A few MORE New Year’s environmental resolutions
Three years ago I offered nine New Year’s environmental resolutions for Lakeville Journal readers to consider; they were: Recycle more; Avoid unnecessary containers; Eat less meat, more vegetables; Drive less; Think carefully before building; Protect trees, especially older ones; Do you need to plant grass?; Compost your vegetable waste; Donate to environmental groups.
Here are a few more suggestions for those wanting to do more to protect and improve our environment, small actions that could make a significant difference if enough individuals do them.
Transportation. Where feasible, don’t fly (it’s the most polluting form of transportation), even driving is better for the environment. Take the train.when possible (the Biden Infrastructure Act has allocated $ 65 billion for improvements to our national railroad system, much of it for the Northeast). Weekenders should consider riding the train to and from New York City, saving money on fuel and parking while reducing their global warming emissions.
Business. Support local businesses. Our towns and villages are not doing as well as they might, mostly because of internet/ mail order shopping and “big box” stores. While it’s true that the local shops may cost a little more, they are apt to provide better, more personal service And if they close we may be left with ghost towns. Whatever business you can do locally will benefit our community. Encourage commercial diversity. Don’t forget to patronize our local farms; buy local produce.
Lighting. Except where light quality is of utmost importance, replace incandescent lightbulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs. But where color quality is paramount, consider color corrected incandescents from Lumiram (Chromalux) and others (they are more expensive initially but longer lasting than ordinary incandescent bulbs). Both fluorescent and LED bulbs have improved both in quality and variety. But pick your replacements carefully; for example many of these bulbs are not dimmable if that is a consideration. But replacing incandescents with fluorescents or LEDs can reduce energy use and save significant money.
Water. While the Northwest Corner is blessed with ample, high quality fresh water, all of us without our own wells pay for it directly, Maybe it’s time for many of you to replace your old water wasting toilets with newer models that use on average only one quarter as much water. For your garden, typically water only what is annual or newly planted (you might make an exception in a time of extraordinary drought). Don’t water your lawn that may have turned brown — it will green up again when it becomes cooler and rains.
Gardening. If you haven’t already, grow some fruits and vegetables to eat (even if you do not have any place to do so, Salisbury and other towns have community gardens). If you are doing so already, consider expanding your fruit and vegetable garden and freeze or can what you can’t use right away. It probably won’t save you any money but will provide considerable satisfaction and make you feel more at home with your surroundings.
Waste. Reduce in countless ways. Use as little plastic as possible. Bring your own food containers to the store. Use your own tote bag instead of paper bags from the store. Be frugal in your purchasing, especially at the food market. Save leftovers for future use (your dog is sure to endorse this). For those who chronically have extra food, The Corner Food Pantry in Lakeville (860 435-9886) donates food to those in need.
Electronics. Do we really need all the devices we have acquired or as many new ones as we are thinking about getting? It would make sense to really turn our devices off when we aren’t using them instead of leaving them in a low level of on which wastes a significant amount of power.
Avoid. Most dry cleaning chemicals, synthetic pesticides, cosmetics, synthetic fragrances, air fresheners, scented candles, etc. could all be replaced with natural products free of dangerous chemicals (chlorine, a major cleaning chemical, was the original poison gas used in World War 1). Shop around for more environmentally friendly products. Many common products have hidden environmental costs. Palm oil is found in nearly half the products on supermarket shelves; but throughout East Asia, Africa, and South America, palm oil plantations are replacing climax forests such as at the Amazon, that we need to capture carbon. Use other oils where possible.
Government. Pay attention to what your elected representatives and officials are saying and doing. As it happens, nearly all of our elected officials from the northeastern portion of this country, including Connecticut, are much more environmentally friendly than those from other sections (President Biden’s environmental initiatives have been recently thwarted by Senators from West Virginia and Arizona). Contribute to political campaigns — where it might really help. Stay informed and vote.
Architect and landscape designer Mac Gordon lives in Lakeville.