Can You Do?
Many of us are
looking for concrete actions we can take to move from being part of the
problem to being part of the solution. Below is my action (or inaction) list. Doing these
things will improve the situation about as much as any set of personal
actions can. Some of the suggestions may seem a bit
draconian. Well, they are intended to be - most action plans I've
seen do not come close to recognizing the immensity of the challenge we
face. I don't expect that everyone will achieve them, but we all
need goals, right? Treat these as your ultimate goals, and get as
close to them as you can.
these actions address all of the the most serious elements of the
Problematique that are accessible to the individual, including the root
cause of the entire Problematique - overpopulation.
you haven't already started a family, consider not having children.
everything in your power to cut your automobile use.
your air travel to an absolute minimum.
lower on the food chain (more veggies, less meat...)
eating wild-caught fish. The oceans are in desperate trouble, and
need your help.
reuse, recycle, repair. Reduce your purchases of new stuff to a
own food. If you can't, buy only food that is grown within 200
km. of your home.
your personal energy consumption as close to zero as you can.
electricity from a green supplier.
debt and stay there.
One of the first
things people ask any activist, especially an environmental activist,
is ,"You talk a good game, but what have you done? Have you made any of the sacrifices you
are asking others to make? Are you prepared to lead by
example?" It's a fair question, and one that deserves a
response. Here is what I've done up till now.
changes have yielded remarkable dividends. In the last three
years I have lowered my personal
carbon dioxide emissions from 12
tonnes per year to
2.5 tonnes per year. My life is
simpler, less expensive, more sustainable, more engaged and much more
- Prevented population
growth: I am deliberately childfree, and have had a
socially responsible vasectomy.
- Downsized my home: Three years ago I sold a 3500
triple-garage suburban McMansion that I shared with one other person
and moved to a 1600 square foot urban
bungalow that is half the distance from my work and is shared with
three other people.
- Improved my home heating and cooling system:
When we moved in we replaced the existing medium efficiency furnace and
A/C with high-efficiency units. We keep the thermostat up two degrees
in the summer and down two in the winter.
- Bought energy efficient appliances: We bought an
EnergyStar refrigerator. Every light in our home that is not on a
dimmer is a compact fluorescent.
- Improved home insulation:
We had an energy audit done on the house, replaced a bad window, and
installed weather stripping. Further attic and wall insulation upgrades
are in the
- Use green electricity:
We have changed our electricity supplier from the standard nuclear,
coal, hydro and gas
supplier to a green energy cooperative (Bullfrog Power) whose
produces no greenhouse gases at all.
- Downsized my car: Two years ago I traded in my BMW
540i/6 on a 2001 VW Jetta TDI. diesel. I'd have bought a Smart
Car, but I needed the back seat. I didn't buy a hybrid because
I'm still unconvinced about their total life cycle cost.
- Use public transit: I now take the bus to work
every day instead of driving. As a result my annual automobile
mileage is about a quarter of what it was.
- Stopped flying:
I fly about once every two years.
- Grow some of our own
food: We have turned all
our flower beds into vegetable gardens which we water from rain barrels
and fertilize with compost. I'm planning on donating half my lawn to
the vegetable garden effort next year (more food, less mowing). I don't
fertilize my lawn and I mow it with a reel push mower.
- Eat local food: We
eat a lot of local food that doesn't need to be transported long
- Eat less meat: We
eat a third of the meat we used to, and very little fish (the oceans
are emptying too...)
- Repair, re-use, recycle:
We are fortunate to have a good curbside recycling program where I
live. In addition we save and re-use many items that others
- Got involved in politics:
Rather than wait around for our governments to do anything, we're
trying to change the governments, by getting involved in politics at
the municipal, provincial and federal levels. Progressive parties and
candidates only need apply.