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How green are you living?

How GREEN are you living?

I have a confession to make: I am obsessed with minimizing my impact on the planet. Am I the only one? I want to know (take this survey).

Don’t be too impressed; I am far from living as lightly as some. My (wife’s) house is too big, I almost never take the bus, I eat an occasional burger or steak, and I do fly on commercial airliners from time to time.

My obsession is simply this: In everything I do, throughout each and every day, I think about my impact. I evaluate every decision, every action, and – whenever possible – I choose behaviors that have the least impact. This generally means less waste going to the landfill and less energy consumed. The thing that makes me unusual is that I go through the thought process a dozen times a day. Maybe more.

Just to give you an example, I consciously minimize the use of our electric garage door opener. I never use it just to walk out into the driveway. And once a car leaves the garage, it stays out of the garage the rest of the day. I turn off the car if it is going to sit still longer than ten seconds – picking someone up (a pet peeve), having a conversation with someone I run into in a parking lot, waiting on a construction crew, etc. Of course all this would be more impressive if there were simply no car in my garage. Or no garage!

Our house is completely dark at night, except for the one room occupied. I refuse to ride elevators unless I have more than 6 floors to climb. And (this is a pet peeve) I will spend ten minutes hunting for the hidden stairs in buildings designed by clueless architects. We do NOT have a single paper napkin in the house, and I even carry a cloth napkin with me to many events and locations. Spill on the floor? I never reach for a paper towel. It’s cloth rags at our house (the final re-use of worn and tattered clothing). Bottled water? Never!

Could I do better? Absolutely. I’m a work in progress. Still, I’m the subject of family discussions. They humor me, but I’m a novelty. If I left this life tomorrow, the family would go right back to leaving the lights on, using paper towels and disposable plates and utensils at parties, and disposable napkins all the time. Though I do hope this situation is slowly changing.

You may wonder why I do this. We are so far into overshoot, how can using a cloth napkin make any difference? It can’t, unless there are a billion people doing this. How much less CO2 would be added to the atmosphere this month if a billion people considered their impact (and behaved accordingly) multiple times every day?

This is why I want to know – am I the only one? How often do you think about these things? Do you obsess? And what behaviors do you think will make the most difference? Let’s find out. Please take this 3-minute survey. It’s anonymous (so be honest). And I’ll share the results after the survey closes Oct. 5. Feel free to share the survey with friends and colleagues.

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Comments (15)

  • Avatar

    Diane

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    I know I’m old, but where the hell is the actual survey? All I saw was a You Tube video? I’m so tired of links that don’t do what they purport to do.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Dave Gardner

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      If you click on “take this survey” in the first paragraph of the post, or “take this 3-minute survey” in the last paragraph of the post, those are hot links to the survey. Sorry if it wasn’t obvious to you.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Ken

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    lower thermostat in winter/raise in winter???

    Reply

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      Dave Gardner

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      Ken, thanks for the catch. Sorry we missed that. Fixing it now.

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Dave Gardner

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        Turns out we can’t change the question once the survey is launched (understandable). We’ll do better next time.

        Reply

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    Meg

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    I really appreciated the exercise of assessing the environmental impact of 12 actions I think about all the time and eagerly await being corrected on my ranking when the time comes!

    Reply

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    Felicity Crombach

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    The survey makes one think about what would make the most impact but doesn’t take into account all the solar that needs to be used to make life a little easier as we age

    Reply

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      Dave Gardner

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      Felicity, thanks for writing. True enough, the survey leaves out a number of behaviors we’d have loved to include. Unfortunately we were already up to 12 items on the ranking list, and I think that is too many (probably discouraging some participation). We’ll try to include comments like this in our report back to respondents.

      Reply

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    Michael Lewis

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    Hello Dave:

    This is a grand idea, as long as it doesn’t descend into “I’m greener than you are!”

    One problem with the survey is that everything on the survey is important. Ranking of the twelve actions doesn’t adequately reflect the necessity of drastically reducing global population growth, global consumption and global waste production.

    In a growing population, reducing per capita consumption is quickly overcome by population numbers. We must reduce growth in every aspect of human lives.

    If we don’t do this purposefully, Nature will do it for us, and we might not like the outcome!

    Keep up the good work!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Dave Gardner

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      Michael, thanks for your encouragement and comments. Keep in mind we’re just trying to find out what people think. This will help us determine where the knowledge and attitude gaps are. You are quite right about the fact that we are so far into overshoot we must work hard on all aspects of impact.

      Reply

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    troy schacht

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    I’m like you Dave ~ you’re not the only one ~ thanks so much for all that you do! It’s great to see people care deeply!

    Reply

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      Dave Gardner

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      It feels good to know there are many of us. Thanks!

      Reply

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    Martin Evans

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    So sorry I was too late for the survey, missed it somehow. Any chance of a repeat? I would like to pass it on to friends.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Dave Kruse

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    I put a lot more emphasis on population than on consumption. Providing funds for Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) is an easy way to impact population. We fund 1+ in US and 15+ in Indonesia each year. We could not have the same impact if we reduced our consumption to zero.

    Reply

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