Since this column will be appearing in the middle of Rossmoor’s Earth Awareness Week, Managing Editor Maureen O’Rourke suggested that I devote the space to letting the readers know how they can contribute to the goal of living lightly on planet Earth. Although our actions are for the most part small in the big picture….as you well know….little things add up. There are many ways the average person can make his or her daily routines more eco-friendly. I will suggest a few, and then toss in some suggestions from Pope Francis.
Action One: Cut back on car use. Look for alternatives such as biking, walking or public transportation. Carpool. Combine several errands into one trip. When you are driving, brake and accelerate less; drive at a moderate speed.
Action Two: Make good food choices. In the United States, we throw out about 40 percent of our food each year. When possible, buy local food. The farmers’ markets will be open soon. Learn to love leftovers. Don’t be shy about asking for a “doggie bag.” Most restaurant meals are more food than we need and the take-home box can save you having to cook tomorrow.
Action Three: Reduce your waste. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Our local thrift stores do a great job and have lots of bargains. Their profits support good causes. Avoid disposable plastic water bottles, plates, cups and silverware. Reuse plastic sacks.
Action Four: Conserve water. Take short showers. Use low-flow shower heads. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. Wash your car with a bucket of water and not the hose.
Action Five: Save energy. Instead of turning on the heater, put on a sweater. This summer, open all of the windows each morning to cool down your home, then close up tight as the outside air heats up. Maybe you won’t need that air conditioner today. Obviously, make a habit of turning off the lights when you leave a room (that goes for Rossmoor meeting rooms, also). Unplug appliances when they aren’t needed. Give some consideration to buying solar panels or a fuel-efficient car. Have someone from Walnut Creek Saves visit your place and do an energy audit, which is a free service. Buying a new appliance? Look for the Energy Star rating.
Action Six: Give financial support to nonprofit groups working for the environment. Some to consider: the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, 350.org, Union of Concerned Scientists and Earth Justice.
Even Pope Francis is calling on his followers to help save the environment. A few of his practical tips include: 1. Transition to renewable energy resources. 2. Protect biodiversity. 3. Be aware that synthetic pesticides and herbicides will hurt birds and helpful insects. 4. Get back to nature. 5. Stop needless consumption. 6. Protect vulnerable species.
I part company with him when he says “Stop blaming problems on population growth.” But not even the pope can be expected to get everything right. Have a great Earth Awareness Week. Do your part to save our beautiful planet.
This article first appeared in the April 18, 2018 edition of the Rossmoor News. Author Bob Hanson can be emailed at doctoroutdoors@ comcast.net.