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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 06:28 PM
Original message
How to be a climate hero
I was going to post this over in the environmental forum, but I think it deserves wider exposure. It's an important bit of human psychology coupled with a cause I feel strongly about, so I'm posting it here.

From my heart, I sincerely ask each one of you to make one change this year. One thing to help use less oil, put out less emissions, waste less plastic, grow more trees. Just one thing. If you want to do more, that's fantastic. But if every person asks every other person to do one thing... you know how that story goes.

My one thing for the last year has been to stop accepting bags from stores, unless I absolutely cannot carry the items in my purse/hands, and have forgotten my reusable bags.

If this moves you as much as it moved me, please rec so that more people will see and learn, as well.

And now, without further ado:

reposted from DailyKos, with permission - mods please note that the author gives explicit permission to repost in her reply, here:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/1/11/155549/251


HOW TO BE A CLIMATE HERO
by AudreySchulman
Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 01:05:33 PM PST

One afternoon last summer, I was on a commuter train when I heard someone yelling behind me. I didnt pay attention because I was breaking up a fight between my kids. I figured the noise was from some college students having fun. The third time the person yelled, I turned around.

It was a boy, about six years old. He was standing on his seat, screaming, My moms having a seizure. The only part of his mom I could see were her legs sticking out into the aisle, convulsing.

And arrayed around the train car, staring, were 40 other people, mouths open. Not one of them doing a thing.

*

Humans tend to freeze like this, the Bystander Effect as its called. It was first demonstrated in a famous psychology experiment by John Darley and Bibb Latane. For the experiment, the subject was asked to fill out some forms. He or she assumed these forms were just the necessary information preparatory to the experiment, didnt understand the experiment had already begun. While the person circled multiple-choice answers, smoke began to sneak out of a vent in the room. Thick smoke, grey smoke. The kind that says fire. The experimenter then timed how long it took for the subject to leave the room to find out what was going on.

The only variable was if there were other people in the room. These people pretended to be subjects also, but were actually actors paid by the experimenter to stay there, heads down, pencils working, ignoring the smoke.

If the subject were alone in the room, 75% of the time she or he would leave inside of a minute.
But if there were others in the room working away at their papers, the person would just stay there with them --90% of the time. Stay there filling out forms until the smoke was too thick to see through. Until if there had been a fire, it would have been licking at the walls.

In the decades since that first Bystander experiment, its been repeated with many variations on the type of emergency: staged robberies, lost wallets, people in the hallway crying for help, etc. Every time, if there were more than one person witnessing the event, all of them were almost certain to do nothing.

So, on the train, the boy was loudly identifying this as a true emergency, his mother physically demonstrating the urgency of the matter. Still everyone sat there, mouths open. Half of them had cell phones clipped on their belts, but not one of them was dialing 911. No one was running to get the conductor. Remember this fact; although we feel safer in a crowd, thats actually where humans are most incapacitated. The bigger the crowd, the stronger the effect.

In some of the later Bystander-Effect experiments, the subjects have blood pressure cuffs on and what they say is recorded. Their pulse races, their blood pressure rises. They mutter, shit, and holy hell. From their reactions its clear they recognize whats happening as an emergency and feel great urgency about it. Still, they stand there, frozen.



Right now everyone understands something truly horrible is happening to the planets climate. The heat waves and forest fires, the floods and droughts. But theres six billion of us now. Quite the Bystander Effect. So we stay in our seats filling out forms, working dutifully, trying to ignore the smoke swirling thicker around us. We mutter under our breath, our hearts race, while we wonder why no one else is doing anything.



With the people on the train watching the woman convulse, each of them glanced around and believed everyone else must be sitting still for a good reason. Perhaps the others had some inside knowledge, that this was a movie being filmed or a scam being tried or that the kid was just playing some sort of mean joke.

Each person also thought, if this were real, then surely with 40 other people here, there should be someone who knew how to deal with seizures. There must be someone competent, with professional training and a medical vocabulary. Each person assumed, I should be the last person to help. I dont know dinky about seizures.

Thinking this way, a whole group of adults will passively watch a child screaming for someone to help his mother.

And thinking this way is also how we can bustle about our normal lives, feeling increasingly uneasy about the shifting climate, but assuming it couldnt be as bad as it seems because surely then everyone would be marching in the street about it. And if it were real, then there must be someone better than us at getting others to demonstrate against it. We dont know dinky about activism.



On the train with the epileptic mother, I got to my feet for two reasons.

One, I knew about the Bystander Effect, had studied it in school and written about it before. (Knowledge about how badly humans react in emergencies is the best way to short-circuit the effect. Research has shown so long as you remember this tendency of humans to passively gawk, you are inoculated against it. From the simple action of reading this essay, you are much more likely in the next emergency you encounter to get out of your seat and do something.)

