I’m still thinking about a post I read last month on The Tao of Change. The blog author (who’s trying to cut back on driving) was going to bike to visit a friend, the friend thought the trip wasn’t safe by bike and urged her to drive instead — and quietly gave up his own car trip to the coffeeshop the next day as an “offset.” What a cool definition of friendship: taking on a friend’s interests and concerns as one’s own. This also got me thinking that there are workarounds for many situations when one can’t do the obvious eco-friendly thing. Here are some ideas from me — I’d love to hear yours, too!
If you can’t reduce car trips . . .
Unfortunately the U.S. has been built up for individual car travel, not public transit. People have kids, jobs, need groceries, etc. If you can’t reduce as many car trips as you’d like, consider an inexpensive carbon offset to help neutralize your annual driving. TerraPass and Carbonfund.org have calculators and info, including offset plans. (I’ve been using Carbonfund when I fly — they’ll also calculate driving offsets — and TerraPass for an annual household offset.)
If you’re not ready to stop using petroleum-based laundry and dish detergent . . .
I’ve been making a gradual switch, basically keeping two versions on hand (petro-based and plant based) and trying out the new stuff periodically. I finally put away our bright blue dishsoap when I realized I was using the nice almond-scent ECOS Dishmate for almost all the dishes. And we’re currently transitioning into new laundry soap. I still have Tide but I’m trying out more earth friendly options on different types of laundry loads (towels one week, socks and undies the next), just to see if I like it.
If it’s too hot to turn off the air conditioner . . .
I have friends and extended family in Florida; I feel your pain (and I use the a/c a lot, too). At my house we’re compensating with household offsets (see above) and by signing up for our utility’s “green power” plan. The Dept. of Energy has a handy page with links, “Can I buy green energy in my state?”
If eco-friendly is just too expensive . . .
I’ve noticed two new-ish ideas. Clorox worked with the Sierra Club to develop its Clorox Green Works line of products, all of which have earned a Sierra Club seal of approval. They’re plant- and mineral-based, and all ingredients listed on the containers. Those I’ve seen in the store are comparably priced to familiar brand-name cleaning products. (I’ve tried out the toilet cleaner, which works as well as the really toxic stuff I was using before.) For cheaper laundry alternatives: Purex Naturals, while still containing about 1% petroleum based preservatives, is roughly 99% plant-based and is often priced lower than commercial brands (although I wish Purex was more forthcoming about ingredients. I had to hunt through their media pages to get this info). The one caveat here: do some pre-research, since I’ve also seen a couple well-known brand names just throwing “natural” on their labels to indicate fruit or flower scents.
Those are my ideas. If you have good workaround ideas, I’d love to see comments.