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.”