The second reason I didnt sit still is that Id experienced the Bystander Effect in the past. As a teenager, Id found a lost puppy sleeping in a park. It was maybe three months old, a pure white coat and pink tongue. A friend and I patted it for a few minutes before it bolted away from us, out into the street. There was a car coming. Let me be clear; the car was not that close. I could have stepped out, holding up my hand to stop it, or simply scooped the puppy up and walked away to safety. Instead, both my friend and I stared, as passive as if watching TV.

As the car got closer, in that elastic moment of fear, I learned something about myself, that I could be a small scared person, that I could passively watch harm happen to something defenseless. I didnt like that feeling. Although the car skidded to a halt in time and the puppy was ok, I never wanted to see myself behave that way again.

So on the train, hearing the boy yell, I didnt wonder why everyone stayed still. I knew all too well. I stepped forward, yelling out, Someone call 911. Someone get the conductor. Anyone here have medical training?

And the fascinating thing was, before I moved, everyones faces were contorted with terror. As though they were the ones having the seizure or as though this woman thrashing around like a dying fish might be about to start biting their ankles.

But from the moment I stepped forward, telling them what to do, how to help, the fear in their face melted away. Poof. Two other people stood up to help. Four others whipped out their cell phones to call 911. One person ran for the conductor. They just needed someone to break the group cohesion and start the action. They desperately wanted to do good. (Like me with the puppy, while theyd stared at the woman convulsing, their assessment of themselves had been rapidly plummeting. They didnt know why they were frozen, but they were beginning to grasp the possibility they might live out the rest of their lives knowing they hadnt done a thing while this kid screamed louder and louder.)

I cradled the convulsing womans head so at least she wouldnt thunk it hard against anything. Two other people tried to reassure the boy. The conductor stopped the train and we waited for the EMTs. (By the way it turns out that aside from getting people to start moving, I wasnt terribly useful. I remembered reading that during seizures its important to make sure the person doesnt swallow their own tongue and suffocate on it. After this incident I found out that swallowed-tongue thing is a myth and the most you should do is make sure they dont hurt themselves slamming their body parts around. However in the moment, without this information, I determinedly tried to jam my fingers between her grinding teeth to grab hold of her tongue. Like I said, the point is not to be the most competent person --which I am definitely not-- the point is to get people moving. Anyone can do that.)



Psychologists know a lot about fear: how it starts, how it changes over time. If a person experiences fear for long enough, especially if theres no perceived way to fight the danger, the fear shifts into anxiety and depression. In a famous experiment by Martin Seligman, dogs were caged up and then repeatedly electrocuted through the metal floor. The shock was hard enough to hurt, not kill. The shock was preceded each time by a bell being rung. After the bell there was nothing these dogs could do but wait for the pain. After a few days of this experiment the dogs lay down and just whimpered --not just when the bell rang but all the time. They wouldnt eat; they wouldnt take interest in other dogs. They basically acted like they needed a lot of Prozac and a straight jacket. That whimpering puddle of depression is called Learned Helplessness.

Seligman also had a second group of dogs that had a safe room inside their cage. This room wasnt electrified. When those dogs heard the bell if they jumped super quick for the safe room, they could possibly avoid the pain. These dogs never lay down and whimpered. They ate normally and functioned. Yes, they sometimes didnt reach the other room fast enough and then they got shocked and it hurt like hell but the pain wasnt the point. The point was they had a sense of power in the world, of agency. They felt active and capable of defending themselves.

They werent sitting frozen in their seats with no idea of what to do.



A few years ago, when my first child was born, I became paralyzed with fear about climate disruption. It was so clear that what we adults were doing to the world, our children would be punished for. My child would suffer for our sins and there was nothing I could do about it. I got depressed. I got anxious. Metaphorically I lay on the floor whimpering for a while. Then from sheer desperation I started writing letters-to-editors. I remember well the first one that got published. It was in the Boston Globe and it supported building Cape Wind, the large wind-turbine farm off Nantucket. The head of Cape Wind, Jim Gordon, called me up personally to thank me. The thrill I got. The sense of agency.

After that I was out of my seat. I believed there was a safe room I could at least try to get to, if I moved super quick. Now I go to every demonstration. I write to every politician. I insulate my house fanatically. I dont own a car. Every year I do a little more: composting kitchen waste, buying at farmers markets, recycling, buying only secondhand. Using carbon calculators, Ive figured out Ive lowered my familys emissions 50% in seven years. Thats a big step. Because of my actions, my fear for my childrens future is not incapacitating. Im not depressed. Im striding down the aisle trying to help. Im learning as I go. Not only have I improved my emotional state, Ive broken group cohesion and started to pull others from their seats. Ive gotten friends and relatives to insulate more and drive less, to admit the problem and start thinking about the solution.



So by the time the EMTs arrived, the woman had stopped convulsing and was breathing easier. I was still holding her head and I got to tell you a human head gets heavy after a few minutes. They woke her up to lead her dazed from the car. The boy trailed after her. Every one of us passengers called out to him hed done a great job. We told him hed saved his mom. That group that had been so scared and frozen a few minutes ago was now grinning and relieved. We were slaphappy with love for other humans and ourselves.
Each of us knew the situation could have turned out so differently.



