I follow the Three R’s as much as I can, but I’m not really into becoming a green martyr to save the planet. Does that make me a bad person? I’m a mom and a wife — Chief Household Officer (CHO.) Decider of 89% of all household purchases. I’m a Californian. We recently banned the use of plastic bags at retail stores. I’m an owner of two trashcans. One for trash. One for recycle. I only water my lawn three times per week (thank you Mr. Mayor.) I buy organic as much as I can, but do not frequent Whole Foods — aka whole paycheck. But am I really doing enough to protect the planet for my kids?
This month at school, the ongoing theme (aside from Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, Crazy Hair Day and a bevy of other overwhelming activities that require my involvement) is “The Three R’s.” In case you’re not familiar, the three R’s are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love our pale blue dot and want to be a part of keeping it nice for generations to come, however, I have to admit that I often leave the hard stuff to the tree huggers. However, one of my new year’s resolutions is to do more to save the planet. But what can the average working mom really accomplish?
So thought I’d share a collection of ideas to GO GREEN. Some I’ve actually accomplished; so if I can do it, so can you.
GO SOLAR (Reduce):
A renewable energy source billions of years old. I’m a proponent of solar, and now don 15 panels on my roof. With tax rebates and no money down options, not be mention boost in property value, there’s really no better time to commit. Experts state that that home installation growth over the last five years hovers at about 20% year over year, and is estimated to continue to grow. United States, Japan and Germany are leading the charge. Personally, I feel good reducing my personal dependence on fossil fuels, but have to be honest that I really did it to save money, and stick it to the Department of Water and Power. Take that DWP!
GO OLD SCHOOL (Reuse):
If your car is still rolling; keep it. Lower insurance and registration rates help you save money. I’m predicting that in just a few years, my Toyota Sienna minivan that I inherited from my mom, will be a classic.
GO HYBRID AND/OR ELECTRIC (Reduce):
If you literally have the green, and are lucky enough to buy a Tesla, then by all means do so. For the rest of us there’s now a multitude of choices that are becoming more and more cost effective, like the ever-popular Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, or Chevrolet Volt. The Volt’s stats are impressive at 50 miles for all electric and 101 city / 93 highway for petrol back-up. My cousin has the Volt and loves it. Brags that hasn’t been to the gas station in three months. He’s also what I lovingly refer to as a “green gloater.” (We’ve got a lot of them here in California.)
GO PUBLIC, and LAST MILE (Reduce):
Whether it’s the bus, train, or your own two feet, taking public transit makes for cleaner air. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, cars and trucks are one of the leading causes of air pollution on our planet. At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the U.S. who hasn’t heard of the health risks of air pollution; responsible for nearly 30,000 premature deaths each year.
Problem is that in so many places, public transportation won’t take you all the way there. That’s where “last mile” vehicles are helpful. There’s a few to chose from, but most are a bit unstable for my liking. Not so much a last mile vehicle, but all electric, non the less, OjO Commuter Scooter comes equipped with state-of-the art battery technology that features a patented on-board charger with retractable cord and plug that goes up to 25 miles on a single charge and 20 MPH; affording riders the ability to charge at any standard 110V wall outlet — very convenient. The best thing is you don’t even need a license to drive it! OjO execs say its scooter is “the rebirth of transportation for a better planet.” Whatever! This scooter is sexy-chic, and we all need a little of that on our commute don’t we?
GO TOGETHER (Reduce):
According to Statistic Brain, the total amount of gas saved yearly by carpooling equals 85 million gallons, yet only 10% of all Americans carpool. Estimated dollars saved each year by carpooling is over $1 billion. Wait, something doesn’t make sense here! Come on folks, this one’s a no-brainer. Does Uber count?
GO COMPOST (Recycle? Reuse?):
The Environmental Protection Agency states that food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away and is filling up landfills and releasing methane (a potent greenhouse gas.) Composting advocates explain that it is super easy. And believe it or not, you can even compost indoors!
GO BRIGHT (Reduce):
Installing LED’s or compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLS) as your incandescent bulbs burn out can really mean green to your bottom line. Consumer Reports states that replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb — the most common household bulb — with a spiral-type 13-watt CFL that produces an equivalent amount of light, could save more than $57 over its lifetime. My boss replaced all his bulbs at once and said it was a pretty penny to do so, but swears that his electric bill immediately came down about 25% to 30% per month. Also, take a lesson from your dad and turn off the lights when not in use. Money doesn’t grow on trees after all!
GO THRIFT (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle):
Resale is a multi-billion dollar a year industry with annual revenues of approximately $17 billion. That includes antique, consignment, and thrift stores. Stats show that over 30% of all Americans shop “used” every year. Goodwill Industries reports that it puts nearly 30,000 people to work in his more than 2,000 stores; generating over $5 billion in sales. So by shopping this way, essentially you can take care of all of the three R’s in one place! (Don’t forget to donate!)
GO SKIP and GO SACK: (Reduce and Reuse):
Skip the bottle that is. The average American uses over 160 disposable water bottles a year, but recycles less than 40 of those. Brita estimates that Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year; and U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles alone. Approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide annually (more than 1 million each minute!) Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. This one’s easy. Buy a couple reusable water bottles and some cloth sacks to carry your goods and call it a day.
GO DONATE (Recycle and Reuse):
You’ve probably heard that e-waste is hazardous. That’s televisions, computers and monitors, cell phones, more. According to the EPA e-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America, yet only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled. You can do something meaningful with your old computers, laptops and cell phones by donating to Cell Phones for Soldiers. The organization was founded in 2004 by Robbie and Brittany Bergquist at the ages of 12 and 13, and to date their organization has provided more than 300 million minutes of talk time to our troops serving around the world through the Minutes That Matter program. Other great organizations serving families in need with electronics include Komputers 4 Kids, Dell/Goodwill Reconnect Program that has collected 400+ million pounds of electronics at over 2K Goodwill locations nationwide and more. The EPA provides plenty of other options as well.
GO BORROW (Reuse):
Instead of buying something you’re not going to use very often, see if you can borrow it from someone you know. Great excuse to get to know your neighbor better. How often are you really going to use that circular saw?
GO DIY-CLEAN (Reduce):
Be a home-hack extraordinaire and consider making your own cleaning supplies for some real DIY satisfaction. You may not know that some simple ingredients from your cupboard can be used to make your own cleaning products that are non-toxic for the environment and your family, at a fraction of the cost of store bought. Chemical free agents like white vinegar, baking soda, lemon, vodka and more. While I haven’t quite gone this far, I do make my own bubbles for the kids that is cheaper and better than the store-bought. Super-Deluxe Bubbles call for 8 cups water, 1 cup dish soap (I think Dawn works best), ½ glycerin, ¼ cup sugar. Mix in a pitcher and blow!
DoSomething.org urges the younger generation to tackle a campaign to “Make the world suck less.” Eloquent or not, it makes sense. We can all do something, big or small; it doesn’t matter. This year, I’m taking on the environment and urge you to also do a few things to help save our planet.
Originally published at medium.com