Beyond Lightbulbs: How to Go Green at Home-scale

Many articles exist out there about “going green” at home. Stressing, small, easy-to-follow steps concerning conservation, such as installing a low-flow toilet, or switching to compact fluorescent lightbulbs, these tips only scratch the surface of a very large problem. They also assiduously ignore a major cause of global climate change: large corporations and political entities who enable them. Home-scale solutions are necessary, but they shouldn’t fall solely within the realm of consumer choice. Do we care about our planet only enough to make conscience-salving consumer goods, or do we want to get to the root of things? Let’s take a look at some more concerted conservation and what you can do close to home to save our environment.

Get Rid of Your Car

Yes, you could get a hybrid, or an electric car. But let’s question the fundamentals of car culture in the first place. Why is it necessary that everyone should own a car

It’s true that we live on a large continent and rural communities often do not have public transit infrastructure to support those without cars. But urban populations can certainly take busses, subways, light rail, or commute by bike.

Less cars means better air quality, less annoying traffic congestion on the road, less noise pollution from engines and it spurs better urban design. You’d be significantly curtailing your carbon footprint, as well and taking a large step toward helping to build a sustainable future.

Alternative Energy

Home-scale solar energy doesn’t have to be daunting. By affixing panels to your roof, or out in your yard, you collect a free resource, photovoltaic energy, which can be stored in a battery array.

If you don’t feel up to installing your own system, you could pay a contractor to do it.

One other solution is paying your regular utilities service provider to provide sustainable energy from wind farms, a service that is becoming increasingly popular.

Gardening and CSA’s

Growing one’s own food offers us a tangible connection to the earth and a reason to treat it with maximum care and respect. It keeps us alive.

If you have enough space in your yard, grow a garden. If you don’t team up with some folks to create a community garden. You could buy food at a farmer’s market. Or connect with some local farmers who operate a CSA.

CSA’s (community supported agriculture), are a means for small-scale farmers to directly interface with the public and it allows them to gain consistent financial support. The basics are simple: for a flat fee, you get a share, a weekly selection of what’s ready on the farm. While this most commonly means vegetables, it can also include meat, dairy, eggs, herbs or honey. People get creative. You’re much more likely to support your local farmers when you see them and speak to them.

Help Organize the Community

Who are the major polluters in your area? Find out. Talk to your neighbors about it. While the environment has become heavily politicized, it needn’t be. We all need clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, a planet that supports diverse, healthy life.

If there is an environmental organization that you feel a personal affinity with, join up, or offer support in any way you can. It doesn’t even have to be financial. Going door to door canvassing about a specific issue doesn’t cost a thing, nor does tabling at public events with free literature describing what’s going on. Conservation choices involve taking personal responsibility. Take it one step further and organize.

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