Sustainable Sac: Going Greener Than Ever

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going green

St. Patrick’s Day does not have a patent on going green, even though it probably has reserved the yearly rights to green beer and “luck of the Irish” headlines.

Going green is something all of us can do any time of year, no shamrocks or corned beef and cabbage required. In fact, if you are looking to live a more environmentally sensitive life, you might want to consider having beans rather than beef with that cabbage; there’s widespread evidence that an herbivore diet is gentler on our globe sweet globe.

What else can one do to go green? Aside from the usual mundane suggestions to change light bulbs, take cloth bags to the store and buy a Prius? Let’s take a quick tour of what some experts are recommending.

Earthday.org, which promotes eco-conscious living and the annual Earth Day celebrations (coming up on April 22), has published 52 ways to “invest in our planet.” Many of those ideas center around joining Earthday.org-sponsored or supported groups and activities, and some are online-interactive (i.e., calculate your personal carbon footprint, plastic usage or “foodprint”). Writing your representative government officials and asking your power provider for green options are activist ideas.

Last April, Consumer Reports came out with a go-greener list that included some esoterica. Its “Seal Air Leaks” tips include “Light an incense stick and pass it around the edges of potential leak sites. The smoke will waver or get sucked out of or blown into the room where leaks are present.” The watchdog website also encourages people to close curtains (to guard against hot or cold outdoor air infiltration), unplug not-in-use electronics and appliances that have constant lights, wash laundry with cold water, use countertop cookers (e.g., toaster ovens) rather than the oven, and “opt out of unwanted mail.” (CatalogChoice is recommended, and it’s free.)

SignUpGenius turned some of its brainpower toward the environment with a list of 50 things one can do greenwise. They include 11 that stress the concept of reuse and repurpose, under the general heading “Strive for Second Place.”

Repaint that old furniture or those old frames, get creative with found objects, donate school supplies to local nonprofits and give unwanted hygiene products to a local shelter or pet supplies to the wagging-tails type of local shelter. The site also suggests you dry clothes on a line or rack, use a timer to help limit shower time and “replace an evening out with an evening in.”

Regionally, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District devotes an entire section of its website to going green. There, you’ll learn the benefits of planting free shade trees, tapping into solar reserves and cashing in on eco-rebates, among other things.

The city of Sacramento is taking several sustainability steps, offering programs that “offer financing options or offset the costs of upgrades such as improvements to mechanical and electrical systems, installation of water-efficient fixtures, and development of on-site renewable energy and electric vehicle charging.”

Another great resource is Sacramento County’s website, whose go-green section summarizes and provides links to various environmental programs and waste-handling sites. Go greener, friends! Blarney, what have you got to lose?