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My Green Efforts

I've been trying to do my part lately to decrease my "carbon footprint," as they say. Here are some of my recent efforts, which you might find helpful in your own daily lives:
  • requested a recycling bin at our residence
    • We've never had one, but I noticed other houses on our street that did. Recyclables are collected alongside garbage collection, and they will pick up such things as newspapers/magazines, glass and plastic bottles/jars, aluminum cans, and more. If you do not already have a recycling bin, Tampa residents can easily request a "blue box" online at http://www.tampagov.net/appl_customer_service_center/form.asp?strServiceID=289.
  • purchased two "green bags" for grocery shopping
    • Locally, versions of these bags can be purchased at most grocery stores and natural food stores. I got this one at Village Health Market, on MacDill Ave (south of Bay to Bay Blvd). I have two of them, and the two together can hold all of my weekly groceries. They're bigger than they seem, and quite durable. It is difficult to remember to bring them with you all the time, but it's a culture change--one we're all going to have to make sooner or later, as many stores across the nation are doing away with plastic bags altogether.
  • cut back on car usage
    • For small, in-town trips (usually on the weekends), I will ride my bike to the store for food or grocery items. I have a basket on my bike to help carry things.
    • I walk to Starbucks almost always, but of course, I live within blocks from one, so it's easy for me.
    • I've begun taking the bus to work! This is by far my biggest effort yet. But the surge in gas prices has played a huge part in my decision to do so. In Tampa, the HART line buses go all over the regional area. I actually drive five minutes to the downtown Marion Transit Center, park in a dollar lot, and pick up the number 5 bus to USF. I do have concerns about leaving my car in a lot downtown, but there are many other, much nicer cars in the same lot, which makes me feel better about leaving mine there. As a USF staff member, my trips are only $0.25 each way (students ride free). Regular bus fare is $1.25, but there are packages that can be purchased at a better rate. The commute is about 45 minutes each way, but I can squeeze in some reading for classes while I sit back and let someone else do the driving. After calculating the cost to park and ride the bus for five days, I'll soon be saving around $35 (so far) per week in gas money.
  • purchase recycled paper products when feasible
    • This largely includes paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues. The recycled toilet paper doesn't feel as bad as it used to :)
  • use mug for morning oatmeal instead of styrofoam
    • I eat Kashi oatmeal every morning for breakfast at work (it's delicious and has lot of protein!), and our office, unfortunately, keeps styrofoam cups in the break room, which I've been using for years. But I decided that wasn't necessary, and instead I use a mug to heat up my water. This requires washing afterward, which uses water, but I've managed to use a minimal amount of water in cleaning my mug (and just a little bit of paper towel to dry it). Over all, I think the effort is worthwhile and makes a difference.
  • request paperless bills
    • Many people have been doing this for years, and I prefer it because I don't like keeping billing information at home, only to pile up and take up space where we frankly don't have it. Also, upon recently purchasing a new cell phone plan, I learned that some companies are now charging customers a fee for paper billing. How brilliant!
That's the bulk of my efforts recently. There are many other things I'd like to do, like purchase compact fluorescent light bulbs, but I'm waiting for a light bulb to go out first.

What are your recent efforts and ideas? I'd love to hear back on this one (in particular).

Comments

Catie got us using the 'green bags' too, and I agree that this change, like others, is going to require all of us to be proactive. It is a great thing though to be able to say that, at least on a lower level, you're doing something positive for the environment!
Anna said…
Wow...go Lee! I think you're the only person I know who takes the bus in Tampa ;). Way to swim against the tide. It made me think about trying, but here's my conflict: pretty my every day I'm go to at least 2 places - either work and a meeting or a group or tutoring or whatever, and I often need to carry stuff around. I'm terrified of not having my security blanket of my "nonprofit car" as James N. calls it, of course, meaning my 2nd office is in my car. But I should try for maybe one day a week or something. I'll let you know how it goes ;).

And yes, I love the green bags! They gave every runner a Publix green bag at the Gasparilla run, so I use my Publix bag a Abby's every week!
Lee Davidson said…
That is a conflict. I usually end up driving once a week because I have to tote my "work food" in, and I usually go to yoga once per week, which keeps me at campus until about 7pm, and I don't feel comfortable leaving my car in the downtown lot until nearly 8pm. So I bring my groceries to work on the yoga day. It's an imperfect solution to a multitude of problems, but every bit helps!

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