The scientists tell us we Americans must lower our carbon emissions at least 80% by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate disruption. So lets imagine the year is 2050 and weve managed to lower our emissions enough. As Ive already seen in my own home, radically decreasing emissions is not so hard. Surely the US, the most innovative and wealthy nation in the world, can do a lot more than just me in 40 years. Lets imagine weve gotten out of our seats. Weve strode down the aisle. Weve done our best with whatever information we had. Whether or not we incompetently tried to grab at slippery tongues, we still broke the Bystander Effect. We got the country moving. We didnt just lie down whimpering and depressed. In this case, filled with our own sense of agency and our communal effort, we grin around at each other, proud of humanity and ourselves, slaphappy with love for our planet.



Scientists tell us we have 10 years if that to start making significant changes. We are already at the equivalent of 450 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the point at which they say the Earth has a 50/50 chance of shifting to a new climactic system. Because the planet is so large and unwieldy, the climate takes a little while to shift. We can balance here for a few years before the dice is cast. Every indication, from ice caps to defrosting tundra, seems to show this is the tipping point.

This is our moment.

The kid on the train is standing up and screaming for help. The weather is convulsing. We are all staring. Perhaps you never thought youd get a chance to play hero. Here it is. Let me tell you, youll feel better. As soon as you get out of your seat, much of the fear and depression will go. Others will follow. Its so much easier than you can imagine.

Doesnt matter if you arent sure what to do. Make your best guess. Call the EMTs. For Gods sake get the conductor.
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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 06:47 PM
Response to Original message
1. I put tote bags in the car, at the office, and at home, so I've always got one or more
when I need them. I don't go to the mall much anymore, but I plan to take them into department stores too if I ever enter one of those again.

I have also put a box in the trunk of my car, to put the HP laster jet ink cartridges in which I can take to the UPS store for recycling when I go to the bank or post-office. I wasn't doing that last year and the guy who manages this at the office said don't bother, but I've decided to bother. We use a lot of these and it hurts to throw them away. I just have to get organized so it isn't an extra trip in the car.
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 06:54 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yep!
We've got ours hanging in the hallway so we remember to grab them on the way out, and I've got one I generally carry with me. It's really easy, once you get into the habit. I love shocking store clerks. "Are you sure you don't need a bag?" I had a cashier try to put a bag of rice into a bag for me. "I don't need a bag." "What?" "I don't need a bag, that *is* a bag." :rofl:

Good for you for bothering. Little bits add up. Thank you for what you do. :)
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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:04 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. There's another lady at work who talks about this with me. We encourage each other.
Edited on Thu Jan-17-08 07:05 PM by patrice
I'm sure we're going to find some more stuff we can do. We explain to the others there too, to get them thinking about this.
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InvisibleTouch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:04 PM
Response to Original message
3. Great post - thanks!
This is the kind of post that unfortunately doesn't tend to get much response here, because people read it and basically agree with the sentiment. It's not a controversy, not a spark for a flame war, so it tends to sink, and that can be depressing when one posts about such an important topic. Be assured, though, that it does get read - and don't be shy about coming back and kicking it a couple of times.

My "one change" for the coming year is going to be starting a compost bin, with a secondary ambition of growing a good bit of my own food (and collecting rainwater for use in the garden) and buying locally at farmer's markets. I've already got the fluorescent light bulbs, and I've got my driving whittled down about as far as it can go. I do a lot of recycling, especially of metal, and I buy and sell lots of secondhand items. I'm always on the lookout for other ideas, but for now I'll commit to the "one thing."

Thanks again for posting this article!
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:24 PM
Response to Reply #3
12. Thanks, InvisibleTouch
I know what you mean, this kind of post sinks a lot. But I WILL come back and kick it, wanna help? :D

I think it's great that you're doing all that you do. Buying secondhand is something I'm getting better about, or not buying at all. If we weren't planning on an international move, I might have taken the pledge to buy nothing new except food, toiletries and underwear, this year.
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Djinn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #3
28. if it helps I'll inject some controversy
while I generally recycle and buy stuff with limited packaging it's mostly out of habit ingrained by hippie parents.

I don't believe for a second that personal consumer choices will save the planet at all.

As long as shareholder demand profits then we'll continue to consume the planet
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #28
32. Ick, yeah. Shareholders.
I'm not sure you're right, though. If the shareholders demand profits but the people refuse to buy until better methods are used and less waste is produced, or just refuse to buy at all, maybe at some point, the shareholders will be forced to wake up. That does demand educating a whole LOT of people who'd rather stay ignorant, or think it's "too hard" or we "can't do it" or it's "all a myth," though.

