I'm an Environmental Dilettante
A woman handed me a giant bottle of wine at my doorstep the other night. I was panicked. The woman is the development director for Acterra, an environmental organization we love and support. Acterra does home energy audits, but that's not why this woman was at my door, she was delivering wine we'd won in a silent auction. I thought to myself, she's politely inventorying all our energy violations. Most people would be embarrassed to answer their door in pajamas, but I was more worried about what she'd think of our incandescent lights, our lawn that clearly needs lots of water, and our huge array of electronics.
Not that I don't do my share to reduce our family's carbon footprint and spread the word about renewable energy. I promote PaloAltoGreen in my spare time, in fact I was asked to give a speech about it at Palo Alto's GreenStock festival last weekend with Palo Alto's mayor. The connection is that my mom, an award-winning environmentalist, began the first program like PaloAltoGreen in Colorado in the mid-1990s. In short, she died, the program arrived here and I couldn't help but want to support it. So, we offset all the electricity in our house with renewable energy through our local utility. Our participation shows up as a $15 line item on our electric bill. My husband reminds me that "The Environment" is not a legitimate Quicken Expense Category. Thankfully PaloAltoGreen has a new program where we can get discounts at local businesses to offset the small monthly renewable energy charge.
I wish savings from using energy more wisely could offset the monthly charge, but we have donevery little to reduce our consumption, and herein lies the problempeople have with carbon offset programs. They are criticized as acop-out for those who won't do more. So, as I chatted with the lovely woman from Acterra, I conducted my own green and not-green household inventory. Is PaloAltoGreen a cop-out or additive to our other green efforts? Let's see:
We do pretty well with food. I have reusable grocery bags and I'm even remembering to use them more. I feel like I'm votingfor sustainable agriculture each time I buy organic. I'm happy to report I've finally carved out time to visit our farmers' market weekly. I also got that composter I promised to get in 2008. I'll begin using it when my worms arrive.Continued on the next page