2010 is upon us. We’re well into our Climate Pilots program now, and with 3 of the 4 challenges under our belts, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned. Actually, I was reflecting on this as I drove home from work, while I “chained” my errands. Although I’ve felt somewhat frustrated during the energy challenge (living in a condo somewhat limits our energy-use options), I realized that I do have the power to make many positive changes, and what’s more, I’m sticking to much of what we’ve learned through Climate Pilots.
For instance, it’s second nature to me to run my errands in a more efficient manner–whether I stop by a few local stores on the way home from work, or I wait for several shopping needs from the same mega-mall before heading over there, or whether I opt to make my purchases online. It saves time, and often money, to run errands in an eco-friendly and time-efficient way. With the traffic we face in this area, it’s no small delight to minimize time on the road.
I also consider my food choices before buying. Yes, I’d love to try that new recipe that calls for fresh tomatoes. But you know what? It’s winter, and we don’t have too many tomatoes growing on our local farms. I’ll file that recipe away for a better time, and I’ll use something a bit more seasonal. Isaiah and I spontaneously debated the merits of California olive oil versus Italian olive oil, after watching a tv program touting the CA variety. (For the record, we figured that while CA olive oil is from the same continent, it’s likely to be transported by truck from East coast to West coast, while European oil is likely to be transported be boat and short truck distances. Climate coaches, feel free to weigh in!)
Less processed is better for the bank account as well as the climate. Taste plays a part, as well! I could buy prepackaged, cut and diced mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion), but it’s not nearly as tasty as the same veggies I cut up moments before putting in a stew. It’s also several times more expensive. No need to add more steps to processing–I’ll pull out my knives and work on my chef skills.
Being conscious of energy consumption is a powerful motivator. Our digital thermostat gives a precise read of the temperature, so there are no battles over judgment calls. The temperature is what it is, and we dress in layers to feel comfortable. This was a truly intriguing thought for us–We’ll keep the household at 69 degrees, and we can dress to accommodate that. Again, this saves us money, is greener, and helps us be more conscious of what’s going on in our household.
I think my most powerful realization is that most of these goals were easy to realize. Yes, I did (and still do) feel frustrated at times, especially regarding my lack of energy choice in the condominium. Yes, some of those are mandated, and some of those are economic, but I’m going to continue with my own personal energy challenge throughout 2010. However, it was so simple to “chain” my errands, to eat seasonally and lower on the food chain, and to work with the weather rather than against it that I do feel I’ve succeeded.
As a teacher, I look for progress in my students, not perfection. I’m trying to apply the same principle to myself. I’m happy to report that I do see progress, and it’s not just in me. It’s all around. From my friends who are becoming willing to recycle to my family members who are trying to travel “greener,” 2010 is turning out to be a pretty positive year!
By Climate Pilot Mya Akin