Monday, October 15, 2007

What I've done to reduce my environmental impact

Last week, I signed up our blog for Blog Action Day - "an initiative to get blogs around the world to write a post on the environment on that day (and thereby spark a mass discussion on creating a better/more sustainable future...)." But aided by (not) great internet connectivity (thanks Verizon) and being the last minute person I am, I've decided to take the easy route and share some things I've done in the last month to reduce my environmental impact:
  1. Found a more eco-friendly dry cleaner. Instead of going to the oh-so-cheap dry cleaners in my office building, I took some time to find a more environmentally friendly one in my area via Green Earth Cleaning. See also this post from Treehugger (the CO2 cleaners are better that the ones that use a silicone-based substances).
  2. Shared clothes. What's even better than having sisters? Good friends :) I cleaned out a bunch of clothes from my closet and while the bags were sitting in my room, ready to be donated, I pulled out some nice office clothes that don't fit me and gave them to a friend - they worked perfect for her. In exchange, I'm going shopping at another friend's closet next weekend.
  3. Bought used items. I maybe spent a bit more time, but I saved money, protected something from ending up in a landfill, and got some fun stories to share. Spending the extra time searching for what I wanted also made me think twice about whether I really needed it. If you have an active craigslist in your area, it's pretty amazing (and addictive). Check out estate sales too - it's pretty interesting to see what sort of stuff people accumulate over their lifetimes. And if you're like me, you'll find some really cool old skool appliances for real cheap.
  4. Carpooled. For real. I even picked up a hitchhiker at the airport yesterday. (Well not really, but it was kinda like that)
  5. Used public transport to go to work. Even though the metro doubled my commuting time (but 30min ain't that bad), I stayed comitted to public transit for the month. Well, all except for a couple of days ;)
  6. MOST IMPORTANTLY - didn't buy anything new (other than #1 below) for the ENTIRE month of Ramadan. In case you're wondering, it was really hard. I'll write another post about my experiences and where I'd like to go with my personal "Compact" post-Ramadan.
Things I probably should not have done:
  1. Buy two amazing metal spatulas - perfect for icing cakes - on the last day of Ramadan. The justification: I really needed them? I make a lot of iced cakes? I can lend them to someone who wants to make an cake?
  2. Fly home. I should have hiked the Appalachian Trail (the good 'ol AT) but fasting and walking just does not mesh. Ok so I'm kidding about this one. But airplane travel is grossly carbon intensive. Plus, being the transportation expert that I am, I've heard that the CO2 emitted at higher altitudes has a more significant/faster warming impact than those that come from ground level emissions. (I'll add the link to the research once I find it...) I need to look into the possibility of carbon offsets here.
Things I need to do:
  1. Get a bike. The really fast motorized kind is more to my liking, but I think the two-wheeled, low tech bicycle is what I need. It'll be great exercise and totally boost my green creds.
  2. Replace the light bulbs in my apartment. We have massively inefficient light fixtures and a electricity system that creates DISincentives to conserve energy (I need to talk to the management about this..).
  3. Eat less meat. It's part of the being healthy thing with #1. But its hard when there's a great kabob place (literally) in your backyard. See this article from the LA Times today.
What about you? [For another great post on consumption and the environment, see this.]

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day


Mohamad A. Chakaki said...

did you really pick up a hitchhiker home from the airport???


anilamuhammad said...

I have reduced buying stuff besides food. Even in buying food I have realized how much I buy that I do not really need. While on the topic of food I was able to get a bag full of veggies from a friend's garden. Yummy

By the way about the hitchhiker, I think it is a good idea in that it reduces emissions by car pooling. Just makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. How were you able to get over your fear? Or am I the only one who has this fear?

Sanjana said...

sorry to disappoint, but we actually didn't pick up a hitchhiker. what really happened - we were rushing to catch the parking shuttle at dulles and a friend who was waiting for another bus flagged us down so we offered him a ride back to georgetown. we just like to call him a hitchhiker bc he's a (miskeen) undergrad :)

anilamuhammad said... I feel better

Sanjana said...

check out this graphic on blog posts for the day

Dina Badawy (United States) said...

although i wasn't really following the compact from the beginning, every ramadan i try to re-evaluate just how much crap i buy. this year it was a little challenging because i was moving apartments.

but i found some cool ways to decorate my place without spending money. instead of using picture frames from walgreens or something, i got rope and clothespins and put up some pictures and artwork. it actually looks really cool! ill take pics and post them to my blog if anyone wants to verify the legitimacy of my claim :)