Sustainability. It's the latest buzz word in our heightened sense of ecological awareness. Essentially, the term means the capacity to endure and renew. It can be applied to every aspect of our lives: environmental, social and economic. Ancient forests and wetlands are examples of environments that have endured for millions of years. Other eco terms terms such as going green, carbon footprint and LEED have become part of our vernacular. LEED, by the way means Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Over time, civilization, development and population increases have caused negative, detrimental impact upon all of our lives. Just look at mountain ranges all over the United States---developers are bulldozing the tops off mountains and clear-cutting trees into oblivion. Fly over the Appalachians, parts of the Rocky Mountains and you will see thousands of bald mountain tops.
Those of us who marched for civil rights and advocated Flower Power realize the importance of saving our environment for our grandchildren and future generations. Interestingly, several recent studies indicate that the boomer generation may be at the forefront of going green. Consumers over age 50 are more likely to purchase green products and choose environmentally friendly alternatives. A boomer friend of mine is president of a sustainability group that has rallied her Midwest town to go green by encouraging the construction of LEED certified buildings, creating more walking and biking trails and ramping up trash recycling. Several other friends have earned master gardener certifications and teach others how to grow sustainable vegetable gardens and drought friendly flower beds.
Most of us already know that we can conserve energy by turning down the heat, turning up the A/C, sealing cracks and installing a storm door. There are hundreds of other ways we can conserve. But here are some easy and very practical eco-conscious ideas you might want to implement.
Plant a tree. Then plant another tree. Not only do trees increase the value of your home and add aesthetic beauty, they provide cooling shade in front of a sunny window and actually lower the indoor temperature by several degrees.
Install ceiling fans in nearly every room of your home. Our family lived in the wretchedly hot, humid South for many years and during the summer, air conditioning was an absolute necessity. But with ceiling fans in every room, we found we could keep the A/C at a bit higher temp and we just felt cooler because of the air circulation. Today, we live in the comfortable upper midwest. Summers here are a blessed, cool delight. Yet we have installed ceiling fans in all our rooms except the bathroom. There's a fan even in the kitchen. With the windows open, cross ventilation and the fans whirling, we seldom need to turn on the A/C. The ceiling fans make all the difference in the world. Most of our neighbors do not have ceiling fans and I've noticed that they use their A/C much more often than we ever do. A whole house fan is another effective way to cool off your indoor areas.
Grow your own veggie garden. It's fun and rewarding. And the harvest always seems to taste better knowing you grew it yourself. Too backbreaking at our age? Try growing tomatoes in big pots on your deck or porch. Much less work than a big garden.
Stop buying water in plastic bottles. Plastic never dies. It creates unimaginable litter, even polluting all of the earth's oceans. Install a home purification unit instead, that can be attached to your kitchen sink.
Walk, hike, ride a bike. Any time we conserve gasoline, we create less pollution. And staying in shape at our age ain't bad either.
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