Saturday, March 28, 2009

Green Common Sense

Sustainable development and sustainable community are the new buzzwords being used by our government. Sustainability is more than Green building and Green jobs because it must encompass the environmental considerations along with economic and social considerations. Sustainability is defined as a development or community that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely. The idea behind the buzzword is to preserve the world for the future. In theory sustainability should be a common sense, balanced approach to development and the environment.

Taking care of our environment, locally or globally just makes sense, and does not have to be over complicated. There are some easy common sense ways to use less fuel and also save money on your heating bills. For example, seal up leaky drafts around doors and windows with weather-stripping. It’s not hard to do yourself and it does not cost a lot of money. Keep your drapes closed at night to help insulate your house. On sunny days, open up the drapes and blinds to let in the sun’s free heat. Shut off the lights when no one's in the room. These are all examples of common sense solutions that my parents and grandparents used to keep their fuel bills lower. I doubt that they used the term “carbon footprint”, but the energy saving results helped the environment and my family’s economy.

Do we really need to waste our money on “studies” and grand plans to be sustainable? No amount of money wasted on studies will make the common sense choices easier. In the end it is about finding a balance between caring for people and caring for the planet.

On an individual level, we have to make choices too. How important is the concept of sustainability to us as a community? Sustainability sounds very desirable when we hear our government talk about it. But are we willing to make our own difficult choices? Are you willing to pay more for your housing (buying or renting) if it means using less energy? What if that means getting a second job? Are you willing to use public transportation instead of your Land Rover? How about some easier choices like making that extra trip to the curb with your recycling when it is below zero?

The point is that a truly sustainable community starts with all of us taking individual responsibility for our environment and each other. We should not leave all the sustainable community choices to the politicians who go to Green meetings in their private jets. I do not want the government to limit my personal freedom of choice by forcing me into the government’s idea of a sustainable community. Nor should we give up our personal freedom to come up with more creative solutions.

Sustainable solutions that really work will come from individuals and business. The reason for this is that sustainable choices make economic sense in the long run. It time to focus on the balanced common sense solutions that benefit the community and the environment. We need to give people freedom to come up with creative sustainable solutions instead of just doing what the politicians tell them to do. We will also save some tax dollars that are being wasted on “studies.”

There is an old adage that should be tied to the word sustainability – “Waste not, Want not”. This type of consumer frugality has gone out of style in our more affluent society. Maybe it’s time to bring it back.

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