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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:43 PM
Response to Reply #32
36. Agreed!
It totally has to be a bottom up thing!
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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 10:51 PM
Response to Reply #3
52. as soon as the snow is gone I'm riding my bike. everywhere. I
have caulked nearly all my windows and will do more this spring. I also have recycled cans and bottles and put all my electronics on bars that I turn off when not using them. I also don't allow any lights on if no one is in the room. I got lined curtains and little pillows to put under the bay windows to keep cold out. I love doing this. I am also taking a magazine from Mother Earth about having a green house. You can find out about it here:

https://www.naturalhomemagazine.com/subscribe/subscribe...
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 06:56 AM
Response to Reply #52
53. Awesome, roguevalley
:thumbsup: Those are all great things you're doing, and good suggestions for others. I'll check out your link!!
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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 01:23 PM
Response to Reply #53
67. I love screwing over utilities by being frugal. My light bill went from
165 a mont to $32 and my gas bill from $220 to $40. :) Its fun.
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 09:05 AM
Response to Reply #67
81. Awesome :D
Not only are you doing good by the environment, you're doing good by your wallet! :bounce:
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:10 PM
Response to Original message
5. We've already been doing tons of things!
Edited on Thu Jan-17-08 07:11 PM by hippywife
Recycling everything that can be recycled, stopped using the clothes dryer, take tote bags to the grocery, I make my own yogurt so we don't get tons of little plastic bowls, this year we are pledging to grow as much of our own food as possible and what we can't grow, to buy locally from small organic farms in the area. We already have two big compost piles going.

We seem to add something new every so often to our efforts which seems to make it easier. Start with the things that are the easiest to do and when those become habit, add something else.

I, too, have everyone at work bringing me their toner and waste toner cartridges for recycling. Wish I could figure out a cost effective/time efficient way to recycle all the news paper that gets thrown out around there. I work in a retirement center and so many of the residents receive the newspaper daily. It all goes in the trash. I just have to divert my attention and know that at least it biodegrades fairly quickly.

Thanx, Lynz!
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #5
13. Hi Hippywife!
I'm not surprised to see all the great things you're already doing! :bounce:

I can imagine the frustration about the newspapers. Is it that there's no central place to collect them? Could the residents put them outside or near their door for you to collect once/day or something, or does that violate cleanliness/safety regulations?

Good for you for everything you do! :)
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:37 PM
Response to Reply #13
29. Believe me, I've tried.
Edited on Thu Jan-17-08 07:40 PM by hippywife
They pick up trash outside their doors twice per week but it's only one guy doing it. I wanted to get one of those Abitibi dumpsters brought in but there is no room for it in the area where the garbage dumpsters are so it would have to be somewhere else on property. The one guy doesn't have enough time to do a second round to collect just the papers or to sort what he does pick up and take it elsewhere. He has other duties through the day, too. We just don't have the staffing to do it in an efficient manner.

I'm still trying to figure it out, and hopefully, I will.

We do turn the heat all the way down when we are gone during the day and when we are in bed at night. Just pile under alot of blankies. We only turn it up to about 70 for a couple of hours in the evening.

Thanx for reminding everyone how easy it is to do at least one little thing. :hi:
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #29
41. Ah, I hear ya.
You'd have to make it your own personal mission or something, collect them into your car every day or some such. That's definitely frustrating. I hope that something comes to you as a solution!

You're welcome! :bounce:
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Pathwalker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #5
68. A suggestion for newspapers: Place them between rows
Edited on Fri Jan-18-08 01:28 PM by Notorious Bohemian
in your vegetable and flower gardens before you lay down mulch. Use at least ten layers to help retard weed growth. Don't place them too close to plants as they can absorb fertilizer.

Also; as long as soy ink is used in the printing, you can compost them.
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 03:27 PM
Response to Reply #68
71. We have done that before
but we are changing our garden this year to the square foot gardening method so we won't need to do that anymore. Plus we are talking about tons and tons of newspaper here. Even in our two compost piles, I wouldn't be able to compost that much of it. There's only so much of it you're supposed to add to the compost piles anyway.
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Pathwalker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #71
73. Our recycle center takes newspapers and magazines,
so we just take our extras there. Does your newspaper accept them? Some do, but not others. Ah well, I tried.
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 03:38 PM
Response to Reply #73
74. I'm not sure because we
don't take the newspaper. I'm sure they do, though. We live in the boonies and have to haul our recycling into town when we go.

All good suggestions, but dude! we're talking about 350 residents, at least half of which take the paper! I can't even imagine hauling all that myself and no one else around there even seems to really care. There are some of the residents who do ask about it but they aren't in any shape to do the work. We did have a few that used to do it but they aged to the point that they couldn't anymore and no one was able to take it over from them.

It's a really huge place so I need to come up with a bigger solution to the problem.
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KitchenWitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:16 PM
Response to Original message
6. I bought about a dozen of those reuseable grocery bags last fall
I keep them in the back of my van, so I always have them when I am shopping. I also bought one of those zip up ones from Target, and I keep it in my purse, so if I run in for only a couple of items, I do not have to open the back of the van.
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:28 PM
Response to Reply #6
16. Awesome, KitchenWitch!
I'm glad to see so many people moving away from plastic/paper bags! :bounce:
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KitchenWitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #16
26. It is funny, people here look at me like I am strange - and I am.
The only place I see others using the reusable bags is at Trader Joes. But I use them EVERYWHERE.
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Yep, same here.
Once our local big grocery store started selling re-usable bags, it became much less weird there, at least. But most other places, it's still weird.

