopping? Do you already do it? And if you already use disposable grocery bags at home for other purposes – maybe you could design a washable, reusable bag to serve the same purpose and sell it on the internet. Getting rid of plastic grocery bags could open up all kinds of business niches!

What do you do that's "green"?

Last year I offered a 20% “green discount” on voice-overs to businesses that are environmentally friendly. That offer still holds. Just ask.

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