What can I
do to help preserve our Earth?
There are many things! This
is written especially for people who live in the Montclair area, but others
can probably pick up ideas. We
can work in small groups (“the only thing that has ever changed the world,”
according to Margaret Mead) or individually, or we can address the political
structure of our municipality, state, and country. The
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) did
a detailed study of how individuals can help save our planet, and their
conclusions are published in the $12 book, Consumer Choices and the
Environment. They concluded
that three steps are vastly more important than any others. In
order, they are (1) Avoid motor vehicles whenever possible and use the
least damaging when you must drive (2) Eat as little meat and fowl as you
possibly can, and (3) Eat only organically grown food. The
questions of whether to use paper or plastic bags and disposable or recycled
diapers don’t even make it near the top ten. Neither
does recycling, but in Montclair it makes a difference in our taxes.
This page is a work in process, and suggestions are welcome. It
will include (A) finding a group in Montclair, (B) my own reflections on
sustainable living, (C) websites for green information, (D) further comments
on the UCS big three listed above, (E) money, (F) where to send your house-clean-outs
as your simplify your life, and (G) links to large established organizations
that work for the earth.
(A) You can enjoy a discussion about local environmental issues with agreeable
spirits at the Environmental Idea Exchange the first Monday of each month
at St. Peter Claver Church from 8:00 to 9:30 PM. If
you are interested in helping Montclair be certified as a wildlife-friendly
town by the National Wildlife Federation, get in touch with David Wasmuth
Dawasmuth@aol.com; in holistic mothering,
Nancy Massotto, email@example.com; in community gardens, Brian Willies,
firstname.lastname@example.org; in the Cornucopia Network of NJ, Eduardo Krasilovsky,
email@example.com; in solar panels, Bob Simpson firstname.lastname@example.org; in
low-energy lighting, Meredith Nole, ILight8@aol.com;
in preserving NJ highlands, especially Garrett Mountain, BetsyKohn@aol.com;
in fostering safe biking and walking, Jerry Fried email@example.com;
in poison-free schools, Bob MacLay firstname.lastname@example.org; in municipal policy,
Gray Russell email@example.com; in genetically engineered food,
DU, sewage, or butterflies, Trina Paulus Compostgal@aol.com;
in composting, hybrid cars, or organic gardening, Chip Bolcik
firstname.lastname@example.org; in pomoting environmental considerations in Montclair's
development, Petia Morozov, email@example.com in running cars
efficiently, buying an earth-friendly one or fostering public transportation,
Fred Chichester 973-744-7340, joining a discussion
group, eliminating leaf-blowers, getting added to the above list, finding
others who share your environmental concerns, or getting onto my more general
email list, me.
(B) Keeping one’s spirits
up is, I believe, a (the?) key to an earth-friendly life. Jesus
and Ghandi did not miss the things that
have such a negative impact on the planet. If
you have a religion, you can get lots of inexpensive satisfaction by being
active with like-spirited people. If
you are fortunate to have family members who are friends, they take top
priority! Other friends are
invaluable for all of us. I
enjoy the almost-free folk dancing lessons that Barbara Greico
provides at Hillside School Thursday evenings when school is in session. Singing
in many contexts can provide great pleasure as does reading books from
our excellent public library, going for long walks in our beautiful town
and lovely parks, biking (for pleasure, errands, and commuting), and taking
part in the many cultural and improve-the-world organizations we have nearby.
When you must buy something
(and at time all Montclair families must) try to buy from a store that
is locally owned. The closer
to home the items were made or grown, the better for the future of the
planet and your country. Petroleum
prices are rising as petroleum gets more scarce, and to the extent that
we are dependent on things produced far away, the harder the adjustment
to decreasing petroleum is going to be.
Remember that exercise
is a cornerstone of good health in any system of health recommendations. I
love to commute by bike. Walk
as much as you can.
Pardon some retrospective. My
father used to emphasize when I was a child in Nutley how fortunate I was
to live in a time of central heating. I
believed him. He and I both
grew up when winter food including home-canned fruits and vegetables and
some oranges that had been trucked from Florida ? very good diets compared
to the early nineteenth century. It
was a healthy, comfortable life as I remember it.
I can remember life without
cell phones, DVDs, email, VCRs, home computers, leaf blowers (1987), paper
napkins, frozen food, aluminum soft drink cans (1960), touch-tone phones,
legal lotteries, power lawn mowers, air conditioners, televisions, clothes
dryers and dish washers. I
know a good life doesn’t require these things. Yes,
I enjoy some of them, but it’s important for all of us to remember what
is not necessary. In my early
childhood no patriotic family had a car; they were given up for the war
effort. In those days, public transportation
was much more convenient around here. It
America gives a list of 10,000 green items that one can buy. It
also gives lists of places where you can invest your money in accordance
with your values.
Earth Institute sponsors discussion groups based on fascinating $16
booklets (the only cost of the courses) where you can explore your relationship
to the Earth in a congenial setting. Get
in touch with me if you want to be involved with a group discussing, or
"Voluntary Simplicity," "Deep Ecology," "Choices for Sustainable Living,"
"A Sense of Place," or "Globalization and its Critics."
(D) (1) Walking, biking, and using public transportation are the best way
to go. Lacking that, drive
the smallest, most efficient vehicle that will serve your needs. Keep
the tire pressures up; we could save a billion gallons of gasoline a year
in the U.S. if people kept their tires at recommended pressures. Also,
change the air filter often, and make sure the tires aren’t hot.
