I’ve been writing a sustainability tip for my company’s internal newsletter for about two years. When I started, I had to go searching for sustainability tips, and found some good ones from places like the Georgia Conservancy.
But things changed quickly, especially as people started to figure out that climate change might actually be a problem. Not long after I started writing my tips, magazines started running “green” features and “green” issues, with helpful tips like change to CFL light bulbs, and buy a designer reusable shopping bag. (The Onion nailed this with their “Obligatory Green Issue” — which I’d link to, only their archives suck.)
Nowadays green advice comes from everywhere, including the American Psychological Association’s annual meetings. Here are two tidbits of their advice I covered in my newsletter:
1) Walking outside rather than inside — even for just 15 minutes — makes you feel happier, more energetic and more protective of the environment, two studies found.
2) “One of the first things you think of is turning off lights when you leave a room or changing the thermostat settings in the house. They don’t think first of caulking windows or upgrading your furnace,” says Paul Stern, a researcher at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
“More insulation in the attic and tight windows make more difference than changing the thermostat setting. Having a more fuel-efficient car makes more difference than any amount you’re likely to decrease driving.” (Source: USA Today)
Two weeks later, I found three more. This is also from my newsletter:
1) The United Nations is hitting us where we eat. Last week Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that people should reduce their meat consumption. Though his comments are controversial, the UN estimates meat production accounts for nearly one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions (more).
2) Instead of “Drill, baby, drill!” the American Physical Society urged the US last week to insulate, baby, insulate. The 46,000-member group suggested that with current or almost-on-the-market technologies, buildings could be made dramatically more efficient — enough to cut projected energy use in U.S. buildings 30 percent by 2030.
3) Tinkerbell is teaming up with the US Dept. of Energy to help teach kids how to save energy — too bad Consumer Reports is arguing that one Tink/DOE recommendation, Energy Star, “saves energy but hasn’t kept up with the times.”
Now, when you Google “sustainability tip,” the advice comes from schools, magazines, newspapers, the American Association of Pediatrics, conservation nonprofits, the city of Canterbury in New Zealand, and even the San Diego International Airport.
This last one a delightful bit of dark irony. Why? Though the airport lists 30 sustainability baby-step tips (“Save old tattered towels and t-shirts for cleaning. Cut them into squares to replace store-bought rags and paper towels.”), they omit the elephant in the room that applies directly to them: flying.
How bad is flying? One transatlantic flight for a family of four creates more CO2 than that family generates in an entire year.
So it’s all well and good that the airport is telling me to save my t-shirts. But it’s also good to get your sustainability tips from places a little more credible than Tinkerbell and the airport.