This past week my first grandbaby was born, and he is just the cutest thing ever! Just as when my own children were born, I loved this baby immediately and wanted the best for him. I have heard it said that my generation is the first to pass on a bleaker future to our children. Wow! My parents worked hard and sacrificed all of their lives so that I could have it better than they did. I can’t erase the national debt on my own or fix the health care crisis, but I can make small changes in my life to give our children a better future. As I have listened to talk radio, I don’t understand why being green has become such a political issue. Shouldn’t taking care of the things we are given just be the right thing to do? In most things I would consider myself a conservative, but when I hear Sean Hannity say he doesn’t have time to smash a cardboard box and throw it in a recycling can, I become confused. Really how hard is that? Now, I am not suggesting we all sell our cars and ride a bike everywhere we go or give up modern conveniences and live like the Amish, but just doing simple things can make a difference. Most green activities are just a matter of a change of habits. For my office this year, I bought a calendar with 101 ideas of ways to save the planet. It was printed with soy ink on recycled paper of course. Here are 10 easy things we can do:
1. Always recycle food and beverage cans. Recycling aluminum uses only 5 percent of the energy it takes to process aluminum from raw materials.
2. Remember to turn off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth, applying makeup, or shaving. The water saved during one instance of brushing your teeth is about 2 gallons.
3. Birds are much more efficient than people at killing insects, so encourage birds to visit your yard with a bird feeder that is suitable for the wild birds in your area.
4. Be honest- how much junk mail do you actually read? You can control the amount of unsolicited mail you receive and reduce paper waste. Learn how to opt out of junk mail at www.dmachoice.org
5. Every mile you walk is estimated to add 20 minutes to your life.
6. When the charger for a cell phone is left plugged in, about 95 percent of the energy goes to waste – so unplug all chargers when not in use.
7. Plastic bags are a major environmental no-no. Keep a stash of reusable fabric bags in your car so you won’t forget to take them along when you go shopping.
8. Dust your lights! Keeping bulbs clean makes them work more efficiently.
9. Here’s a natural way to freshen the air in your home: simmer citrus slices and a few cloves in a pan of water for about an hour.
10. Don’t try to change your lifestyle dramatically all at once. Be realistic about making green changes and incorporate them gradually in your daily life.
One of October’s hints is placing a wool blanket under the bottom sheet of your bed to make it feel warmer. I must confess that I have a mattress heater, and I love it. So I will save energy in another area and indulge myself with my mattress heater. I’m hoping Al Gore has a mattress heater of his own because it is heavenly on a cold winter night.