Power to Impact the Environment

Sheila - Charlotte, North Carolina
Entered on March 11, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: environment
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I’ve always had a deep respect for the natural world that we live in but never have I been so inspired to take personal responsibility for preserving it. I believe we have the power to make a tremendous impact as individuals in keeping our planet green.

I live in Charlotte, North Carolina and am what southerner’s call a ‘transplant’ from up north. Five years ago I moved here not only for the spectacular climate but the beauty of the rolling green hills and dales and endless Carolina blue skies. Charlotte has been known as the ‘City of Trees” with a dense canopy of forest. But with each day that passes another lot is cleared for a new subdivision. Freshly downed trees lay like soldiers after a battle and every rain produces mudded streams. Increased traffic combined with fewer trees just magnifies our ozone pollution problem.

One Saturday morning while driving past a road being widened I spotted a family of deer paralyzed in the clearing, looking pitifully displaced. I read an article in the Charlotte Observer last week about notable experiences of living in Charlotte. Hitting deer or knowing someone who has hit a deer was on the list. How sad is that!

While I cannot stop progress, I’ve been deeply moved to rethink what I can do to reduce my impact on the environment. I’ve always thought of myself as a good steward of the environment. But as an average American I’m guilty of discarding 4/5ths of a ton of toxic waste per year which is carted off in diesel trucks that spew forty different poisons, and is left to mummify in a noxious landfill. Or it’s incinerated forming a smog brew of sulfur

oxide, nitrogen dioxide, mercury and dioxins. Only 33% of my refuge actually gets recycled.

I considered myself a guru of recycling but I realize now that the bigger my

waste, the less I reduce or reuse. So now I’ve stepped it up a notch. I‘ve reduced using plastic baggies or paper towel in exchange for a Tupperware or dish towel. I reuse plastic or paper shopping bags. My houseplants sit on plastic lids. What I can’t use, I donate. I vow my next home improvements will be green. I am carefully planning drives combining tasks to reduce mileage. I’m purchasing Carolina grown organic produce to save oil. This spring I just may start that veggie patch I’ve been putting off. And if I reduce eating red meat, I cut my food carbon footprint up to 29% not to mention reducing my cholesterol and expenses. Am I ready to go vegetarian? Not completely, but that would lop a whopping 50% off my food carbon footprint.

If you see me at your next garage sale I will be reducing your footprint and mine as well. They’ve always said one man’s trash is another’s treasure. But my biggest treasure is this planet. My newest mantra is the three R’s — reduce, recycle and reuse.