by Jaye Sudar
No, this article isn′t about the latest in widescreen TV′s, cell phones or even computers. It′s about the art of using resources sustainably to lighten the footprint we leave on earth. It′s about the interplay between economics, society and the environment. In order to avoid strip mining the planet and consuming ourselves to extinction, we have to balance our lives. It sounds like a daunting task. However, if everyone participated, a combined effort would achieve results.
Thoreau wrote about sustainability in 1854 when he published Walden. Living simply, having just enough, and working with what you have are ideas that have percolated through the American psyche for generations. Helen and Scott Nearing wrote Living the Good Life in 1954 which introduced the concept of sustainable living to the modern era. Silent Spring by Carson in 1962, The Limits of Growth by Meadows in 1972 and Small is Beautiful by Schumacher in 1973 all focused on sustainability. Mother Earth News has had information on everything from growing your own tomatoes to solar heat since 1970.
Now, where do we fit in? At the roots. Sustainability begins at home. It boils down to a few simple principles that can be put into practice by anyone. Renew, reuse, recycle. When there is plenty of money, most people don′t repair things. Our broken toys fill up the landfill, and we buy new ones. Yet, all of us have relatives who grew up in the depression era when every scrap was reused. Or, we know that grandma had a Victory Garden, and Daddy collected soda bottles for money to go to the movies. For the last 50 years, consumerism has driven our lives. Now that money is tight, sustainability is back in fashion. It isn′t just good for our wallets; it is good for the earth.
So, back to us … there are lots of ways to make your lifestyle more sustainable. Take a good look at your house. First, what can you do with stuff besides throwing it in the trash? Do you use plastic bags or reusable ones at the grocery? Do you sort your trash into recycling and composting? Have you considered donating clothing to charity? Do you participate in recycling schemes for appliances?
Next is energy use. Check your energy consumption. Mom was right – turn off lights. Electric appliances that are on even when they aren′t in use waste energy. The worst of these utilize the oversize wall adapters known as “wall warts.” We all have them. Unplug them when you′re done. Save money and energy! Change incandescent bulbs for fluorescent bulbs.
Best of all, shop locally. Head to Sporleder′s for dog food. Catch the Circulator to Safeway. Check with the CSU Extension office for local farmers. Check out the library for ways to “green” your lifestyle. Take five minutes and ask grandma how she did things. You might be surprised at how sustainable her answer is.