Green? Me? It's easy.
Eight simple steps to becoming a greener citizen.
With some predicting climate catastrophe in the near future, the need to be green is greater than ever. And even if those dire predictions don’t pan out, being green simply makes good sense, and assures that future generations will inherit the promise of a better world.
So what can you do to lead a more sustainable life today? Corey Williams, founder and executive director of Sustainable Tulsa, says the initial key is to get people to see the value of sustainable living and then to act voluntarily.
“People get sensitive when they’re told what to do and how they should live,” she says. “We’re Americans and we want to do what we want, when we want. I hope that we do not get hung up there. We also should think about what we want the world to be like for grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Here are just a few of many things you can do to start living more sustainably today, according to local experts.
Monitor the energy usage in your home. Most of us don’t think about how our heating and cooling leads to pollution and consumption of dwindling resources. Monitor your thermostats or get automated thermostats. Improve your insulation and weather stripping.
Lighting. Rely more on natural lighting in your home or business. Retrofit or remodel to accommodate this. Install compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Be aware that CFLs do contain some mercury, which, if broken, could be a hazard. LED lighting is even better but more expensive. Then again, such lights tend to have an extremely long life.
Consumerism. Pay closer attention to your consuming habits. Today, 99 percent of what a person buys in six months goes into a landfill, says Sean Griffin, president of Sustainable Tulsa. For example, when you buy a box of laundry detergent, you also own the box and that box goes in a landfill, he says. Cut back on paper towels and use cloth towels instead. Get your shoes re-soled instead of buying new ones. Think: Do I need this, or do I want this?
Recycle. So what if it costs an extra $2. That’s a small price to pay for a better world for your grandkids. The M.e.t. operates 11 recycling centers. Find the nearest one to you and use it. Reduce your curbside garbage. Compost your lawn clippings, coffee grounds and other organics. Remember, recycling creates more jobs than dumping garbage in a landfill, says Laureen Gibson Gilroy, recycling coordinator for the City of Tulsa.
Buy local goods. Do you really need all that cheap Chinese-made stuff that was shipped around the globe? Do you really need fruits and vegetables from California, Florida, Honduras and Mexico when much of the same produce is available seasonally from local producers?
Plant a garden. Better yet, grow some of the foods you need. It will save you money, and give you a greater respect for farmers and the environment. Plus, it’s fun! Advocate that your neighborhood association plant a community garden.
Plant trees. Tulsa needs help recovering from the 2007 ice storm, and Up with Trees can’t do it all.
“Put one in your yard or business,” says Anna America, Up with Trees executive director. She says well-sited trees can save energy in your home cooling bills and can make your home more appealing and valuable.
Get involved. Learn more about sustainability. Attend civic meetings. Form a neighborhood group committed to sustainable living practices. If you are interested in recycling, attend the Tulsa Master Recyclers’ training. The group is forming a nonprofit organization. For information, visit www.cityoftulsa.org/environment/recycling/masterrecyclers.asp.
Also, consider attending sessions of Greening the 918, presented by Sustainable Tulsa and Mayor Kathy Taylor’s Green Team. Sessions started last November but continue each month through October. Upcoming topics include: Green Space, Solid Waste Management and Reduction, Water Quality and Conservation, Green Energy and others. For more information, call 808-6576 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.