Monday, January 2, 2012

Green Things I Did in 2011

Here are some daily and special event things I did last year to reduce my ecological footprint and become more aware of other species around. This may give you some ideas or you may have some ideas to share about how we can all be greener in 2012.
1. Switched to essential oils-based dish soap and detergent to reduce input of chemicals into the water stream when washing.

2. Switched to Honey Mango Moisturizing Shave Cream, again to reduce input of chemicals onto my body and into the water stream.

3. Switched to a vegetable oil-based body soap for the same reasons as above.

4. Switched to a green electricity supplier, from a wind farm in upstate New York. You can probably do this too, for about the same rates, if you call your energy company.

5. Ran in the 5K Race Against Extinction on April 17 in Artesani Park in Boston, organized by the polar bear himself, Jeff Neterval, to help raise awareness about the present extinction crisis. Proceeds went to Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund .

6. Looked for the Asian Longhorn Beetle, an invasive species that is devastating North American forests. This was a chilly April day, but luckily we didn’t find any infestations on the grand trees of Commonwealth Avenue.

7. Chaired the organization of BU’s second annual Ecolympics (, which featured eco-film nights with vegan pizza, a talk on Fair Trade chocolate, a vegetarian cooking class and demo and almost 200 participants taking shorter showers, using re-usable cups, recycling and otherwise reducing their environmental footprints. The US Olympic Committee wrote to me demanding that I change the name under threat of lawsuit, so in 2012 we’ll be known as Eco-Fest.

7. Joined MassAudubon ( and visited four of their nearby wildlife sanctuaries.

8. Got a home energy assessment and found out my insulation was good.

9. Closed my Bank of America account because of their investment in coal mining.

10. Ate vegetarian or vegan more than once a week. This from a lifelong proud meat-eater is something. Check out the book, Comfortably Unaware ( by Richard Oppenlander, if you want some hard-hitting statistics on how the 70 billion animals raised to feed 7 billion people is affecting our planet.

11. Unfortunately, I also took four trips that required flying more than four hours each way, which nullifies the gains that I made. Anyone know of a reliable carbon offset supplier? According to the New York Times maybe this will soon be added to our tickets?

12. Read or started reading some environmental classics like Henry Beston’s The Outermost House, Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, and Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. These are all fine books that will inspire you to be more aware of the impact we have on our surrounding environment.

13. Went on several walks at the Arnold Arboretum in the hopes of being able to understand trees better, even just learning their names.

14. Bought tree-free paper at CVS! 

So far, the shortlist for 2012 includes getting a bird feeder and composting at home and the office.

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