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Crimes Against Nature

January 13, 2011

By Jennifer Chaky

I can’t help it. Whenever I am at somebody’s home, my green radar is always on and I cannot help but notice the not-so-green things that people commonly do. And it’s usually some simple-to-avoid transgression that the person is not even aware of; something they can easily work on if it were pointed out. So here is my list of Top Seven Most Common Ungreen Practices.

1. Letting the water run. I’ve seen people run the water full blast while wiping the counter, rummaging under the sink, loading the dishwasher, brushing their teeth or shaving. Once you learn how scarce our clean water supply is, and the sad fact that millions of people on our planet do not have access to it, wasting water should feel like a crime.

2. Spraying chemicals. People have become so fearful of germs that they spray dangerous super-germ-fighting cleaners around their food and family without thinking of the consequences these toxins have. Simple white vinegar (mixed 1:1 with water) kills 89 percent of bacteria and viruses and is perfectly safe for even small children to use. Besides, those super antibiotic cleaners cause a host of problems by making our world so sterile that supergerms are becoming a real threat to public health.

3. Using water bottles instead of tap. This is something we wouldn’t dream of doing twenty years ago—paying 10,000 times the price of tap water for bottled water that is usually still just tap water! It is a dangerous thing to do because we are making water, a natural resource, a corporate controlled commodity. We don’t want to give any private corporation control over what should always remain a public resource. They’d sell us air if they could! Plus the dangers of drinking out of all that plastic and having it end up in our oceans is reason enough to run for the tap!

4. Using plastic tableware and utensils. I can’t tell you how often I see this. People with kitchens fully equipped with sets of tableware and dishwashers to conveniently clean them still use plastic stuff! It is the epitome of laziness when we decide drinking and eating from harmful plastic that clogs our wastestream is better than reusing real dishware and utensils. And don’t get me started on the overuse of plastic bags and wrap instead of glass or stainless steel containers.

5. Buying Over-Packaged Products. Lunchables, juice boxes, individually-packaged snacks…these things are so unnecessary. How hard is it to buy a big jug of juice and pour it into a stainless steel or reused glass bottle? Or to portion out your own snacks and lunch from a bulk supply? It’s easy if you just think about it.

6. Idling the car. There are many excuses to idle: to warm-up the car, or you get side-tracked chatting on your cell phone, or you have to run back in the house for something and you’ll “just be a minute.” Now, it’s one thing to use energy while you are driving your car, but there is no excuse to waste energy when you are not. Just think about how dangerous it would be to leave a car running in a closed garage. That’s the same junk that is released into our atmosphere! If you are stopped anywhere besides in traffic, turn your engine off. Period. There are people outside of your car who will appreciate not breathing in the extra fumes.

7. Leaving lights on. If you leave a room, turn the light off. It’s simple. And make sure your outside lights are not left on all day in the daylight.

These points are the low-hanging fruit that anyone can get in the habit of doing. If only we put out minds to it!

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