What does "going green" mean?
Going ‘green’ does not only involve recycling...going green involves much more.
Basically, going green means to live life, as an individual as well as a community,in a way that is friendly to the natural environmental and is sustainable for the earth. It means contributing towards maintaining the natural ecological balance in the environment, and preserving the planet and its natural systems and resources. It also means taking steps, whether big or small, to minimize the harm you do to the environment (including the carbon footprints you leave behind), as a result of inhabiting this planet.
In practice, going green means adopting five basic principles in your daily life:
- Reduce pollution
- Conserve resources
- Conserve energy
- Reduce consumption and waste
- Protect the earth’s ecological balance
All five principles are important in protecting the environment from harm, as well as helping to ensure that living (for humans and other creatures) on earth is sustainable.So if you adopt some practices under each of the above principles in your daily life, you will make a difference!
Your Carbon Footprint
A "Carbon Footprint" is the measure of the total amount of greenhouse gases (usually expressed in carbon dioxide - a poisonous gas) emitted as a result of all your daily activities. From driving to work, using the computer or any other appliance, or even taking a vacation will cause you to contribute to the burning of fossil fuels, which is what provides direct or indirect energy to support human activity.
Think about it...what is your favorite object in the whole wide world? Let's say it is your cell phone...now think about all the parts that make that cell phone work (fuel was used to make these)...think about how many miles each of those parts traveled from the place that it was made (could be as far as China), then all the way to your local store in Hawaii someplace (fuel was used all throughout the transportation of your phone) - even after you purchase it and each time you charge it up (using energy, which in turn uses fuel) contributes to the carbon footprint. Well, buying that cell phone is just a minor example of how you, and all of us contribute to the carbon footprint...now think about everything you do daily, everything that we buy, consume, toss-out! It's obviously difficult not to contribute to the carbon footprint, but just being conscious of our actions by not purchasing unnecessary objects, by walking, or riding bike places instead of driving, by taking a bag with you to the grocery store instead of using plastic bags, etc. - just adopting one of these can reduce your carbon footprint significantly! So what are you waiting for?
Did you know that the type of foods we eat can actually determine whether we are putting added strain on our environment? Meat and dairy typically require more resources and energy to produce than plant-based foods. Over time, this can increase strain on land, water and our climate. The good news is that you can make a difference to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the use of agricultural resources. The added bonus - your body will thank you for eating cleaner and healthier!
Recycling is the process of taking a product after use and using all or part of it to make another product. Recycling is a simple, but effective way to start to helping out the environment. Many items that can be recycled are items made from materials such as aluminum, plastic water bottles, glass and certain kinds of paper.
- 82 million tons of materials are recycled in the United States.
- 53.4 % of all paper products are being recycled.
- Each person produces 4.6 lbs. of trash per day in the United States.
Find a recycling center near you! Check out the City and County of Honolulu's website for more information about what goes in each bin, and more tips and info: www.opala.org
Sustainability is the capacity to endure without damaging the earth. It means to live from the resources that surround you without having to add to your carbon footprint. Sustainability is using and reusing resources in a way that does not deplete or permanently damage those resources. Sustainability concerns the preservation of the environment, it is directly linked to human consumption and can even be influenced or be a part of our cultural and political practices.
Living Sustainably starts with being fully aware of how ALL our actions contribute to ALL the things mentioned above. Here are some tips to guide you on your way to taking on a more sustainable lifestyle:
Buy sustainable food and products
- Why would you buy a mango from Mexico at your local food store when your Uncle has a mango tree in his backyard?
- Visit your local Goodwill or thrift store - the treasures you will find (from killer clothes to dishware, to a surprising knick-knack) are amazing!
- Remember - Buying Local is sustainable!
- Click here to learn more on buying sustainable!
Be conscious of how you use transportation
- If you can avoid driving your car, or avoid having a friend pick you up to go to a place nearby...if you can ride a bike or walk, then JUST DO IT!
Save water by being aware of how much you use
- Cut your showers by two minutes; convert to a water efficient shower head; sweep your driveway instead of hosing it down; use a water efficient washing machine and dishwasher; use a dual-flush toilet; reduce the time you water your garden
- Saving water also means that you take note on how others (local farmers and businesses) are using the water - including what kinds of chemicals they are allowing to seep into our water source. This is everyone's responsibility!
Recycle, Reuse, Reduce
Composting is nature's process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost. Anything that was once living will decompose. Basically, backyard composting is an acceleration of the same process nature uses. By composting your organic waste you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue. Finished compost looks like soil–dark brown, crumbly and smells like a forest floor.
Types of composting:
- Backyard composting — If you have a yard and a balance of browns (fallen leaves or straw) and greens (grass clippings and food scraps), you have all you need to make compost.
- Worm composting (vermicomposting) — If you have a tiny yard or live in an apartment or have an abundance of food scraps, this type of composting is for you.
- Grasscycling — If you have grass clippings and don't want to use them in a compost pile you can leave them on the lawn to decompose. Read about grasscycling for tips, techniques and benefits.
The information above was borrowed from Recycle Works of San Mateo County.
Our world is always changing. Look out your window long enough, and you might see the weather change. Look even longer, and you'll see the seasons change. The Earth's climate is changing, too, but in ways that you can't easily see.
Global Warming as well as freeze-overs have always been a natural process for the earth, as early as when the earth began its formation. But today's kind of global warming simply means the Earth is getting warmer from heat-trapped gasses (of which some continue to be natural and produced by the earth itself). But human activity has caused a significant rise in more unnatural, man-made gasses. This has caused the natural process of global warming to shift into high-gear. Since the Industrial Revolution came about and as human populations around the world continue to grow, so does global warming...exacerbated by pollution, heat from a concentration of roads and buildings in urban areas, fumes and fossil fuel burning from factories, vehicles, and other forms of gas producing technologies; in general, most of what we consume [that is not naturally grown] or produce contributes to unnatural gasses in our atmosphere).
Greenhouse Gasses are also a global warming phenomena. This is caused by heat being trapped by objects (such as buildings and roads). Unfortunately, warmer temperatures are causing other changes around the world, such as melting glaciers and stronger storms - just look at the eastcoast storm Sandy and the tornado that struck Oklahoma killing hundreds of people. These changes are happening because the Earth's air, water, and land are all linked to the climate. The Earth's climate has changed before, but this time is different. People are causing these changes, which are bigger and happening faster than any climate changes that modern society has ever seen before.
Preparing to get your driver's license? Already passed the test and on the road? Be smart, safe and responsible by learning about driver's education, the rules of the road, understanding car insurance and vehicle care, and important tips and facts about distracted driving as well as the consequences of alcohol, underage drinking and driving.