The greening of 2011
Lists pop up everywhere around this time of year, telling you the best of last year, the worst, the weirdest, what kind of resolutions to make ad infinitum. With the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 it is the perfect time to reassess where we are and where we are going and with our current state of environmental concerns, finding simple and effective ways to care about our planet should be at the top of our list.
Locally, we do not have to look too far. Local municipalities are in various stages of making those adjustments necessary to encompass green practices that must move from the realm of different and new to become the usual. So what can we do as individuals? Start to fully embrace those initiatives and support them. We can’t run until we walk. So let’s begin.
#1. Use mass transit, bicycle or simply walk. All of these methods of transportation support systems that are already in place and particularly walking or bicycling, are healthy for you as well. Broward County’s “Green Thursday” encourages residents for at least one day get out from behind the wheel of their car and find alternative transportation modes. The new hybrid buses on the road are hard to miss.
#2. Look for synergistic opportunities that “up the ante” so to speak. Find ways that give you more than one benefit such as walking which is good for the environment, good for your health and certainly more economical eliminating the costs of car insurance, maintenance and gasoline.
#3. If you must use a mechanized vehicle, consider retrofitting a golf cart to be solar. There are street legal versions that will provide the necessary quick trip to the store that we all take so frequently. Look at the new EV that will be marketed in Miami. The Town of Davie is looking at police cars that will utilize CNG for fuel. GoFree, a local business, provides a snazzy solar golf cart that is as much fun to look at as it is to drive.
#4. Start paying attention to what you do and go beyond the “but this is how I have always done this”. Not only might you discover that you can turn off your vehicle and not idle at drawbridges and waiting in school pick-up lanes but also gain a certain satisfaction from feeling more in control. You make choices based on awareness rather than on old habits. The planet and each of us deserves more. Fort Lauderdale known as the Venice of America has several drawbridges that give full warning when they are going up and when they are going down. Turn off your vehicle; it saves gas and the environment.
#5. Support manufacturers who make the effort to go beyond simply providing a product or service to those who actively engage in sustainable business practices. This includes how their staff is treated as well. Wal-Mart may sound like a green champion with the retrofits of their stores but they still have some catching up to do with providing a fair and equitable workplace as well as ethical dealings with other businesses. Bruce Foods, IKEA, Eco Simplista, Celestial Tea and Whole Foods are some of the standouts as leaders. Like a manufacturer but they over package? What to do? This leads me to #6…
#6. Let manufacturers know that you want something better or maybe you will take your business elsewhere. These companies are interested in profits and unhappy customers mean that this might cut into those profits. You have more consumer power than you think. There is a for the entry and $15,000 for the manufacturer to produce packaging from paperfoam, completely recyclable.
#7. Recycling is always encouraged. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones and your city participates in single stream recycling or better yet, RecycleBank which rewards you with merchant credits. Hollywood, Florida is one of the only local cities that is currently participating. Make sure you know what you can recycle and if you are the curious type, you might want to find out what happens to this stuff when it is recycled. As so well described in “The Story of Electronics” by Annie Leonard, it is not always what you think. Good intentions, unfortunately, are not always enough.
#8. So obvious, just turn stuff off when you are through using it; televisions, radios, computers (all the way off not just on sleeper mode), lights, fans, keep going there is more. Let’s dispel one myth right now, fans do not cool rooms, they cool people and unless you have it circulating the correct way for the time of year (there is a setting for summer and winter) and the warm air can vent up and out of the room, you are not doing much. Once you leave the room, turn it off.
#9. Avoid irrigation for your yard and seriously consider substituting food producing trees and bushes for grass. Not only will you avoid the cost, sweat and carbon emissions from mowing, you will reward both your health and wallet with fresh food that you didn’t even have to go to the store to get. It doesn’t get any more local than that. Seeds harvested from fruit and vegetables you have already bought can be used as starter for more plants. Try buying organic, the seeds usually produce more and better starter plants. Remember #2? a great synergistic opportunity with the sustainability trinity of economic, environmental and social. Neighbors love to visit neighbors who share excess bounty, which leads me to just a simple but so important #10…
#10. Required to put in irrigation in your yard and have grass because it is part of the cities landscape code? Make sure you put a water sensor on your system so it does not water on a rainy day and then find out who’s getting elected to where. There is nothing worse that officials being appointed to committees especially those concerning the environment that have no background. These appointments must move beyond political and become substantive. We cannot afford otherwise.
Thought for the year, “Think, you have a brain, use it, no more business as usual unless it makes sense. Make this year the “Year of Reason”.
As an architectural consultant, LEED AP, LEED certification reviewer, real estate broker and AIA associate, Valerie J. Amor is dynamically engaged in sustainability and issues regarding the built environment. Actively participating in several local, county and national organizations and committees focused on sustainability issues, she is also owner/principal of Drawing Conclusions and founder/president of Green Collar Connection, companies engaged in sustainable design, real estate development, green job training and research. Knowledgeable and well connected she brings you timely and thoughtful articles. Reach her at .
- 2011 Florida Renewal Energy Tour
- County to look at climate change plan recommendations
- Broward Climate Change Action Plan passed unanimously by Broward County Commission
- Environmentally conscious, canned and edible
- 2011 Decomedian Contest – hosted by IMPROV and DECO DRIVE
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