The Earth Day program I watched recently on television gave me a lot of food for thought. It covered aspects of the subject that had never occurred to me and caused me to evaluate my own actions and choices. I am constantly looking for ways to lighten my footprint on this Earth that provides me with all I need and then some. I can’t honestly claim that all my decisions are ecologically correct, but where I differ, I either do so out of ignorance or deliberate choice. For instance, I still buy some out of season produce that comes from some distance by plane, often from half a world away.
I think the thing that bothers me the most is the plethora of plastic containers used to buy ready-made dishes of food in one or two serving sizes. I look forward to the day when I can buy them in biodegradable containers. I figure they are a tradeoff. If I bought all the ingredients in the sizes they are sold in, I would have food go to waste since I live alone and wouldn’t be able to eat everything fresh before it spoils.
I figure I do pretty well on water saving. This has been an issue in Pullman for some years now as our water table lowers. I take short showers, run the dishwasher and clothes washer only with full loads or, in the case of clothes, partial loads sometimes. I xeriscaped my yard several years ago and now have gravel instead of lawn, which with my thin layer of topsoil and soil of any kind never did thrive. I now have only flower beds and pots to water and I’m increasing my drip irrigation system to cover more ground.
I still drive an old gas-powered car but it gets fantastic mileage and I probably drive it only a few miles when I do drive it out. With my double vision, driving on two lane roads is dangerous so my occasional trips to Moscow on that lovely stretch of four lane traffic with rumble strips is the extent of my out-of-town driving. I fill my tank about once every four months in good weather. In bad weather my car stays in the garage and I have to remember to have my helper guy run it on idle every so often to keep the battery charged.
Most of my yard care power tools operate on electricity such as string trimmer and blower.
I try to be careful to turn lights out when I leave a room. The exception is the light on the stairway during hours of darkness before I go to bed and that has only a 40-watt bulb in it and that is for safety reasons.
I could probably do better on personal care products but I buy so few and they last so long, that the time it would take for me to read the fine print on the label, even if I could make it out, isn’t worth the effort. I don’t carry a magnifying glass with me.
I recently did a major interior weeding with the help of my daughter and we hauled several car loads of stuff out. I can’t let myself throw out usable items. Some went to Pullman Disposal, via their shredder, some to various charities that can use and accept usable items and Goodwill that recycle fabric by the pound. Habitat hauled out two bookcases and a dresser to their store. Alternatives to Violence was glad to get a lot of my surplus household items and even came out with a cart to haul it in.
I recommend being thoughtful in the choices one makes. It is a very satisfying effort and makes one feel very proud of oneself. I figure it is little enough to do to make our old world a better place.
Harding lived her first 20 and past 43 years in Pullman. A longtime League of Women Voters member, she served on the Gladish Community and Cultural Center board. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.