Alice and I have been talking about the big and small ways that universities could act to improve the environment, but Earth Day is also about making personal changes to lessen your environmental impact.
So it’s fitting that Mike Dunford has issued us an Earth Day challenge:
I’d like you to take a minute or two to come up with three things that you can do to be more environmentally friendly. The first should be something that’s small, and easy to do. The second should be more ambitious – something you’ll try to do, but might not manage to pull off. The third should be something you can do to improve something you’re already doing.
While your mulling your response to Mike’s challenge (please share on your blog or in our comments), I’ll share the items I’ve come up with.
Small: Actively work to deplete our extra freezer so that we can turn it off before the summer heat sets in and the electricity usage really jumps up. (It’s in our non-climate controlled garage.)
Bigger: Eat vegan for weekday lunches. This idea was inspired by a piece on tonight’s ATC about cafeterias banning beef and cheese on Earth Day, because of the environmental impacts of these foods. While going to look for that link for you, I also found an essay on the NPR website arguing that we should VB6: be vegan before 6. While that sounds like an excellent idea, it’s probably not doable for me. But making a conscious effort to eat vegan lunches may well be doable, and I can’t wait to try. Black bean burritos are my all-time favorite food anyway, so I’ll forgo the sour cream and be happy as a clam. And when I get tired of MU’s burritos, I’ll have to bring a lunch, which will probably force me to be more creatively vegan outside of lunch hours too.
Better: You know I’m a big proponent of double-sided printing, and I’m frustrated by its inaccessibility at MU. When I’m done with single-sided print outs, I sometimes stick them back in my desktop printer or I bring them home for Minnow to color. But I don’t do this all of the time, and a lot of perfectly good single-sided paper makes it into my recycle bin. So I’ll aim to improve my reuse rate for single-sided printer paper by having a dedicate reuse bin on my desk.
Even if you’ve missed Earth Day 2009 by the time you see this post, I encourage you to think about the small, bigger, and better things you can do to the be the change you want to see. What will you do?