I consider myself an ardent environmentalist (I ought to be, right?) Even though I recycle and reuse almost everything and have been known to take things out of the trash that my husband threw away to recycle them; even though I always turn off lights when I leave the room and never leave the water running when I brush my teeth;
English: Compact fluorescent light bulb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Even though I have replaced all my light bulbs with energy-efficient CFLs; even though I unplug small appliances when I’m away and use an energy-saving power strip that has made turning the television on even more complicated; even though I rarely eat meat and buy organic and local produce (just to name a few of my eco-habits), I was shocked when I recently took the Ecological Footprint Quiz and found out that I need 3.5 planets to sustain my current rate of energy consumption! The quiz, sponsored by the Center for Sustainable Economy, asks 27 questions about your lifestyle and the answers determine how much “nature” your lifestyle requires. It estimates “the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your wastes on an annual basis” and allows you to compare your ecological footprint to others’. My footprint was lower than “others”, but 3.5 planets is horrifying! Naturally, the quiz is not totally customized to your lifestyle. For instance, there was no place to put that I drive an electric car or that my husband drives a biodiesel one, nor that we have planted over 2000 trees on our farm where we are developing a life off the grid. Surely, this would have at least knocked one planet off my consumption level. Nevertheless, it was eye-opening and scary to say the least to see how much energy I actually consume and need in my daily life.
Go to myfootprint.org to take the quiz yourself. Sometimes a dose of reality is exactly what one needs to make positive changes in life. The quiz offers lots of energy-saving tips. Let me know what changes you plan to make!
Ecological Footprint Quiz Results (Photo credit: acordova)
Image via Wikipedia
It hasn’t been the greatest year for skiing. Nevertheless, I’ve been reading a lot about green skiing. Coincidentally, my husband told me about one of his employees who not only got to park in the front row, but ski free at Mt. Cranmoor simply because he drove a biodiesel car! (An aside – our company Boston Tree Preservation uses all biodiesel trucks and sales vehicles.)
With the manufacture of artificial powder, which uses lots of fresh water, the electricity for lifts, all the gear, and long car drives to the slopes, skiing typically isn’t very green. Ski resorts are making an effort however, to become greener and reduce their carbon emissions. Some are converting to wind power and using recycled snow. Some offer ride shares, carpool and shuttle services, or incentives like prime parking and discounted or free lift tickets for using greener transportation. Below are some green skiing tips from the Sierra Club you can do to lessen your environmental impact.
- For your equipment, try eco-skis – Lokomotiv Skis plants a tree for every pair they produce. They have discontinued the use of hardwood and use fast-growing bamboo wood cores instead. Colorado-based Liberty as well as other companies also build cores from bamboo. German ski maker Grown uses wood sources from sustainably managed forests.
- For the occasional skier, consider borrowing a pair from a friend or buying used.
- For your gear, it’s best to use environmentally conscious companies like Patagonia and Mountain Equipment Co-Op. They use lower impact materials such as organic cotton and recycled plastics for the warm layers in their jackets. Patagonia’s Common Threads Recycling Program transforms worn-out garments into new ones. Both companies are members of 1% for the Planet. Their gear may cost a little more, but it lasts.
- Carpool, take advantage of ride shares or use greener transportation if possible.
- As with all day-to-day activities, bring your own bpa-free reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic ones.
Being outside in nature is an important part of green living. With a little awareness, your outdoor experience will be even greener!
Information compiled from sierraclub.org