Getting Greener

Last November I took and passed the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) exam as suggested by the office where I work. I found the information contained in the study material interesting and even more so the objectives and reasons behind many of the credits for LEED certification of buildings. It has deepened my interest in sustainable development and living, and also made me realize that some unrealistic aspects of the past are now becoming feasible.

As I had already mentioned a few times on this blog, there are ideas and efforts that I’ve been making toward becoming more sustainable. I wrote about how the increasing size of our population and measures that can be taken to slow that down and possibly reverse it. I wrote about my thoughts about our use of energy and sources of energy. And I wrote about my surprise at the lack of recycling in some locations even in this day and age.

But since taking the exam, I’ve become more deeply interested in sustainability. It is interesting because I find that I’m returning to many things from my childhood. My parents made an effort to get us in touch with nature. We visited many places and participated in many activities which introduced us to what was then the early environmental movement. When I was about 11 years old we went to the Audobon National Convention at Rocky Mountain National Park and I still remember much of the information we learned. Camping was our common form of lodging since it allowed us to do larger trips for cheaper. And camping living is inherantly sustainable as long as some concern for the environment is shown. Also my mother has always had a strong interest in diet and natural products. Her and I are/were part of the running community which tends to make you more concerned about your body and what kind of nourishment you provide it.

So the past few months has found me both looking at contemporary sustainability and looking at the sustainability from my past. When it comes to large projects at home, most are too much for our current budget. But smaller projects and small gestures are becoming more common place. We hope to install rain barrels by the end of the summer for irrigating our garden. I’ve become very conscious of my use of electicity and water. For instance, only turning on the tap when it is needed and only at the rate needed. You can wash your hands with the tap less than half open. You can rince out a rag/sponge by stopping the sink and filling the bottom with some water. My grandmother used to do that.

The big difference from before is that I’ve gotten into actively thinking of how my current activity can be done more sustainably. In general it is small scale like using a manual pencil sharpener instead of an electic one, but they do add up. It has made me think harder about purchases. Buying bar soap instead of liquid soap or powdered coffee creamer instead of liquid. I’ve reintroduced myself with the local health food store and I’m trying to get aquainted with the products they offer. Though I wish it were within walking distance.

It really has been fun educating myself on all these fronts and I’m hoping that I can keep taking it to the next step. My hope is that our family and that society as a whole could become zero-waste. It still seems a long way from reality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t think big and keep on trying.


~ by Frank on August 4, 2010.

3 Responses to “Getting Greener”

  1. Martine and I started composting last autumn, after humming and hawing about it for years. It turned out to be a no-brainer. Very east to do, no smells, etc. One odd side effect is that because our weekly non-compost, non-recyclable garbage output is so small, we’re considering getting a smaller bin and using smaller bags. This is because we only empty it about once per week, which means that chicken skin or those fish bones that were put in there five days ago can be majorly stinky, especially in summer.

    One caution about health food stores; despite the hoopla, they’re not necessarily as green as you think. This is especially true of the high-end (“fancy”) places. If you look at their products objectively (i.e., if you can step away from the “feel good” patina that glosses over everything) what you find are highly over-packaged products that have traveled a very long way. And because they tend to be expensive, they also tend to be packaged in smaller sizes. So instead of buying one 650g box of cereal you end up buying two 300 gram boxes, which means double the packaging.

  2. Um. That should be “very easy to do.”

  3. Yeah, between composting and recycling we only have about one bag of garbage per week. You should see the mound of compost we have now. I left it untouched for two or three years and now it about 2 m^3. Though we throw all our leaves and garden clippings in there too. I hope to sift out the dirt sometime before the winter.

    The health food store I found was Tau down by Taschereau and the 10. They seem local and honest about the stuff they carry. For instance they show which nuts are organic and which are not. And even show that some of their organic stuff comes from South America. Though I was surprised that they didn’t have cereal in bags (less packaging). And it still surprises me not to see more products with both less packaging and recyclable packaging. But to see all the organic items in one place was very encouraging. I bought some deodorant without aluminum and some other preservative. I think I had a reaction to it, but I’ll give it another try this weekend.

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