So, it's Earth Day today. Last year, when I told my 13 year old that every day is Earth Day, he replied, "For you it is. It's too hard to have Earth Day everyday." Wow! And he lives in my house where many of the elements of a greener lifestyle are in place. From the dual flush toilets to the green roof and various kinds of composting to the hybrid car we drive, his home life is embedded with better choices. But still his perception is that being green is hard work.
I believe there are many people who share his perception. We can't browbeat our family, friends and colleagues into making healthier choices for them and for the environment. I think we need to make better choices the default. Like eating whole wheat bread instead of white bread. We shouldn't take away the options for choices, but default settings should favor the choice with the lighter footprint. Set your printer to double side as the default mode. Program your thermostat for a lower setting in the winter or a higher one in the summer. Install a dual flush toilet with a short flush selection. You can always print single sided, select the long flush or bump up the degrees on your thermostat up or down but make it the choice you have to manually adjust.
I want a marketplace where virgin materials are more expensive, Styrofoam is priced higher than compostable plates and cups, pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables cost more. I wonder if wheat bread was less expensive than white bread, if more people would eat it. I know no one chooses Styrofoam cups because they like them! Anytime I ask a manager in a store why they use Styrofoam they tell me because it's the cheapest product they can buy. Why? Styrofoam never biodegrades! I suspect its true cost is much higher if you factor in its lifecycle cost.
So, this year, I want to make being green easy. I don't want my friends to need a degree in environmental studies to be able to make better choices. You shouldn't need a degree to buy your cleaning products. Meanwhile, I'm going to work on making being green easier for my son. Happy Earth Day!
Lois is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Wight & Co., an integrated architecture, engineering and construction firm in Chicago. Lois will blog about her green experiences in the corporate world, as well as her personal accounts of living in a green home.