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Ron Dembo

Ron Dembo

Professor, author and founder of Zerofootprint.net

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Josh Dorfman

Author and radio show host known as The Lazy Environmentalist...

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Jennifer Hattam

Journalist and blogger at The Green Life

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The Many Shades of Green Living

When single mom Sarah Compton moved to Portland, ME, from San Francisco, she brought some of California’s conservation consciousness with her. From installing dual flushing toilets (which provide two flushing modes depending on the amount or type of waste produced) to outfitting her garden with a drip irrigation system (which uses tubes fitted with tiny holes that supply water directly to plants), Sarah has noticed a drop in her water bill. However, it hasn’t all been easy. The dual flushing toilets cost more, and the drip irrigation system had some initial kinks that needed smoothing out.

“That’s one of the stumbling blocks of going green,” says Sarah. “You have an idea about how to get it to work, and sometimes you have to struggle to get it to look the way you pictured it in your head.” After making a couple of calls, Sarah arranged to have the person who makes rain barrels for her local water department come and speak to a group of neighbors about Drip Irrigation 101. After that, the community was armed with plenty of information on how to effectively recycle rainwater. “I have found that people who are in the field of conserving things—whether it’s water or building green buildings or whatever—are so passionate and excited that they’re more than happy to help people,” says Sarah.

Ultimately, finding support, having fun, planning and pacing are the best way to bolster new habits. “Make green fun,” says Fergus. “Ask yourself, ‘How green can I be?’ You don't have to sell your car and buy bicycles for the whole family tomorrow. But if you have kids, you may ask them which is more fun—riding in the car or going on a bike ride. It’s only us adults, with half-hour commutes, who find cars more fun,” he says.

“Chart your course from the beginning and make sure you’re going to have attainable goals,” says Boulden. “You’re not going to sell your McMansion and be in a yurt in 30 days, but if you have reasonable goals, you’ve mapped the course and you know it’s going to be fun, you’ll make an impact.”

Posted: 10/3/07
jenniepez

Raquelita, paper bags are not the answer. I am a 'North American' who is trying to make a difference & I bring my own bags to every store & farmer's market, among other efforts. Reusable bags are a huge help and can be fancy at the same time.

amwith

Once you begin to go green, it becomes, at least for me, an addiction...a healthy one at that. I am a heavy recycler and now I have people at work doing it and doing it willingly. It's great...very rewarding.

  • By amwith
  • on 5/14/08 2:19 PM EST
kristen

Raquelita, your point is well taken—we must change in many ways. However, change is challenging, and I think the point about many shades of green is that its better for an individual to do one thing than nothing at all! Usually, those individuals that begin as "light green" soon find themselves becoming more and more eco-minded as time goes on!

  • By kristen
  • on 4/28/08 3:45 PM EST
Raquelita

I don't think a combo of light green and dark green choices is going to meet the demanding ecological challenges we are facing. Sometimes, dear North Americans, there is such as thing necessary as 'sacrifice' of "life-style". In part, our unreasonably demands have helped created the problems we face. Park the SUV, AND use brown paper bags (the jury is out as to whether they are better than plastic vis a vis production energy used) AND grow some vegetables in your yard or if no yard, buy from local farm families. Many shades aren't going to do it!

hercules

Balanced assessment of the pros and cons of "going Green."