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Monday, October 15, 2007

Greenspeak for Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day. That means lots of bloggers are going to be talking about the environment today, which is awesome.

As Georgia is having some pretty serious drought problems, I'm going to limit my focus to some local issues. While this may not interest everyone since it's "local," do read on anyway, as our problems are not unique.

This month our governor declared that October is "Take A Shorter Shower" month. This in addition to the *complete* ban on any outdoor watering might give you a taste of what we're dealing with. As I type, we're 36 days from "forced rationing" of water in this county. Just last week Atlanta made ABC News with the fact that within a year the city could be out of drinking water. Watch that video would you? It's eye-opening.

Part of the problem is excessive lawn watering. Few things could anger me faster. I'd much rather have water to drink and a nice, hot (quick) shower than a green yard. Let the grass go, people. It grows back.

Another issue specific to Athens and other college towns is the number of students and football fans taxing the ecosystem. Ever wonder why College Station Rd. stinks the day before a football game? The waste water sanitation plant is flushing the poo tanks to make room for 90k extra "contributions". Nice, eh? Not that I have anything against college students or football games in general, but the influx of so many extra people is hard on the system. More resources are necessary and more trash and pollution are generated.

The vast majority of students and fans I've run across in my years dealing directly with them (at this particular school, mind you) are wasteful, neglectful, and generally couldn't give a shit about this town. Some have a very different mindset, of course, but after you've worked in a very large complex and have to deal with $300 water bills, you come to realize that most of them either don't care or don't think it's important to conserve or recycle. And why should they care? They're here for their own personal adventure and then they're out in 4 years and only return for football games and nostalgia, leaving a trail of trash behind them. I know; I was that student.

Thankfully there's an on-campus organization that's doing some recycling after games, though I have doubts about what percentage of trash they're able to recycle. Compared to the amount of trash tossed aside on the way to the game, I don't see that they can really collect any where near the majority of it.

To get some idea of the volume of trash we're talking about, check out this article from the University of Tennessee's student newspaper regarding the UT/UGA game last week and the volume of trash generated. 12 tons is the average. In one day.

Some students are taking up the proverbial torch, however, by launching "8 Days to Go Green" (Oct 14-21) in recognition of National Energy Awareness Month (Go Green Alliance). Yay! Students who care!

So what do Nate and I do to be more green? Lots of things!

Shorter showers and turning off the faucet when it's not necessary. Drinking all the water I pour myself or watering plants with anything left over. Not flushing every time (using the "if it's pee, let it be; if it's brown, flush it down" rule. Switching to Swheat Scoop for our cat litter, which caused a short rebellion that was quickly squashed. We use big reusable bags when grocery shopping. We carpool, in the hybrid naturally. We recycle everything possible (including junk mail and cataloges, and even going through the trash to dig out anything we threw out by mistake). We have water and energy efficient appliances, especially the washer and dryer. We've replaced almost all of our lightbulbs and we unplug things not in use (mostly). We use cloth instead of paper napkins when possible. We regulate the thermostat (and I wear more clothes).

I know there are more things we could be doing, and we'll be adding to our list. The next big thing we'll do is get rid of our carpet (donating it if possible) and put down bamboo floors. So excited. Must save money.

And maybe our next house will be green all over like Chris's Green House.

If you're interested in some more green blogs, check out Green as a Thistle, No Impact Man, Treehugger, and Eco Chick. All of these have great links to other blogs, companies and products.

What are you doing to be greener, if anything? Got any suggestions of things I can add easily?

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day