Don't let a vehicle idle for more than a few seconds intentionally; it
and damages the engine.
you are a heavy meat-eater, taper off slowly. Start
eating a vegetarian meal once a week, then gradually more. Meanwhile,
eat smaller portions and fish more often. If
you want to read about vegetarianism, try VegSource.
Frances Moore Lappe's classic book Diet for a Small Planet explains
the ideas of getting protein from non-animal sources along with providing
extra money you spend for organic food is worth it both in your own family’s
health and in preserving the planet. Current
agribusiness practices are extremely damaging, according to the UCS study. Whole
Foods has many organic foods (but watch the signs!) and Shop Rite has quite
a few. A decade ago organic
foods were esoteric, but now over half are sold in supermarkets.
Best of all -- and fresh! -- grow
your own, as I do.
Other important steps include
turning off your heat or AC when not at home, turning off anything when
not using it, keeping the coils of your refrigerator clean, buying "green"
when replacing applicances, heating water only as needed, not having any
larger a lawn than you need, and caring
for it thoughtfully. Don't water it.
(E) How you spend and invest your money matters -- greatly.
Socially Responsible Investing
is good for both your conscience and your "bottom line." Buying locally
is best if you can, but otherwise, you can find earth-friendly products
at Harmony or from
(F) Auto’s Wanted section of the Star Ledger
tells of places that will take your used car and give you a tax deduction,
no matter what condition it is in.
Bicycles are collected and sent to other countries where they are
Books in good condition can be donated to the Montclair Book Center,
221 Glenridge Ave. Call
first 783-3630, and you may be paid for them. The
College Women’s Club of Montclair sells donated books and items. 783-7040. The
first Saturday in May the Friends Meeting sells books, CDs and videos,
and then passes them on the the Episcopalians,
who sell what they can and pass them on to another sale.
Clothes can be dropped off in a bin in the Upper Montclair parking
lot in other locations. Clean
clothes only! Or take them
to St Barnabus Hospice and Pallativ
Care Center Thrift Shop at 51 N. Fullerton Ave., or St. Luke’s Episcopal
Church Thrift Shop at 73 St. Fullerton Ave.
Car Batteries should be accepted by whomever sells you a new one
for appropriate recycling. If
you replace it yourself, get a coupon when you buy to new one to bring
back the old one.
Clothes hangers are welcomed by all dry cleaning establishments.
Computers are sometimes accepted at United Way of Essex or The Salvation
Army. Call ahead. Montclair
has township pickups spring and fall.
Food left over after public events is welcome at Tony’s Kitchen
at St. Luke’s Church. Call
ahead for arrangements.
Oil from your car if you change
it yourself is accepted at most service stations.
Packing Peanuts are welcomed by most mailing places, in particular
the one on Valley Road near CVS.
Paper and cardboard products, including the waxed milk and orange
juice cartons, are picked up once a week curbside, as are “comingled”
cans, bottles and all plastics 1-7 that have contained food, drink or cleaning
agents. More is recycled at
the recyling center, as are these.
(G) There are many changes needed in our laws and regulations, and more
enforcement is need of most. To make a difference in the political
realm, you need many colleagues. One person makes a difference, but
cannot cause political change alone. The simplest action is to join
in with the actions of an established organization that already shares
your concerns. Many have email lists that will tell you when action
The next most challenging
activity is to persuade established groups to adopt your concern among
its issues. For this you will need a small group, such as those indicated
in (A) above. Starting your own large organization is a big job,
but some people have done it. Organizations that might interest you
include the following. All, of course, would like your money, both
for what it buys and for the fact that they can brag about one more person
who supports their goals. However, you don't need to give money to
use their expertise to tell government officials what changes should occur.
New Jersey Public Interest Resource Group (NJPIRG)
is now involved in local waterways, decommissioining the Oyster Creek nuclear
power plant, saving the highlands from suburban sprawl, power, air polution,
and climate change. It is justifiably proud of the recent passage
of clean air legislation in NJ affecting vehicles.
website provides a link to many other environmental groups. It also
works directly. Its homepage currently says that seven million Americans
become sick from contaminated tap water each year
is politically active on issues such as stablizing the climate, safeguarding
human health, protecting our oceans and saving endangered wildlife.
National Wildlife Federation has a wide
variety of concerns, including local certification of towns as wild-life-friendly.
Foodfirst provides information
about environmentally friendly sources of food. It includes science,
practical information, and politics.
Greenpeace is a direct action
organization, taking non-violent but not necessarily legal action to preserve
the planet. It is now being sued by the U.S. governmnet because it
tried to prevent illegal importation of illegally logged mahogany from
Brazil. Its campaigns include nuclear concerns, global warming, toxic
dumping, the oceans, and genetic engineering.
The Sierra Club has an active
North Jersey Chapter working to preserve the highlands. Their email
Three other organizations that work for changes in the economic structures
that I personally believe are jeoparding our environment are:
United for a Fair Economy, which
works to make the United States a more equitable nation economically; we
are currently by far the least equitable in the industrialized work.
The Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD)
works to restore the U.S. to its original practice of allowing corporations
to continue only if they could prove periodically that they were serving
the common good.
50 Years is Enough is working for
global economic justice.