I'd love to see the U.S. implement things like parts of Europe (Germany, at least) have - you pay per bag. Not much, about a dime, but enough to help motivate people not to use a million, or to bag ONE ITEM. That pisses me off to no end!
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KitchenWitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:40 PM
Response to Reply #27
33. I agree. The IKEAs here have started charging per plastic bag
I have two of the big blue bags from there as well. LOVE them.
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SarahB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:18 PM
Response to Original message
7. .
:thumbsup:

K&R
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:28 PM
Response to Reply #7
17. Thanks, SB!
:hi:
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SarahB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #17
24. No problem.
:hi:
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NightWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:19 PM
Response to Original message
8. I use the reuseable blue bags from Ikea


very handy
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:29 PM
Response to Reply #8
19. Those bags are awesome!
I ended up inadvertently using a couple as my laundry baskets for about 9 months, and they worked great! :D
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 01:06 PM
Response to Reply #8
66. Part of my personal commitment to the planet is not shopping at IKEA.
IKEA makes it easy to buy new because so much of the stuff is inexpensive and it's stylish, if not always well made. The cheap prices come with a cost -- a quarter of their furniture stock is from China, a country where much of the wood used comes from illegally harvested timber from Indonesia, Russia, and other countries.

IKEA is far from being alone in this regard, but it's frequently held out as a great place for inexpensive furniture and household goods without thought about where those products are actually made.

The current issue of Mother Jones has an article on China and wood procurement, FWIW. Since 40% of Chinese made wood products end up in the U.S. it's something we as individuals can address by thinking twice before buying new, cheap wooden products from any business and look instead for products made from certified, sustainable resources.

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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #66
80. Wow. I thought IKEA had a commitment to using sustainably-grown?
Maybe I'm making that up, will Google.... (and that said, you're right, it does encourage you to buy new instead of used.)

Am not finding much on Google. Anybody else have any thoughts on this?

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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #80
84. They have a toothless commitment, according to the Mother Jones article.
The problem with Chinese wood is that much of it is illegally harvested in Russia, Indonesia, and other places. Their goal is to have 30% of their wood certified by 2009, but "a company official acknowledged that the expense of guaranteeing its wood's legality is prohibitive."

That's a quote from pg 37 of the Jan./Feb 2008 Mother Jones issue. The whole China article is worth reading.

IKEA is far from the biggest offender in this regard-- at least they have a goal-- but even with their good goal much of their wood could come from unsustainable practices. Note that the official cited cost-- perhaps charging 10% more for their products would provide enough funds to achieve a much higher rate of certified wood products. Let's face it, even at 20% more their stuff is pretty inexpensive.
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CraftyGal Donating Member (602 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:20 PM
Response to Original message
9. I have been knitting and crocheting bags....
now just have to remember to take them with us. Or to leave them in the vehicle as TrogL often is the one who does the shopping.

crafty
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #9
22. That's wicked cool!
I found that the biggest thing that helped us bring ours was to hang them, very visibly, in our front entryway. That way, we see them every time we leave, and are much less likely to forget them!

Got any pics of your bags? I'd love to see them! :)
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CaliforniaPeggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:22 PM
Response to Original message
10. My dear LynzM!
What a terrific story!

Thank you for posting it here today...

It needs to be shouted from the rooftops!

I'm already doing a bunch of things (driving a hybrid car, canvas bags in the store and the Farmer's Mkt., recycling everything possible...)

There is one more thing I can do: Call my city hall, and find out why my city isn't doing as much as the city of Los Angeles is as far as recycling is concerned.

I did do it, last year, and the lady in charge of recycling never got back to me.

Now she will...

K&R

:patriot:
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #10
25. Thanks, Peggy!
Have fun storming the castle!! :rofl:

Seriously, though, I wish you the best of luck and tenacity and perseverance and all things necessary to get through to your city. :thumbsup:
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:23 PM
Response to Original message
11. when we bought the new place 18 months ago, we installed only CFL bulbs
I never go to town with out my canvas bags, I keep my thermostat at 68 degrees, pull the heavy drapes at night and open them in the day to take advantage of the sunshine heat gain

I only make a couple trips into town a week (round trip 20 miles) instead of going every day (last year I drove less than 4000 miles total even when I was working 3 days a week)

I recycle everything including composting and that takes some work as I have to haul all the recyclables into town, no pick up out here.

I buy only used clothing (thank heaven our little town has a decent thrift store)

i make almost all our food from scratch, with as many local products as possible and plan a large veggie garden this year using mostly captured rain water as much as possible

I don't water anything around here unless it gives me food.

until it's time to put up the wind turbine and the solar panels there's not much else I can see to do but I'm open to suggestions...

