Friday, November 21, 2008

Comfort, Convenience and Disposable Items

It has gotten chilly in North Carolina. When I step outside, no matter what time of day or night, I hear heat pumps running. In the summer, it was air conditioning units ... running all the time. It occurred to me that we are a society which loves comfort, convenience and disposable items. Unfortunately, the quest for those things hurts the earth.

Let's consider ...

Comfort - did you know that one of the largest drains of energy in a home is the home heating/cooling system? When we set the thermostat for optimal comfort, we also use a lot of energy. In times past (some call them the good old days), people dressed warmer in the winter and opened windows in the summer. They didn't use central heating or air conditioning. We can take a lesson from the "good old days" and use less energy. "Progress" may offer us absolute comfort ... but it's also hurting the planet.

Convenience - no one would deny that convenience items (fast food, prepackaged meals, etc.) are bad for the environment. What about activities? Activities like driving to the mailbox instead of walking ... or tossing paper into the trash can instead of recycling. These activities may be convenient ... but they aren't kind to the earth.

Disposable Items - this one is easy. Basically, anything which is disposable is probably not environmentally friendly. Here are a few examples: plastic utensils, paper towels, disposable razors, pretreated disposable cleaning cloths.

Not everything that falls into these three categories is bad for the environment. But they serve as indicators to help us live "greener". When considering a purchase or an activity, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Does it make us comfortable?
  2. Is it a convenience?
  3. Is it disposable?
Answering yes to any of these doesn't mean that one shouldn't act ... more, it is a signal that perhaps we need to dig a little deeper and consider whether there is a better choice ... one which helps us reduce our footprint on the earth.

As always ... I would love to hear from you.