“ The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention. ” — Jacques-Joseph Duguet
Good intentions for making our world more sustainable are evident everywhere, from small business recycling efforts to the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Denmark last month. As more research concerning the impacts of human activities on the environment comes to light, and more governments, businesses and ordinary citizens talk about meaningful change, there’s reason to be optimistic. Talking is good; doing is much better.
With apologies to those who reject the notion of making New Year Resolutions, here are some practical, doable, good-for-the-environment deeds for us consumers to consider pursuing next year. They only scratch the surface of possibilities but any taken beyond intention into action have the power to make 2010 a better year for us all.
Conserve energy at home
Save energy and money at home with Stretch your energy dollar: energy savings and dollar-stretching tips, a comprehensive resource from Seattle City Light. It offers dozens of suggestions for energy savings in every room of your home. You also can download a PDF of "Saving Electricity at Home," a 16-page guide from City Light that suggests how to use energy more efficiently and safely, especially when children are in the home. Download the guide. For even more tips, check out the online Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
To gain a deeper understanding of how your house performs, download the step-by-step "Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit," a publication of the Seattle Department of Planning and Development’s City Green Building program. This 24-page guide offers a handy checklist, explanation of terms and lots of information about the systems and technologies that make your home work and how to make them operate more efficiently.
Another helpful resource is the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick. If you have your utility bills for the last 12 months and you know the square footage of your home, you can compare your home’s energy use to others across the country and receive suggestions for improving it.
Many local utilities offer incentives for saving money while you save energy. Rebates for clothes washers that meet the energy and water-saving WashWise program standards are offered to residential customers of Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Seattle Public Utilities. PSE also will recycle your old refrigerator or freezer for free and give you a $30 rebate.
PCC Natural Markets is all about delicious, sustainably produced food but it’s important to be environmentally responsible in preparing it and there are lots of ways to do so. You can cook beans and grains in half the time using a pressure cooker. Baking or reheating small dishes in a toaster oven uses far less energy than doing so in a regular oven. Opening an oven door only when necessary avoids an up to 25-degree drop in temperature that happens with every peak inside. Learn how to make one-skillet meals or how to cook multiple recipes at once, saving time, money and energy. Sign up today for a PCC Cooks class.
Conserve energy on the road
You may walk, bike or use public transportation whenever possible but there are times when the capacity or convenience of a car makes it a more practical choice. If you only need a car occasionally, car sharing as a member of Zipcar is an option. Carpooling and ridesharing, locally or across the country, is easy to arrange through eRideShare.com. King County Metro offers RideShare, an online way of finding people going your way to work or to public events. Practical energy and money-saving suggestions for car owners including choosing an energy-efficient car, driving more efficiently, keeping your vehicle in shape and planning car trips, are available at fueleconomy.gov.
As we start the new year, you’re not alone in your resolve to live more sustainably. PCC Natural Markets and environmentally responsible individuals and organizations around the world are focused on doing better and doing more. Look for PCC’s new PCC Green section on our Web site, launching at the end of this month. We’ll share PCC’s efforts and challenges regarding being more environmentally and socially responsible, and we’ll welcome your feedback.
With wishes for a safe and more sustainable 2010 … and lots of small, good (and done) deeds.