K&N
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:28 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. good for you - just be careful with the Hg in the bulbs n/t
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #15
20. when one of them finally goes out I'll figure out where to take them
unfortunately they'll all go a once LOL
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #20
31. I hope household haz waste programs can take them?
they'll have to set up something now that incandescents are being phased out via bills Congress passed recently.

Businesses and schools have collection programs for fluorescent bulbs, but the home ones have gotten ahead of the programs for them. Scares me a bit because I think most people have no idea the new bulbs are hazardous waste.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:50 PM
Response to Reply #31
40. they should be good for 5 more years at least
i'll figure it out by then...

:hi:
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:37 PM
Response to Reply #11
30. Dude, you rock!
That's fantastic, seriously! :bounce: I'm not sure what else to tell you... do you have an electric thermostat so you can program it to turn it WAAAY down overnight and when you're not home? (We keep ours at 62 overnight and 60 during the day while we're not here, and 65 when we are... :) )

I don't have any brilliant suggestions to give you for your own household. How 'bout expanding your influence now, work on getting your workplace into the flow of it, and/or places you frequent often?

:hi:
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:48 PM
Response to Reply #30
38. well I have those econo heaters all through the house so the furnace only
Edited on Thu Jan-17-08 07:48 PM by AZDemDist6
kicks on if the outside temps get really cold

I really wanted to hang a clothesline when we got here but it's windy and dusty and hubby's allergies would go nutz!!!

I still use the dryer just to tumble and fluff em up and let them dry the rest of the way on the rack

that's probably the worst energy hog I still use regularly. the other thing I've love to do is kill the phantom energy electronics hogs, but hubby isn't on board with that yet. claims that powering down and up on the fancy entertainment stuff shortens the life of the units by a bunch. since he has an electronics degree, it's hard to argue with him :sigh:

but I have convinced him to turn the water off when he's brushing his teeth. if everybody would just do that we'd save a brazilion gallons of fresh water. with the droughts everywhere, that's a really easy thing to start with.

I'm not working right now so I'm probably spending the gas I save not driving by keeping the house warm but I try to bake something on days I know it's gonna be overcast and cold. warms up the house and makes it smell good too.

:evilgrin:
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:57 PM
Response to Reply #38
42. Ooh, the baking for heat trick!
I've made several unnecessary batches of cookies this winter, myself, LOL.

I admire your lack of dryer (and hippywife's too). I've not yet transitioned to that step, but at least am thinking about the logistics of it, at this point. Think I could pull it off, 3 people in 900 sq. ft of space? Heh. I think jeans and towels are the only things I'd miss putting through there, in the end.

I don't get why people need water on to brush their teeth. Wet the brush, turn the water off. Scrub scrub scrub scrub. Rinse. :)

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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 08:06 PM
Response to Reply #42
46. just start small, find one of those drying racks at the thrift store
and use it for undies and such

you'll find your clothes last much longer too :hi:
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 08:53 PM
Response to Reply #46
47. Good plan.
Trying to figure out where I'd put it, but I'm sure I could find room :)

That's cool about clothes lasting longer!
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 07:37 AM
Response to Reply #47
55. dryers kill elastic
dead.

possible places for the rack

in the garage, in a closet, in a bathtub, at the end of the hall, at the foot of the bed, under the dining room table, on top of the heater vent

in 900 SF I'm sure space is at a premium. good luck!
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #55
60. LMAO
Ok, lemme go through your list:

garage - don't have one
closet - only have two small ones, both are full
bathtub - now this, this could work
hall - don't have one
foot of the bed - 13 inches between bed and closet, no dice
under dining room table - mm, itty-bitty table space taken up by chairs
heater vent - not sure what you mean here, but we don't have any floor vents

The bathtub could definitely work, though :)
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gauguin57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:26 PM
Response to Original message
14. Question for dog owners ...
Edited on Thu Jan-17-08 07:28 PM by gauguin57
... if you don't get plastic bags from the store, what do you use to clean up your dog's poop while you're walking him/her?

I already use reuseable tote bags at the store; but, when I dog-sit for a friend, I use the plastic bags she's collected to clean up after the dog (while walking -- a long way from the dog's home).

Suggestions?
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:29 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. i have an acre
never something I had to worry about but paper would be better if you can figure out a way to do it

those plastic bags are just awful for the environment
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gauguin57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. I know ... but the poop's messy enough with PLASTIC (and you wanna make sure you get it all up ...
... so people don't get ticked off about you leaving poop on the edge of their lawn or in the park or whatever).
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:32 PM
Response to Reply #14
23. the dog cleanup issue
sometimes other packaging - bread bags, plastic wrap around products. Plastic wrap from newspapers if you know someone who subscribes.

for now I mostly use store bags, though they often go through several uses (e.g., keep my lunch from leaking into my tote bag) before they end up as doggie pickup bags.

otherwise, buy small plastic bags (ziploc/baggie knockoffs) from the dollar store :(

can't wait to get my own house and big yard so I can do most of the cleanup baggie-free!
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:41 PM
Original message
How about using
Edited on Thu Jan-17-08 07:41 PM by hippywife
a paper bag and a pooper scooper? :hi:
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:43 PM
Response to Reply #14
35. I find a piece of litter on the ground and use that to clean up the poo.
This worked great when I lived in San Francisco, in the Mission, where there are unfortunately a lot of litter bugs. A soda fountain cup with the plastic lid makes the best poop-scooper. You empty what's left in the cup, and use the lid to push the poo into the cup. Hopefully there's a garbage can nearby.

