murmeldyr.no

The weblog of a traveller

   Jun 17

I think I am green. Do you agree?

I try to lead a life that is giving back more than it takes from the world around me. One aspect of this is incorporating environmentally friendly practices in my everyday. In a break from preapring my master’s dissertation I made a list, roughly ordered by amount of care spent:

  • Buying organics whenever I can, longing for the time when it will be possible to live off organics alone. Not so much because it is healthier, more because it is better for the soil the stuff’s grown in as well as whatever is downstream of the field.
  • Keeping a strict scheme for new clothing: One in, one out. This is a necessity directed by my closet size, but also makes me think twice about getting new stuff: I’ll have to sacrifice something for it. At the moment I’m one above, which means I need to donate an item.
  • I never ever throw out edible food. Not even the more experimental dishes that didn’t turn out so good, I’ll rather put them in a stew with other things.  The pet bunnies help out a lot here, as long as I have them I can get all the yummy greens I like without worrying if they’ll get old too soon.
  • I don’t eat meat, apart from the occasional fish. Mostly because this is a better way to spend our resources. Improved health and avoiding qualms about livestock welfare issues is more of a bonus. Yes, this is a bit down the list, as I stopped eating meat six years ago and rarely need to think about it anymore.
  • I finally (sorta) fixed my bicycle, after having been a passive bicycle lover for a long time. Burn fat, not oil!
  • Growing my own herbs and veggies, at least I try. Peas, tarragon, chives, and dill grow like a charm, squash, pumpkin and peppers struggle a bit.
  • I make lists of stuff I need, and look for them at flea markets, second hand shops and private sale websites. The majority of my furniture and kitchen stuff is second hand. I also get rid of stuff in the same way.
  • Minimizing transport of water. Not only by not buying bottled water, but also by getting concentrates to which I can add my local tap water. Bar soaps, bar shampoo, solid deodorants, concentrated fruits for drinks. Not-from-concentrate juices may seem fresher, but only because whole oranges were shipped all the way to your regional factory where everything but the juice is discarded. If this process is done on site, the peel and everything that does not belong in the juice can be removed already, transporting only a fraction of the weight for re-hydrating at your local tappery or kitchen.
  • I reduce packaging. If both packaged and loose potatoes are available, I go for the loose ones directly in the shopping tote. Consumer power!
  • Leftover water is used for watering plants, not thrown out.
  • Air drying my clothes: Why spend money on a huge ugly machine that uses electricity to wear on your clothes?
  • Prefer digital over paper subscriptions (on a theoretical basis until I get hold of a good e-reader)

 

I’ve left out some smaller, no-brainer things like bringing reusable bags to the store and putting on some woolen socks instead of turning up the heat. Still the list does seem pretty long, but I am always searching for ways to make it more significant.

There’s also some significantly green things I do NOT do. For one, I don’t compost. My local authorities seem to think dumping organic waste on landfill is a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with this resource. And I don’t have a garden, so it’s not easy to self-compost. I tried the smaller compost bins, but they fill up quickly and don’t seem to produce sufficient heat for the process to pick up. For two, I have a car. It’s not in use every week, but sometimes there’s just no buses.

When making choices, it is necessary to use your own head and not blindly buy into all recommendations out there. Is the reusable latte glass (lots of energy used in manufacture and washing between each customer) really more energy efficient than the recyclable paper cup? When I fly (which I do rarely, but it takes DAYS to get from Oslo to Aberdeen by train and ferry) I don’t pay for CO2-neutrality because I regard those schemes as half scams, and would rather donate my cash to a charity which I trust. And some choices that brand themselves as green aren’t necessarily really that eco friendly. Take soy milk (imported, heavily processed) versus dairy (quite local, not very processed). But the soy does use less land, so how does it add up overall? When in doubt, I tend to disregard the whole dilemma and pick the cheaper one.

Making my personal footprint on the Earth lighter is something I think about every day. Do you think I succeed? What do you do to tread gently on the Earth? Leave a comment!

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3 Comments

  1. Linda says:

    I think you’re doing a great job! I’m working towards my footprint becoming a bit smaller as well, but some things are impossible for me to do anything about. Although I’ve exchanged most products for a more earth friendly alternative, I’ve been unable to find a spot remover that works, I’m also car dependant because of the non-existing bus/train routes. We have to drive for 25 km to get to the nearest train station. In addition to this, I do use dairy and meat, I could never change that, but that’s me. I’ll have to do better in other areas in stead. I do compost, but I wish they’d recycle plastics here.

    • aggy says:

      Great Linda! When you’re down to the spot remover it tells me that you’ve been turning a lot of stones. The one from Sonette with bile enzymes from bulls works for me. About the diet; everyone has a different metabolism and if you’ve tried vegetarian for a week or two and it didn’t work for you, that’s fine, the important thing is you tried. I originally planned to do it for a month and then go back, but loved it and never saw a reason to go back. I do eat more than before, and I think those who claim they don’t get full on vegetarian foods are used to eating small portions – of course you need to increase the size to get the same lasting fullness on the usually less dense Vegetarian food.

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