Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Best Way You Can Help the Environment: Change the System

At last weekend's Arlington County Fair, several people came up to the ACE booth and asked the best way they could help improve Arlington's environment.

For me, that's always a tough question to answer. People want simple solutions, like "If your office doesn't recycle, take your empty containers home and recycle them yourself." It's easy and doesn't force anyone out of their comfort zone. If you try to challenge them to take the next step, like "Go to your facility manager and ask why your office doesn't recycle," they're often reluctant.

As helpful as it is for you to change your behavior, you can do exponentially more good by changing the system. Buying a hybrid car is good, but getting your company to change its fleet to hybrids makes a lasting impact on our air quality. Installing a rain barrel is good; organizing people in your civic association to install rain barrels can save a stream. Buying organic beer & wine is good; getting your favorite restaurant to carry organic beer exposes hundreds of people to green products.

Here are more ways to help the environment at home, on the road, and in your community!


Asian Mistress said...

I missed that booth at the fair! Haha.

Eric said...

I agree with your thoughts, although they are tough to hear. I'm curious - what do you think are the best ways to make larger change - letters to decision makers, join a lobbying organization like the Sierra club, etc? Where's the best place to affect change - government or private?

The Green Miles said...

Eric, if you put those questions to 10 different activists, I'm sure you'd get 10 different answers! This one would say the more local the better, and the more personal the better. Walking up to Chris Zimmerman at a county event and asking him to have the county buy more green power is going to have vastly more impact than sending an e-mail to Rep. Moran.