Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Paper or plastic? Neither.

“We just want to know what we can do!” said John after telling me he was seeing a lot on sustainability in the media. In this, I think John is like many people today: they know we’ve got serious environmental, social and economic problems and they want to help resolve them. But what does that look like?
  • Conserve, conserve, conserve! Conservation is the most important thing we can do collectively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Bring your own reusable bags to stores.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs, a.k.a. CFLs. Replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs. It may seem wasteful to toss a good light bulb, but making the change makes sense in the long run.
  • Modify your driving habits to maximize MPG. Ok, boring. The thrill of the wind in your hair and all that! You’ll get over it. Moderate your acceleration (no more pedal to the metal) and speed. Have you noticed that the guy flooring it, changing lanes and generally being obnoxious gets to the destination at the same time you do? I got a BIG surprise when I changed the way I was driving. I was relaxed! Modifying your driving habits can be a great stress reducer.
  • When it’s time for a new car, consider the small car options.
  • Participate in our democracy to influence public policy in favor of sustainability. Getting public policy right on this is incredibly important! E.g., without the rebates from the California Solar Initiative, solar installations would be a small fraction of what they are today. We need public policies that create incentives for adopting sustainable practices.
Next on the list? Post your suggestions!


  1. Great points! I saw a reusable grocery bag for sale at Vons last week, but it was being sold in a plastic bag! Companies need to be more thoughtful in their "Green" decisions!

  2. What to buy is mighty confusing. For one, just because a product dons an "eco-friendly" label does not mean it is. Many things are taken into account: the amount of energy used at the factory, the mileage from the warehouse to your local store...and so on. I teach/excite kids about amazing solar power and they always end up asking, "Why is it so expensive? How are we supposed to go green if our parents can't afford it?" I gloss over these with, "Over time the prices will drop." Your blog will help me in my work so thank you.

  3. I always forget to bring my reusable bag and I feel so guilty every time!

  4. This is a great list! One can also check for and fix any water leaks around the house in order to conserve water :)