I've been thinking about the concept of sharing. As children, we were taught to share our toys. As adults, we are encouraged to share what we have with those less fortunate. We share our opinions in surveys, our time through volunteering, and our thoughts by blogging. Whether it is a learned idea or something inherent in our genes, the fact is that we share.
When it comes to green living, a little sharing goes a long way towards a healthier environment. Here are a few ideas:
Carpooling and ride sharing - We all know that cars pollute. So it only makes sense to reduce the number of cars on the road. Less cars ... less pollution. One way to do this is through carpooling. It's easy to get started ... check with co-workers to see who lives close (being on the same schedule helps but, if one is a little flexible, slightly different schedules can also work ... or ask your employer about adjusting your hours to accommodate carpooling). Organize shopping trips with neighbors. Craigslist has a "rideshare" category where one can post trips, either looking for riders or needing a ride. In addition to helping the planet, carpooling is cost effective. Where there are rotating drivers, there is less wear and tear on one's vehicle. If one chooses to drive and offer rides instead, the riders usually help with the cost of gas. And ... imagine the opportunity to have lively discussions while commuting.
Car Sharing - In Washington state there is a beautiful place called Stehekin which is at the end of Lake Chelan, a 55-mile long, glacier fed lake. Stehekin is remote ... the only way to get there is by water craft or a long, long hike. When I visited (years ago), the first thing that I noticed was the lineup of several cars. This seemed strange since there are no roads leading out of Stehekin. There are, however, roads in the area leading to cabins and private little hideaways. So, the residents share cars ... with each other and with guests. Each car is parked near the dock with the keys inside (and the doors unlocked). When one arrives off a boat, they can choose a car and drive it. When they leave, the car is left at the dock for the next user ... with a full tank. This idea has taken on new interest in many cities throughout the world. There are car sharing groups popping up everywhere. The idea is that, without owning a car, a car is available whenever one needs it. They are parked throughout a city and members use one whenever it's available. It's a brilliant way to share a car, cut down on pollution and ... cut down on the costs associated with owning a car. Here are a couple of sites to check out for more information: http://www.carsharing.net/ and http://www.zipcar.com/. For additional resources search the Internet for "car sharing".
Living Space - On this site, we usually think of "footprint" as our carbon footprint. But what about our actual footprint ... the actual amount of ground that we live on. With populations throughout the world soaring ... we are using more and more land for housing. Trees are being cut ... aquifers are being covered up and polluted ... and animals are becoming extinct as they run out of habitat. Sharing living space reduces our footprint. This isn't a new concept ... for years, it was traditional for more than one generation of a family to occupy the same home. So, if you find yourself looking for new "digs", consider an apartment or a condo. If living in a large house is your pleasure, consider renting out rooms or some portion of the home not in use. More people in one space is a good thing!
Office Supplies - Do you work in an office ... or are you the owner of a business? Consider cutting back on the amount of office supplies purchased and ask employees to share them. For example ... is it really necessary for each person to have a stapler or scissors? Can people share computers and paper shredders? How about sharing trash cans and recycle bins? If one looks around, I'm sure there are all kinds of office supplies which could be shared. And the less stuff we buy and use ... the less stuff gets tossed out.
Showers - Save water by showering with a friend. :) Planning to build a house ... instead of one bathroom for each room, put one between rooms.
Share the road - Here's an easy one ... share the road with bicyclists. Encourage this pollution free mode of transportation by slowing down and giving them plenty of room. And if you have a bicycle ... see if there are times when you can use it instead of driving a car.
Clothes - As kids, it seemed natural to share clothes. Usable clothing was handed down from older siblings to younger ones ... sisters shared wardrobes ... and friends often traded outfits. As adults, we can continue sharing clothes. Many items are unisex ... couples can share T-shirts and sweat shirts/pants. Dads and sons are often about the same size ... so share jeans, shirts and even shoes. The idea, here, is to share what's in your closet with others living in your house ... you'll increase your wardrobe without spending a cent or adding more stuff to the mix.
Donate - Here I'm talking about donating usable items which you no longer want or need. Rather than toss them out, take them to the nearest thrift store, shelter or Good Will. And while we're at it, before shopping for something new, consider buying previously used items.
Toothbrushes - before you get grossed out, I'm talking about battery operated or electric toothbrushes ... and not the manual kind. Why have one device for each person? Simply buy a supply of heads ... each person has their own but uses one electronic device. It'll give you all a brilliant smile!
Electronics - Advertisers would have you believe that each and every person in your house needs their own TV, computer, phone, radio, etc. That's a lot of stuff ... good for them but not so good for the environment. So ... rather than equip each room with the latest and greatest ... and never seeing the occupant again ... consider sharing electronics.
Pass it on - And finally, the best way to share is to pass on the "green" word. Share your ideas, your experiences, what works and what doesn't ... share tips, hints and advice. The world will be a better place for it.
Sharing ... who knew it was so "green".
As always ... I'd love to hear from you!