Now that I live in the suburbs near a high school, where there are also a lot of litter bugs, I use discarded potato chip bags, or fast-food wrappers. Even if my dog doesn't go, I still pick up a few pieces of trash left behind by careless, (presumably) kids.
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InvisibleTouch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #14
37. I can't quite get away from the plastic bags...
...with 5 big dogs and lots of cleanup. But I do scrounge them from all sources, not just grocery bags - and when I have a nice backlog of plastic bags built up, I use the cloth bags for shopping for a while. Paper bags, I use as trash bags, and also the nice big 40-lb dogfood bags. I don't think I've ever in my life bought big plastic trash bags.

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gauguin57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:50 PM
Response to Reply #14
39. thank you to the dog owners ... those are good ideas.
Not a lot of litter where I walk my friend's dog ... but plastic packaging from other sources is a good idea (bread bags, etc.)
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 08:05 PM
Response to Reply #39
45. one other idea - feed the dog high quality food!!
Really! Otherwise it's just in one end out the other if you're basically feeding them cornflakes. I feed my dogs a relatively expensive food but they eat much less volume and they have small poops compared to some dogs their size because they digest most of their food.

Using found chip bags doesn't do it for me though - not that much littering where I am thank goodness, and I have 2 bigs dogs. And paper bags will NOT work when it's snowy! :)

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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #14
64. that's one of the reasons that i will ALWAYS continue to get the plastic grocery bags.
i also use them for garbage, and for scooping out the cat litter, storing things, etc.

at the grocery store, i go thru the self checkout, and double-bag everything, so that i'll have that many more of the plastic bags to use.
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #64
72. You can't carry a
paper bag and a small trowel instead? All that plastic still ends up in the landfill, even if you do reuse it a couple of times.
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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 06:13 PM
Response to Reply #72
75. nope.
i like the plastic bags- and as long as they continue to make them, i will continue to use them.
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 06:37 PM
Response to Reply #75
76. Wow!
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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #76
77. no problem.
nt
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 08:56 AM
Response to Reply #77
78. I find this rather ironic, given your username
Question all, except the negative implications of the choices you make? I'm sorry, I've rarely seen such a self-centered attitude toward the environment here on DU. Well, everyone is entitled to his own choices and actions, but wow.
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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #78
87. what an incredibly ignorant post you've made...
Edited on Sat Jan-19-08 08:44 PM by QuestionAll
what do you know about the "choices" i make? i use plastic grocery bags for garbage bags and to pick up dog crap and for a few other things as well. i don't buy/use large plastic trash bags, i have never bought or used ANY disposable diapers, i bicycle to get where i'm going as much as possible, i compost as much of my food scraps as possible, and use it on our vegetable garden. we're doing an addition this spring, and it's costing us extra to include both passive and direct solar applications, as well as switching over to a geothermal heat pump.

those are just some of the choices and actions i've made. and yes, i will continue to use the plastic grocery bags for as long as they make them- and probably well beyond, considering the size of my stockpile.

but you just keep on judging others that you know virtually nothing about, if that's what works for you. :hi:
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 08:58 PM
Response to Reply #87
88. You're right, I made that comment without knowing your background
You chose to make statements in a rather confrontational tone without giving us any of that background, and so I judged you harshly on the basis of that. I apologize for jumping to conclusions, and I applaud the things that you do to conserve, with sincerity.
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Redstone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:41 PM
Response to Original message
34. One other way: Go to Home Depot and buy Compact Fluorescent lighbulbs. Only 7 bucks for
a pack of four.

With a CF, you can provide as much light as a 60-Watt incandescent bulb, while only using 13 watts of electricity.

Furthermore, they last for 8 to 10 years, and you can get daylight-spectrum versions for the same price.

