Monday, October 15, 2007

Red Boot Recycles!

Ok I am post dating this entry, I admit. October 15 was officially Blog Action Day, in which bloggers were asked to post entries to do with the environment. I intended to but missed the boat. So here is my entry acknowledging the importance of being aware and active in preservation of the planet:

We lived in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 90's. I learned from watching "Dirty Jobs" last year that San Francisco actually recycles 67% of its trash. That is so exciting!

In Salt Lake we had a great curbside recycling program. We found that we filled the recycle bin as much as the trash bin, except during remodeling. We have definitely gotten in the swing of recycling and enjoy feeling like we are contributing to less waste. Salt Lake also ran its metro transport system on electricity. It was great to drive around downtown and have a sense of clean air in the midst of buses and trains.

Here in Texas there is open space; so much in fact, that it is challenging to persuade people and governments of the urgency of environmental responsibility. I have not seen this many big trucks and SUV's in years. I believe the local governments of College Station and Bryan are trying to become more politically correct, environmentally speaking, but it is difficult to turn the tide and not just build community support but also physically construct facilities to recycle.

We are starting out by doing what we can. We collect recyclables in a bin, sort them ourselves, and take them to the Bryan Recycling Facility a couple times a month. Can't go to College Station because they charge you for your efforts, but at least there is another place to go.

Unfortunately, this particular facility only accepts about 5 kinds of recyclables. I decided early on that I wasn't going to spend my life driving around town to each place that accepts one kind of recyclable, so we are kind of limited in what we do here. Red Boot Ranch recycles #1 and #2 plastic bottles, steel and aluminum cans, and clear and brown glass. We also collect newspaper and thin cardboard such as cereal boxes. It adds up to one large storage bin every 5 days, which is significant, I believe.

What else can we do? I would love to contribute more. I wouldn't call myself a bleeding heart activist, but I believe that we were given stewardship of the planet, and conservation and wise use of resources are part of our responsibility.

Early this year we watched a special on the Discovery Channel, "Green: The New Red, White, and Blue." That really helped us see what options there are for us if we want to go above and beyond what city services provide (curbside recycling, green waste collection, etc.).

I did some research and learned that we could purchase units of wind power from Rocky Mountain Power, for about $1.75 per unit. We chose to order 5 units a month, as this was the minimum amount of energy we ever use. Since I still own a house in Utah I am still doing that, although once we cancel our service there I don't know of that being an option here in Texas. I have a feeling it will come, though.

We talk all the time about getting Justin an electric car for his commuter vehicle once the Prizm dies. (If it ever does; that Toyota engine just keeps on working!) That's one way to reduce emissions on the road. Sounds like the investment is about $7K-10K for an older car that has been retrofitted with an EV package. I would love to have a hybrid for my next car, but don't know if they make a hybrid Toyota Sienna with captain's chairs!

We have discussed the possibility of turning our next house into propane power, or installing solar panels, or building a windmill to collect wind power. Any would be a major investment, so I'm not ready to do it yet until I know we're going to be somewhere for awhile. Shoot I may just do it at Red Boot since we know someone in the family will own this house for years to come.

I combine trips to drive my car as little as possible, turn out lights when not in the room, and run the air conditioning warmer when we're not in the house. We re-use grocery bags as trash bags, wash and re-use water bottles, and buy rechargeable batteries.

We dream of living out in the country and being carbon neutral in addition to being completely self-sufficient. We are definitely not even close to carbon neutral yet, but are trying to be responsible especially as simple ways become more widely available.

Are you?

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