Lean Green: It's Simple
Author: Dave Kerns
So I hear there’s a guy in Hilton Head, South Carolina attempting to write a “green article,” but he drives an SUV! Really, the nerve. Wait, maybe he’s learning as he goes. Maybe he’s not actually thinking he’s going to save the world today all by himself. Maybe he’s just trying to do the right thing. I hear he calls his concept “lean green.” That guy…..yep, it’s me. I’ve been a “recycler” for several years now and no, I haven’t rushed out to spend my money on a brand new Prius. That doesn’t mean I can’t call myself “green,” and the same goes for you. Maybe your not an environmental freak (oops sorry, I guess “that guy” is not always politically correct either), but you can still play a part in helping maintain our earth for our kids and grandkids. So why not jump on board with this; it won’t drastically change your life! You don’t have to jump off the “environmental save the world” cliff (unless you want to. That’s fine too). Just a little lean towards green will do. It’s a start, and it’s simple. Here are just a few things I do and you can start to do too:
1) Starbucks. Yes, I’ve seen you there: South end, mid island, Barnes and Noble. Oh yeah, and sneaking into the Piggly Wiggly on your lunch break. I’ve seen you, and I’m sure you’ve seen me! Almost every day. Hey it’s a good place to hang out. And many of us feel the same way, which means many Starbucks cups, lids and sleeves. Do you really need the sleeve? My hands are not burned and blistered, and I don’t get the sleeve. How about the cup itself? Here’s a thought… wow, an earth shattering concept this is! I rinse out my Starbucks cup and use it the next day. I just leave it in the car. It’s clean, and actually it’s kind of cool looking sitting in the cup holder! Right? Hmmm, I hope so. Anyway, you don’t have to use the same cup for two weeks straight. But just think of the lines at Starbucks every day. If each person used his cup for just two days, there would be a lot less trash. And the Starbucks employees, who write your name on the cup and eventually remember it if you’re there every day, would love you even more. There would be fewer trash runs for them. Better yet, buy one of the reusable mugs they sell. Personally, I think the coffee tastes different in the mug, so I don’t always use mine. But we’re just doing what we can, right? Leaning green. You do whichever you’d like. Just do one. We can start something here!
2) More Coffee Talk. Since Java Joe’s is our local coffee shop, here’s one last coffee idea. (Can you tell where I spend my days?) Go to Joe’s and get an old fashioned ceramic mug. Sit and relax. If you haven’t noticed, it’s October. The tourists have gone back up north, and it’s safe to approach Coligny Plaza again! Be sure to stick around and enjoy the comfortable couches, because if you take your drink to go, they’ll give you a Styrofoam cup. Not so environmentally friendly! (We’ll work on changing that with Joe. Are you reading me Joe?!)
3) Wrapping paper. You’re going to your four-year-old nephew’s birthday party. You’ve got the gift but now you must run to CVS or Walgreen’s for wrapping paper. Wait, kids don’t care much about wrapping paper anyway. Though it can sometimes be recycled, most likely it will end up in a pile and shoved into a big plastic garbage bag to be thrown away. Instead, how about stopping at your local Coligny hardware store where you can pick up a sand bucket or something else useful to display your smaller gifts in as you walk through the door? Little Jack will love that he’s getting an extra gift to use at the beach tomorrow! Yes, I know the bucket might not be as easily recycled, but it will be around for a few more years than the 30 seconds it takes him to rip off the fancy drug store wrapping paper which Aunt Thelma will stuff in the garbage bag. Okay, you’ve figured me out; this really isn’t just about Jack’s party. I’m trying to make you think about the many situations where, with a little thought on your part, “disposable things” can be replaced by a longer term alternative.
4) Packaging. I’m not even sure where to begin with this. It’s simply ridiculous the amount of packaging being used. From the shelves of everything at Wal-Mart to the bag your fast food gets thrown into at the drive thru. Running late to work two weeks ago, I was forced to the drive thru at McDonald’s. Starve…or well, McDonald’s. Hmmmm. I hate to admit it, but I do that, too. Rarely, but it happens. I ordered one thing, an egg McMuffin. I paid at one window, proceeded to the next and kindly asked that my sandwich not be put in a bag. The friendly girl at the window looked at me with a puzzled look. The conversation went something like this:
“I’m sorry sir, did you say no bag?”
“Yes, no bag please. Just the sandwich”
“Are you sure”
“Yes, I’m sure; it’s one sandwich, and I’m going to eat it right now.”
I smiled, she smiled.
“Ok then, if you’re sure.”
Puzzled look again. I drive off.
Maybe you can do the same next time you order only one thing at the fast food drive thru. Maybe if we all do this on the RARE occasion we stop there, the employee’s at the window won’t be so surprised when we go “bag less.” After all, it’s already wrapped in one thing we immediately throw away.
5) Junk mail. According to a recent front page of the local newspaper, condo and home sales are coming back alive as of July. Does this mean more realtor mail telling me how many condos in my area have sold the month before? Well, I’m not looking to sell my condo, but I do thank the realtors for providing me with scrap paper to use when I’m printing my fantasy football notes. The banks too, for the 15 credit card offers I receive each week. Lots of scrap! Of course, I still buy some nice paper for the important printings, but the back side of much of my junk mail works just fine for the things that aren’t. I’ve called the number to “get off the lists,” but it still keeps coming. Maybe I should take a page from Kramer and fill my mailbox with bricks. Oh, Newman will get upset… Save a few trees; use that junk mail like I do!
6) Grocery store bags. Yes, you’ve heard it a million times before, so I won’t say much. Just do it. Buy the canvas bags. Do it! I’ll help to get you started right now. Get out of the chair you’re sitting in and go to the grocery store list on your refrigerator. Write it on the top of your list. “BUY CANVAS BAGS!” Did you do it? Quit reading until you do!
7) Recycle, or better yet, REUSE. Pass this magazine along for one of your friends to read. Or leave it on the table at the coffee shop to be enjoyed by all. If your friends have already rushed out to get their own copy and you don’t go to coffee shops (really?) then please make sure it ends up in the recycle bin on your back porch so it will make it to the recycle center on your monthly recycle trip. It is located off of Dillon road. You do know that, right?
In future months we may offer more simple tips to get you non-recyclers leaning our way. We will also explore more in depth recycling topics for those of you already onboard. If there’s something simple and green which you do that the readers could easily work into their daily schedule, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hopefully, starting with just a little “lean towards green,” we’ll help to keep our planet nice for generations to come. And your life hasn’t been inconvenienced a bit!
BTW: Throwing your cigarette butt from your car window, on the ground as you walk into a restaurant or, worse yet, on our beautiful beaches… not very green!