Green Resolutions for the New Year

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Tompkins Weekly 01/07/2013

By Wendy Skinner

At this time of New Year’s resolutions, is anyone resolving to be more green? I recently posted that query on the Tompkins County Human Services Coalition listserv, a group of 2,200 subscribers who work in the helping professions, arts, education, and news media—as well as others who peruse the list for notice of cultural events and job listings.

I asked: 1.) In 2012, did you change anything about the way you live, to reduce energy use or otherwise be more protective of the planet’s health? 2.) Do you have plans to change anything about how you live, work, travel, shop etc., to be more green in 2013? I also asked for the respondent’s age, and gave a promise of anonymity.

Here’s my report from this very unscientific survey.

Just under two percent of the list replied. All but five were women. Most were over 30 years old. The biggest age concentration was 50 to 60, with four people over 60, and one over 70. All but one person answered the questions in the affirmative.

Of the topics people wrote about, transportation topped the list, followed by diet and food sourcing, home energy use, recycling and buying local. Three people mentioned being active in the anti-fracking movement. One person described an extensive effort to recycle medical x-ray films.

People who listed changes in transportation habits made some big gestures. Three said they went from two household cars to one, and four bought or plan to buy a hybrid vehicle. Three people said they used buses more, and twice that number said they would in the future. Three people said they had or plan to offset air travel by contributing to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund. The Fund invests in energy efficient projects for lower-income housing to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Eating better food was the next most-mentioned topic: buying locally grown organic produce, eating at home more often, reducing meat consumption, having a home garden, and putting up food.

The next largest number of respondents listed changes or plans for energy savings at home. They described buying more energy-efficient heaters, improvements in sealing windows, and adding insulation. One person described plans for a smaller, greener retirement home.

A few direct quotes from the survey:

“We are retired and are selling, donating and recycling all the things we no longer need. Family heirlooms are now Christmas and birthday presents.”

“In 2012 we bought canvas grocery bags and used them each time we went shopping. We bought a hybrid car. We ate local produce from the farmers market and from a family garden. We picked fruit at local farms to freeze and can for winter.”

“[I plan to] move out of a town that has a pro-fracking town board to one that has a proactive town board that is resisting fracking and all the environmental and human-health ills it guarantees.”

“I printed fewer documents than ever before. I only used one ream of paper every two months. I plan to hold more web meetings so I can reduce the amount of travel and fuel consumption.”

My unscientific conclusion to this survey is that I am proud to be part of a community that is being green in a variety of large and small ways, and that resolves to be even greener.

Wendy Skinner is the coordinator of SewGreen, a not-for-profit textile reuse and sewing education program in downtown Ithaca.

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