WISHES FOR THE NEW YEAR / EASILY GREEN (An essay by guest writer Sam Parry)


Friends and blog readers, 
I hate the word tree-hugger. For one thing, I’ve been an environmentalist all my life and have never once hugged a tree. For another, it’s just one more little way that the nitwits undermine common sense dialogue about important environmental issues and marginalize conservation.

“Oh, don’t listen to him, you know – he’s just a tree-hugger.”

It really shouldn’t be that way. In fact, going green is so easy and beneficial that you really are a nitwit if you don’t try.

Just think. The next time you're shopping for a car, and you're down to two or three choices, simply buy the more fuel efficient one. If you drive it 100,000 miles, and you get 30 miles to the gallon instead of 27, you've just saved yourself nearly $1500 (at $4/gallon) and saved the planet 370 gallons of gas, which eliminates about 7000 pounds of carbon dioxide [http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2006/11/how_gasoline_becomes_co2.html].

Or, how about this – if you’re a meat-eater, try one fewer meat-based meals per week. According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency [http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16573-eating-less-meat-could-cut-climate-costs.html], if we all transitioned to a low-meat diet of 70 grams of beef and 325 grams of chicken and eggs per week, we could free up 15 million square kilometers of farmland. And according to the Environment Working Group [http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/], if a family of four gave up eating steak for just one day a week, it would save as much climate pollution as taking their car off the road for three months.

Oh, and by the way, eating less meat and more vegetables is also a lot healthier.

Safer, greener, biodegradable cleaning products reduce human exposure to toxic chemicals.

Switching to compact florescent lightbulbs saves energy and money – and the trace amount of mercury in CFLs is much less harmful to the environment than the coal used to generate much of our electricity.

Taking public transportation cuts down on gridlock, is healthier for you (more walking never hurt anyone), reduces pollution, and often saves money – especially if you consider the wear and tear on your car, parking and fuel costs, and the opportunity to lengthen the life of your car by saving the mileage and avoiding the stop and go driving.

And it’s just as easy to support local and national environmental organizations (like Environmental Defense Fund, the one the pays my salary), with an annual donation and thereby adding your voice to regular advocacy opportunities, both online and off.

Life is hard. Work. Kids. Networking. Travel. Planning for retirement, college, and inevitable health costs.

All of it wears you down. But, going green is easy. Simple, in fact.

Kermit the Frog was a childhood favorite. But, he had it wrong. It’s very easy to be green!!

Don’t be a nitwit . . .  


Sam Parry,
Environmental Defense Fund