I've been thinking for a while about making a "sticky" post that would talk about all the things we do in our household with a green purpose, and all the things we need to change.
But today, I decided to start a series of shorter posts to cover the same ground, instead, and am beginning with the obvious, our "status symbol":
1. We have a Prius.
There's been plenty of anecdotal indications that Americans are driving less, but now the US DOT has provided some data.
Americans drove 20 billion miles less in April than in April of last year.
Three months ago, at a Northeast Sustainable Energy Association public forum in Boston, green PR guru Solitaire Townsend said the movement to overcome climate change needs to tell its equivalent of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, rather than what it’s has been doing, which she called, “I Have a Nightmare.”
Townsend has a good point. Environmentalists have been militating for decades for drastic changes from businesses and consumers, and for most of that time, all it really gained us was a reputation as do-gooder killjoys. Frickin’ treehuggers.
I knew a guy once who smoked cigars in self-satisfaction for years, but felt he had to give it up when stogies became became the latest fad — it was anathema to him to be seen as going along with a fad. I thought of that again yesterday, when a pal suggested he might not want a Prius because it has become a Yuppie status symbol.
But as I've noted before, the Prius works, strictly at the level of utility, even if it also has become a Yuppie symbol. I know I'm burning less fossil fuel by getting 45 mph, even if some people might think I'm a status seeker.
A strong tenet of the green lifestyle is to "buy local," since even if, say, you are staunchly committed to organic produce — because you understand the long-term danger to agriculture of heavy pesticide use, and you understand that many fertilizers are made with petrochemicals — you are undercutting your principles if the organic produce you buy is flown in from Chile or trucked in from California.
Also from the print press today is William Yardley's "Juneau Journal" in the Times, which details the crisis actions the Alaskan capital has taken to lower its electrical consumption.
The crisis was brought on not by global climate change but by a different natural devastator: An avalanche felled some utility towers that carried hydroelectric power to the city. That power cost 11 cents per kilowatt hour, while the diesel-fired power that replaced it costs 53 cents.
Americans finish 14th — out of 14 — in a new survey of consumers' progress toward making sustainable choices in their daily lives.
The Greendex survey, which talked to 14,000 consumers, calls itself the first to assess consumers' actions, rather than nations'. It was commissioned by National Geographic and conducted by the international polling company GlobeScan. Results were weighted toward the choices consumers actively make, but included those influenced by climate or the availability of green choices.
Via The Green Group, which I learned about via either Facebook or LinkedIn, comes a report on the future of green, as divined by Amsterdam-based trendwatching.com, which bills itself as "an independent and opinionated trend firm [that relies] on our network of 8,000+ spotters in more than 70 countries worldwide." Its focus for May is on the green.
I've mentioned that I'm currently one of the volunteers for Greater Boston Green Drinks, an e-mailing list of about 525 people interested in, or working in the fields of, environmental responsibility. We draw lots of advocates, engineers, builders, policymakers, analysts, students and the just-plain-interested.
I've been going a year, and for much of that time, we met once a month, on the first Tuesday. Beginning last month, we decided to add a second gathering a month, on the third Wednesday.