“Keeping green” has become a nagging thought that stays at the back of my mind. When I see something that I know is a waste, I wonder how to replace it with something that is environmentally friendly.
As I wrote about in my post How We Can Stop Global Warming—it's not hard, I believe we all have to take part in solving global warming. I’m not going to order you to march on Washington to tell the government they aren’t moving fast enough and they need to do something NOW—I actually do think we should all be doing that. But what about all the small things we can be doing in our homes every day to diminish global warming?
One of the biggest perils we have to overcome in our daily lives is our mindset. The thoughts “What I’m doing isn’t really going to affect global warming” and “It is the government’s job to solve this crisis” are false. The only way we can and are going to resolve this emergency is when each and every one of us, as individuals and as institutions, focus on the solution.
Here is a simple example: paper vs. cloth. Whether it is in the kitchen, on your dining table, or in your powder room it’s the same. Let’s look at the different environmental costs of using paper towels and cloth hand/dish towels.
Paper towels are made from trees, a natural resource that, when turned into paper, contributes to deforestation and landfill waste. Add to that the manufacturing and transportation of these products to stores which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Cloth hand towels are typically made from renewable resources like cotton or linen. While cotton production can be resource-intensive, it is more sustainable than the production of paper. Then you need to include in your calculation the water and energy required to wash these towels after you use them which can be substantial but that can be minimized by washing full loads at lower temperatures using eco-friendly detergents in energy-efficient machines.
Since towels are reusable and last for a long time, the negative impact of their production can be amortized by use. It turns out that using and regularly washing cloth dish towels is more environmentally friendly than using disposable paper towels. You can even further reduce their impact by going the extra step and purchasing eco-friendly, recycled or upcycled towels.
Ultimately, the environmental impact of what we do and buy has a huge effect on our changing planet. It is up to us to think before we act; are we going to help stop climate change or just wait for someone else to do it?
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Le Kitchen Cookbook:
Everything you need to know to be a good cook. by Adeline M. Olmer
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