Redstone
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 07:59 PM
Response to Reply #34
43. Thanks, Redstone!
:thumbsup: We've switched almost every bulb in our house to fluorescent or CF in the past year! Glad to hear you have, too! :bounce:
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Pool Hall Ace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 08:02 PM
Response to Original message
44. Thank you for all of these great tips.
:hi:
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #44
49. Isn't it great!
:bounce: :hi:
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 09:06 PM
Response to Original message
48. All my trees are prollee going to freeze tonight.
Makes me very sad.
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 09:16 PM
Response to Reply #48
50. That's a bummer...
What kind of trees do you have around?
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-17-08 09:23 PM
Response to Reply #50
51. Grapefruit, ficus, palms and then that big thing that sort of resembles
something cedar, but it is too huge to be that, but I don't really know what it is. It should be ok, but the others :cry:
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 06:57 AM
Response to Reply #51
54. Oh dude, I'm sorry.
That really sucks. :( I hope it either doesn't get cold enough, or the trees are hardier than you hope... :hug:
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 08:11 AM
Response to Reply #54
57. Well it's morning and I'm afraid to look.
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 08:05 AM
Response to Original message
56. Might I please recommend that some of you consider
becoming vegetarians? :)

And please encourage your local area to invest in public transportation!
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #56
61. Oh yes!! Eat less (or no!) meat!
That's a great conservation suggestion that I forgot to mention, Thom, sorry!

Public transportation rocks, and I cannot wait to be able to take full advantage of it!

:hi:
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #56
79. I got the local mom n pop to stock a line of vegetarian food.
It comes in recyclable packaging and has been a huge hit in the neighborhood. :party:
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 04:31 PM
Response to Reply #79
86. That's awesome! What brand?
:)
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 09:36 PM
Response to Reply #56
89. Or just trying meatless alternatives, if you don't want to give up meat.
Like soy milk. I'm not a vegetarian, but I prefer soy milk. My boyfriend is lactose intolerant, and I finally got him to try soy milk on his cereal, now he's hooked. Fake meat is tasty, too. Although some purists argue that it's processed, therefore not as good as real meat.

Oh, and shop at farmer's markets and local produce stands. Fresh is always better than cannned!
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bullwinkle428 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 08:20 AM
Response to Original message
58. Great post, LynzM! I try to encourage people to learn about "hypermiling",
which is all about maximizing the fuel efficiency of whatever you happen to drive as a personal vehicle. There is a terrific website that explains all of it:

http://www.cleanmpg.com /

The large majority of those posting in the forums tend to be green-oriented, which is a nice bonus as well!
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 10:49 AM
Response to Reply #58
62. Cool!
I will check that site out, as I could definitely stand to get more miles. I'm embarassed about my fuel milage but not willing to spend the money to trade up for a better car, as I will have NO car in about 8 months! :bounce:
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Le Taz Hot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 08:31 AM
Response to Original message
59. I know our household has had a major
conversion in the last 3 years or so.

-Recycle-to-trash ratio: 2:1
-Started gardening in essentially "dead" spots all around my yard (including the sides).
-Started TWO compost piles
-I've always canned my own fruits and veggies so I reuse jars and lids year after year.
-Rarely eat take-out food or pre-packaged foods.
-Buying in bulk means less packaging to throw out. (Note: you can still buy flower in flour sacks -- use the flour and use the material when it's empty = NO waste.)
-Changed most of my light bulbs to the spiral thingies (I can't remember the acronym).
-Buy local at the one of the two farmer's markets I can walk to or ride the bus to.
-When the weather is nice, use public transportation probably 80% of the time.

All these efforts add up really quickly. Now, if we can just get the fast-food generation to get on board, we MAY have a chance to save our planet.

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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #59
63. Awesome, dude
That's a really excellent list of things you're doing! We try to buy in bulk as much as possible from our local food co-op, with the same ideas in mind about reusing bulk packages, or bringing our own re-usable packages to shop with!
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InvisibleTouch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 12:25 PM
Response to Original message
65. Giving a kick for Friday afternoon. n/t
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #65
69. Thanks, I.T.
Another kickeroo from me! :bounce:
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Eurobabe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-18-08 01:46 PM
Response to Original message
70. It's easy to do all this in Europe
Edited on Fri Jan-18-08 01:46 PM by 48percenter
Stores don't give out bags, you HAVE to recycle, it's a pleasure to ride the trains, the washers are more economical and less wasteful, ditto for dishwashers, cars are smaller use less gas. Mostly everyone uses the new lightbulbs. People ride bikes, stores are closed on Sundays. Houses are built like bomb shelters and therefore more energy efficient.

Did I miss anything? :shrug:

:hi:

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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 09:08 AM
Response to Reply #70
82. I know!!
I cannot wait to get to Germany, and recycle 8-ways-to-Sunday! :rofl: And I'm really looking forward to not owning a car, and not driving, wa-hoo!
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Eurobabe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 09:31 AM
Response to Reply #82
83. :)
If you live in the city, you don't need a car, but where we are - out in the sticks - it is a must have...bus connections just don't cut it.

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NC_Nurse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 12:42 PM
Response to Original message
85. Started riding the bus this year.
Been recycling for years.
Keep our heat low and wear sweaters and coats in the house.
Fans instead of AC until it gets unbearable (over 90 with high humidity).
Still have some areas I can work on. Great article.
Thanks for all the good ideas! :-)
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-19-08 09:47 PM
Response to Reply #85
90. Good for you, NC Nurse :)
Those are great things, and you're welcome! :hi:
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