Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back to basics, how to cut through red tape and can thinking like your grandma really save the environment?

Good morning, everyone! Traffic's humming, garbage trucks are beeping and the birds are chirping... it must be Earth Day in L.A. (This picture, by the way, is not L.A. This is where I go in my mind when I'm stressed-- The Abacos.)


Today I have a collection of links to share and I'll kick the first one off in honor of Earth Day (I know, I know. EVERY day is Earth Day.)

1. It's time to live green (without spending too much of it)! by Ashley Fielding/

I love the perspective in this article. I've been thinking about it a lot lately-- how our 'new' economy might actually force a return to the basic concept of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." Humans are motivated more by money than anything else. Nobody has money to waste anymore. The limitation of resources could actually shift us collectively towards a more 'green' way of living... not for altruistic reasons, but financial. And I say, hey, whatever it takes.

Here's an excerpt:
But just because you can’t afford a Prius does not mean that living “green” and saving money are mutually exclusive pursuits. In fact, the recession might just be an opportunity to reconsider your lifestyle choices, Hall County Extension Agent Debbie Wilburn said. And in most cases, making environmentally-sound choices can save money, said Cindy Reed, director of Keep Hall Beautiful.

Keep Hall Beautiful holds to the old adage of reduce, reuse and recycle, but Wilburn calls it getting back to the basics. In a nutshell, if you want to save the environment, buy less and think like your grandmother, Wilburn said.

“My grandmother didn’t generate nearly the trash that most people do now,” Wilburn said.

My grandma always saved leftovers and encouraged us to use no more than 2 squares of toilet paper. I could never get on board with the two squares concept, but she made her point. What did your grandma teach you?

2. Congressmen help constituents cut through red tape in tough times by Dana Bash/

It works! When we reached our breaking point with Countrywide thanks to the endless runaround, I got on the phone and just started making calls. I called our Congresswoman, the Department of Treasury and Governor Schwarzenegger's office. It was the Governor's office that finally helped us cut through the red tape.

If you're in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure and are trying to negotiate a modification with the bank, but aren't getting much response (if any) it certainly can't hurt. Call everyone: Your Congressperson, Senator, Governor, Councilmember... Just keep reaching out. It worked for us. And for the people mentioned in this article. It might work for you too.

3. Thy Neighbor's Mortgage by Randy Cohen/

I read this article on my lunch break and found the perspective rather poignant. Of course, I agree with the thesis. Here's an excerpt:

Some people do take extravagant chances with other people’s money. We call them hedge fund managers and we reward them lavishly. Ours is an age that glorifies risk-taking entrepreneurs. (Or did until five minutes ago.) It seems inconsistent to condemn that trait in a home-buyer, particularly when rapidly rising housing prices promised big profits to all. Home ownership itself has been exalted as a national virtue, an essential element of the American Dream. It would be odd to suddenly scorn those who chased that dream, albeit a bit too vigorously, and assisted by those financial steroids, the subprime mortgage.

What do YOU think? Agree? Disagree? Why? (Make sure to read the full article)

4. This I Used to Believe This American Life episode 378

I can't get enough of This American Life and I especially loved this one. Act 1 is especially timely and appropriate to "Love in the Time of Foreclosure." A little synopsis for ya:

Act One. Scrambled Nest Egg.

One day in January Alex French got a call from his mom, saying that she’d been laid off. A few hours later she called to say that so had his dad. Alex takes a trip to Massachusetts to see how his parents are getting by since entering unemployment for the first time, in his father’s case, in 30 years. (9 minutes)

Listen via Podcast: This I Used to Believe on
(Ira Glass, you are a radio god... even though you don't believe in God.)

Happy Earth Day, everyone. Go wind energy!


Kim Hooper said...

I'm all for going green, for environmental and economical reasons. I reuse Ziploc bags and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I try to avoid paper towels in favor of a washable cloth towel, though my husband will not get on board with this. I pack lunches in Tupperware. I use Trader Joe's grocery bags as trash bags (well, actually, here's another one that my husband is not really "into"). I think I grew up in the Great Depression, though I'm not sure how that's possible, math-wise.

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