What we *Can* do…
Just a quick list of things—that if we all did them, would make a positive difference. No, I’m no expert, just a regular guy. Yes, I could def do more. It just feels like a potentially beneficial exercise to post this, in case anyone out there might find even one or two things they hadn’t thought of before and might want to adopt.
On first pass, I want to just do “bullet points” that I may come back and fill in with more details later:
— Remember the 8 billion rule: Multiply what we/you/I do by 8 billion. Ask: would it be sustainable?
— Check the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, used for larger systems such as heat pumps), or CEER (Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio, used most often for window air conditioners) ratings for heat pumps or window air conditioners. Higher is better. Window air conditioners are now available with CEER’s above 15.
— Wear warm clothes *indoors* in winter, to lower carbon footprint. Down vests don’t feel bulky…long johns or snowboarding pants are comfy…fleece neck warmer warms whole body. Even if you can turn the thermostat down by 2 degrees, if everyone does that, it makes a big difference.
— Close off parts of the house to save a/c or heating energy.
— Smaller houses! Around here, new houses are obscenely big, considering the planetary stakes going forward.
— Insulate, especially the attic.
— Here in the NW, PGE (Portland General Electric) has a program where customers can pay a bit extra to source 100%, yes, 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. An encouraging number have done so. See if your utility has something similar.
— Spring for organic food if possible. Organic farmers don’t spray insecticides which kill insects which means less food (or tainted food) for frogs, birds, foxes, hawks, eagles and so on. Agricultural spraying of insecticides worldwide has contributed to an alarming decimation of insect numbers (80% by some estimates), with a catastrophic collapse of insects worldwide possible in the relatively near future. Speaking of eagles, outlawing DDT brought eagles back from the brink—we see them all the time now. IMO most insecticides should be made illegal—pronto—to keep humans from wiping out Earth’s insects.
— Join the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation or other organization of your choice, to pool resources to enable experts in the field to lobby, inform, inspire, write, research, advocate, and legislate to protect what’s left of our natural world.
— Neonicotinoid (neonics) insecticides should definitely be banned, just like DDT has been. Here’s an excellent article about it: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/neonicotinoids-101-effects-humans-and-bees. Neonics permanently disable insect nervous systems, and also harm non-target life—from beneficial soil microbes to birds to deer. What we *can* do now is not buy plants from stores that sell plants treated with neonicotinoids, buy organic produce, and don’t spray insecticides.
— Remove invasive plants, plant native plants. Non-native plants are like a food desert for native insects. Less insects=less birds, less amphibians, and so on up the food chain. We were obliv to native plants at one time…lots to learn…but now we’re native snobs. Progress. Blame it on https://backyardhabitats.org/
— Plant drought tolerant plants, to save fresh water…which salmon/trout etc need more than we do.
— Remove grass lawn, replace with native plants for your local native pollinators https://xerces.org/publications/plant-lists
— Leave the leaves…and dried flower stalks, or anything else that used to be considered an eyesore. Leave it for insects to overwinter in, to lay eggs in, for birds to feed on the seeds & insects crawling on it. We’ve been amazed at the increase in bird activity just by leaving stubble & leaves instead of “cleaning them up” in late fall. Pretty cool.
— Moss control. Sodium percarbonate, bought as powder, dilute with water, spray on roof. It breaks down harmlessly to soda ash, water, and oxygen. Took lots of research to find it, but I’m glad I did because some of the alternative moss treatments are toxic. Do your own research, but put sodium percarbonate on your list of options.
— Drive less. I admit it’s a downer to curtail our “Sunday drives” here in gorgeous Oregon. (First world complaint, I know…) But denial didn’t feel very good either, so…
— Wear clothes till they wear out. If your friends give you side-eye, change your friends not your clothes. (Same for car, furniture, appliances, computers blah blah…)
— Should all 8 billion of us fly around for vacations every year? I have my answer, you’ll have yours…but just think about it. A staycation might be just as relaxing, if not more so. (Yes, we have an advantage…we already live where we would want to vacation if we didn’t live here.)
— Don’t fly. Think how pristine the air is at 36,000 feet. How good an idea is it to fly 100,000 flights up there…per DAY!?! No wonder about climate change…
— Eat more plants, less meat…you know this one, but this is a list so I’m puttin’ it on here.
— Don’t burn stuff. Fire pit, trash, brush. It’s avoidable air pollution.
— Don’t idle with the a/c on. Yes I’ve done it, but minimize it. I have one of those cheesy spritzer bottles with a little fan—it works pretty well if I remember to bring it in the car.
— Lights out at night. For insects, birds, and the beauty of the night sky. https://xerces.org/blog/to-protect-moths-turn-out-lights
— Buy only sustainable seafood. Here’s a good guide to “safe” choices: https://www.seafoodwatch.org/recommendations/download-consumer-guides
Not intending to tell you what to do, just consider. Not sayin’ I’m right, just consider.